We've begun diving into the Notice & Note Signposts for close reading. The six signposts identified by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst are designed to help students become more engaged, analytic, close readers, as required by the Common Core.
Today, we began talking about the third signpost, Tough Questions. This signpost gives students a strategy for digging into hard questions asked by characters in their novels. Whenever a character asks himself a really difficult question, readers should stop and ask, "What does this question make me wonder about?" The answers to these questions give the reader insight into the internal conflict of that character in addition to ideas about what might happen later in the story.
As we began talking about this signpost, I gave examples of my own Tough Questions I've had to wrestle with in my life. After giving examples, I had my students anonymously write down their own examples of Tough Questions they've had to struggle with in their lives. The responses I got were heart-wrenching. I cannot believe some of the questions my students have to wonder about at 13 or 14 years of age. Here's a list of some of them:
*Why did the car not stop?
*Should I live with my mom or dad?
*Should I move schools?
*Should I confront that person?
*Should I believe what people tell me about my mom?
These were just a few of the questions my students offered. It's amazing to me what my students deal with on a daily basis. As we continue talking about this signpost, I'm sure deep conversation will arise as students relate their own lives to the lives of the characters in their reading. If this was just the start, there's no telling what they'll derive as we continue practicing.