**Consider using our companion PowerPoints (Introduction and Expectations, Second-Read Thinking, and Power List Notes), which are also available through our TPT store, with these lessons!
Common Core Rationale:
As students move up in grade levels, the Common Core State Standards call for reading, making sense of, and analyzing increasingly lengthy and complex texts. In order to achieve the writing competencies laid out in the Common Core State Standards, students must also write about the texts they read in increasingly sophisticated ways. This requires students to not only read and make sense of lengthy and complex texts, but also to hold onto information and ideas that they have while reading. Thus, we must teach students to internalize expectations for reading tough informational texts, conduct first-read and second read processes to make sense of complex informational texts, and employ note-taking strategies that go beyond recording lists of facts or information with the intention of using them to memorize to prepare for answering recall or comprehension questions. We must teach students these things to help facilitate their work in analyzing and writing about the texts they read.
Lesson Plan Contents:
This resource contains materials for three foundational lessons for beginning student work with reading tough informational texts. The lessons cover establishing student expectations for reading informational texts, first-read and second-read processes, and the most basic type of note-taking strategies. The lessons include example texts that can be used for instruction, but the plans are written so that you may select and use texts of your choosing. The first lesson is a general lesson introducing students to the expectations they should have for themselves when reading informational texts and a brief introduction to first and second-read processes via a mini-lesson and students generating a set of notes used as a pre-assessment. The second lesson centers on practicing second-read thinking process through a mini-lesson, teacher modeling, student guided practice, and student independent practice. The third lesson focuses on the foundational and basic note-taking strategy called Power Lists through a mini-lesson, teacher modeling, and student practice.
Lesson Plan Implementation:
We must acknowledge reading, making sense of, and holding ideas and information encountered in complex and lengthy informational texts are skills that students must practice and grow. The foundations for this work are helping students to get acclimated to the work they will need to do when reading informational texts, strategies to read the texts, and strategies to hold the ideas and information they encounter. The expectations, first-read procedures, and second-read procedures students need to do are not difficult to grasp, but they must be practiced and grown to the point where students employ them with independence when they encounter informational texts.
When teaching students note-taking strategies for informational text reading, we must recognize that the types of note-taking techniques that most middle school and high school students have used in preparation to answer recall and comprehension level questions will not aid them in making sense of and analyzing complex informational texts. Those techniques often only involve students copying teacher-prepared notes that they have been told to copy or using a non-strategic approach to randomly copying chunks of text out of textbooks. The note-taking strategies that students must use to succeed with making sense of and analyzing complex informational texts require them to engage and think about the texts and strategically decide what to record as a note.
There are multiple note-taking strategies that are appropriate to use when reading informational texts depending on the type of text, structure of text, and complexity level of text in relation to a student’s current reading level. Therefore, we must approach the teaching of note-taking strategies from the perspective that we are adding note-taking tools to a student’s reading “toolbox” and teaching them how to use those tools. We cannot look at the teaching of note-taking as a formulaic, one-size-fits-all process that students are simply to replicate when they read.
Consequently, it would be counterproductive to attempt to teach students all of the note-taking strategies at once. So, in this lesson pack, we have only included a lesson on only the most basic type of note-taking strategy, the Power List. The Power List serves as a foundational note-taking strategy that can then be built upon to grow students into effectively employing more complex note-taking strategies. Later lessons and lesson packs will include lessons for these more advanced note-taking strategies.
Lesson Plan Follow Up:
In order for students to successfully grow to independence in making sense of and holding on to ideas and information encountered when reading complex informational texts, the strategies introduced in this lessons must be employed regularly in classes. A “one and done” teaching mentality concerning these strategies will not achieve that goal. Students must be held accountable for conducting first-read and second-read strategies; if they are not, many students will attempt to skip those steps and jump right into taking notes. The notes produced in this manner will have little meaning to students and will not significantly aid them in making sense of or analyzing complex informational texts.
Additionally, note-taking, including the strategy introduced in this lesson pack, is only meaningful for students if they regularly make use of their notes to assist them in accomplishing more challenging follow-up tasks. Notes have little or no value in the minds of students if they are taken simply to complete a note-taking exercise or if they are only used as a list of facts to memorize in preparation a test that is days or weeks away. Teachers should regularly follow up student production of notes from reading with tasks that require students to make use of their notes to successfully accomplish. For instance, asking students to write entries (1/2 page) to synthesize their notes, write a more formal and lengthy composition from their notes, or teach others from their notes are good follow-up tasks.