Is it in the text?

This past week I finished grading my students assessments from first quarter. We covered many English Language Arts (ELA) standards over the first nine weeks, but especially focused on asking and answering questions in both literature and informational texts.

ELA Common Core Standards

Grade 2 Reading Literature:

  • Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

Grade 2 Informational Text:

  • Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

In first grade, we focused on the standards in both read aloud and guided reading texts. This year our students have independently read a text and answered who, what, where, when, why, and how questions.

I have noticed that as my students learn more information over the year, they are using their prior knowledge to answer the text-based questions. I started to think about ways to teach my students the difference between using prior knowledge before reading a text and then using the text to answer the questions.

I found an article on Edutopia called Teaching Students the Skills of Expert Readers and thought about ways to incorporate these skills in my classroom. The article summarizes The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Readers.

My literacy centers are structured around Daily 5 model but are differentiated based on my students needs. I have 11 centers, which include 3 teacher groups (myself, another second grade teacher, and a resource teacher). My students do not follow a traditional rotation, but rather each student is strategically placed in a center based on his/ her individual needs and the activity at the center.

Here is a picture of my rotation. Students are homogeneously grouped based on reading level within a group of 2-3.

This type of rotation is very time-consuming to create, but gives my students to opportunity to work at centers that are differentiated to their level.

After reading about the 7 strategies, I started to think about ways to incorporate each strategy into my Daily 5 Centers.

1. Activating:

  • This past week we studied weather and clouds – I have set up a center to complete a small research project on clouds and use knowledge from our lessons to complete the task rather than prior personal knowledge.

2. Summarizing:

  • My students will be locating vocabulary in differentiated leveled text topics that have already been introduced during literacy instruction. Once they find the vocabulary word, they will complete a graphic organizer to summarize (determine) the meaning of the word and use the word to further explain their understanding of the text.

3. Monitoring and Clarifying:

  • Students will work on a clouds research project using differentiated texts to report information about clouds and weather. Students will be given opportunities to work collaboratively on the project for many days and check their understanding through the project.

4. Visualizing and Organizing:

  • When locating and defining the vocabulary words, the students will have opportunities to use a graphic organizer to show their thinking and understanding.

5. Searching and Selecting:

  • The clouds research project will give the students an opportunity to search for information and select facts from the necessary sources.

6. Questioning:

  • This week we will focus on questions during our guided reading. My students can create “thin” questions – questions that can be answered from the text, but have a harder time asking the “thick” questions.

7. Inferring:

  • We also focus on inferring from the text and use student created questions to practice the strategy.

Our school also uses the MobyMax Accelerated Personalized Learning program. My students will also be engaged in focused informational text instruction and questions as well as a variety of stories with questions.

I am excited to use the 7 strategies as a framework for creating my centers. This framework will help me plan a variety of activities and ensure that I am creating a variety of learning opportunities for my expert readers.

How do you create your centers?

What do you think are important skills for young readers?

How do you teach your students to use prior knowledge to read the text, but not necessary use to answer comprehension questions?


3 thoughts on “Is it in the text?

  1. This is awesome Cara! My students always struggle with using their background knowledge instead of the text. I usually have them cite the page number they found their answer on or even highlight/underline how they came to a conclusion for their answer to keep them accountable for using the text.


  2. Wow, Cara I’m so glad to hear how your centers are going with being able to collaborate with two other teachers! That is wonderful and truly helps all of you differentiate for the students’ needs together. Thank you sharing the 7 Strategies for Highly Effective Readers. The information was very clear and gave excellent examples and resources to use for each area. I like how you have already done a great job of adapting these strategies into your classroom lesson on clouds and weather. I’m having a difficult time incorporating both a Corrective Reading program and Guided Reading strategies into my weekly classroom routine. I think that these strategies will be helpful will understanding how to use a few more effectively with one program each day. Thank you for helping me reflect on how to include these into my lessons daily and adapting my routine for my students. Do you have any suggestions to help keep it simple and focused based on time when you are the only teacher in the classroom? 🙂

    I hope to hear more of your thoughts and how you are seeing these strategies help your students grow! Great job Cara!!!


  3. I think that inferencing, summarizing, visualizing, and questioning are all very important skills for young readers to develop. Kids need to be able to understand that there is purpose behind the things that they read, and that things are written very deliberately to communicate certain messages to particular audiences. I’m glad you’re teaching these skills to your students.

    As far as using prior knowledge, I guess the comprehension assessments just have to be designed in such a way that they preclude the possibility of using prior knowledge to respond. Easier said than done, I know. 🙂


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