strategy lesson: reading standard 4 (literature)

reading anchor standard 4, a craft and structure standard, states that students will be able to “interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyzing how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.”

this work will likely require multiple modelings and coaching students through the work, and read aloud is a great place to start with it. for a possible progression of how this could go, see the post about gradually releasing responsibility.

we believe strongly in creating scaffolds, modeling using them, making them accessible to students, and celebrating when they’re used. students who don’t need them aren’t likely to use them (for long, anyway; they may use them at first, but will likely quickly drop it because they don’t need it), and those students who do need them will feel empowered by their success with using them.

while there are certain scaffolds we give more individually or to small groups, one scaffold that we’ve found successful to use with the whole-class is charts created in front of the students, during mini-lessons, with post-its or removable examples of the work for students to take back to their seat and use*. for example:


an anchor chart co-created with our kids across a unit of study that focused on close reading. all of the colored post-its are examples or phrases the students can take to their seat to use as a scaffold during their independent reading.

a possible teaching point, for a mini-lesson or a strategy lesson, for standard 4 could be: readers know that authors choose their words purposefully, and so they read closely by paying attention to the words an author uses to describe a character. they use these words to think about the author’s purpose, what meaning or image the author was creating through those words.

to model this work, you could read aloud from a shared text (even more powerful if the modeling includes re-reading a part of the shared text, or reading it aloud for the first time and then going back, so that the students see the work and power of re-reading), listing words (we suggest choosing either verbs OR adjectives for the modeling, and thinking aloud about this choice) that are used for one specific character. then, look over your words, thinking aloud about which of the words fit together, and maybe starring those. finally, you can use a phrase (written on a post-it on the class chart, perhaps) like, maybe (the author) used these words to show/give me the idea that/make me think…

if the class were reading aloud dragon slayers’ academy: the new kid at school, you could focus on studying gorzil, the dragon. you might focus on verbs used to describe gorzil’s actions, listing verbs like: boomed, poked, blazed, rose, dripped. then, looking over those verbs, you might star “boomed, blazed, and rose” because you see a way that they fit together, and then finally write or think aloud something like, “maybe kate mcmullan (the author) chose these words to make me think that gorzil is a mighty and loud dragon.”

this can be done first during a mini-lesson using a shared text, but also revisited in small groups or conferences. you might ask students to leave a post-it for you to show their work with this in a shared text so that you can quickly and easily assess their independence, and then create groups based on the support and teaching into it that the students need to move to the next level.

*we’ve also found that photos of the charts or parts of the charts that are uploaded to a google drive account and accessible on a class set of ipads work just as well.


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