Saturday, October 13, 2012


I think one of the most difficult things for a young first grader to do is to compare and contrast when they read - books, characters, themes, whatever.  So to begin teaching that skill, after we have talked deeply about characters, we have our students begin by comparing a character to themselves.  Who do they know better in the world than themselves?!

Although the new Common Core talks about changing directions and having children do less thinking about connections to their own lives and more thinking about the evidence that is actually stated or inferred in the story, very young children still need to think about what they know about stories before they begin and as they read. They do need to access their prior knowledge so that they can take that knowledge and put it with what the text says to form new opinions and interpretations.   They still need to think about times when the same thing happened to them so that they can understand the setting, the problem, the solution - so they can understand why a character does what she does.  That's not to say that our thinking and conversation don't need to be ratcheted up a level and that we then don't need to look for the direct evidence in the book to back up any claims we make.  We can't just talk off the text anymore.  The Common Core demands a much higher and deeper comprehension than we have expected from our youngest readers.

At least this is how my own thinking is going right now... as I grapple with these new expectations.  Below are some of the Venn diagrams that our students did as they were beginning to understand this very complex skill of comparing and contrasting.

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