Sunday, March 13, 2016

Notice and Note


Product Details
I recently read the book Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst.  These award winning scholars are leaders in the field of literacy instruction.  In Notice and Note, Beers and Probst identify six reading “Signposts” that help students read literary texts with deeper connections and understanding.  Their work has been especially identified for use with students who struggle with comprehension.


Notice and Note addresses the idea of rigor in instruction.  Beers and Probst state, “Rigor is not an attribute of a text but rather a characteristic of our behavior with that text.  Put another way, rigor resides in the energy and attention given to the text, not in the text itself.” (p. 20)  They go on to state, “The essential element in rigor is engagement.  The rigor has to be achieved by engaging readers in a process that is sufficiently interesting or rewarding that they’ll invest energy in the work.” (p. 22)


The “Signposts” detailed in Notice and Note provide teachers with an excellent resource to aid students with their interaction and understanding of text. “It is the interaction, the transaction, between the reader and the text that not only creates meaning but creates the reason to read.”  (p.3)  In their research, Beers and Probst discovered that the more students noticed these signposts, the more they were using the comprehension processes: visualizing, predicting, summarizing, clarifying, questioning, inferring, and making connections


Following is a summary of “The Signposts” Beers and Probst have developed.  They believe these signposts, “show up in novels because they show up in our world”. (p.74) The information below is directly from p. 71-73 and p. 71-75 in Notice and Note (I just did a little tweaking!).  The book and it’s companion Literature Log are available to borrow in the EMES PD office.  I’ve recently ordered their Notice and Note for nonfiction text, I’m anxious to see those signposts!


Signpost #1:  Contrasts & Contradictions
  • A character’s actions or thoughts clearly contradict previous behavior.  These changes offer new insight into the character
Clues to the Signpost
  • A character behaves or thinks in a way we don’t expect, or an element of a setting is something we wouldn’t expect.
Literary Elements it Helps Readers Understand
  • Character development
  • Internal conflict
  • Theme
  • Relationship between setting and plot


Signpost #2:  Aha Moment
  • A character has a sudden insight or understanding that helps the reader understand the plot’s movement, develops the character more deeply or a conflict the character faces.
Clues to the Signpost
  • Common phrases/clues to this signpost:
  • Suddenly I understood...
  • It came to me in a flash that...
  • The realization hit me like a lightning bolt...
  • In an instant I knew…
Literary Elements it Helps Readers Understand
  • Character Development
  • Internal conflict
  • Plot

Signpost #3: Tough Questions
  • The main character pauses to ask of himself or a trusted other, tough questions.  These questions can reveal inner struggles.
Clues to the Signpost
  • Phrases that express doubt or confusion:
  • What could I possibly do…?
  • I couldn’t imagine how I could cope with…?
  • How could I ever understand why h/she…?
  • Never had I been so confused about..
Literary Elements it Helps Readers Understand
  • Internal conflict
  • Theme
  • Character development


Signpost #4: Words of the Wiser
  • A wiser and often older character offers a life lesson to the main character.  This is often the theme of the story or novel.
Clues to the Signpost
  • The main character and another share a quiet, serious moment.  The wiser figure shares wisdom or advice in an effort to help the main character solve a problem or make a decision.
Literary Elements it Helps Readers Understand
  • Theme
  • Internal conflict
  • Relationship between character and plot


Signpost #5: Again and Again
  • An image, word or situation is repeated, leading the reader to wonder the significance.
Clues to the Signpost
  • A word is repeated, or sometimes used in an odd way, over and over in the story.
  • An image reappears several times in a book.
Literary Elements it Helps Readers Understand
  • Plot
  • Setting
  • Symbolism
  • Theme
  • Character development
  • Conflict


Signpost #6: Memory Moment
  • A scene that interrupts the flow of the story and reveals something important about a character, plot, or theme.
Clues to the Signpost
  • The flow of the narrative is interrupted by a memory of a character over the course of several paragraphs, before a return to the present moment.


Literary Elements it Helps Readers Understand
  • Character development
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Relationship between character and plot



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