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Intermediate grade readers are not an M, an N, or an O—they’re idea–wranglers, ready to comprehend when we honor who they are as thinkers first In 30 Big Idea Lessons for Small Groups, educators Rafferty, Morello, and Rountos provide an amazing framework that gets students interacting with texts. You prompt and guide, but they think! Big–Idea groups are the piece that’s been missing from small group instruction: engagement from the get–go. Follow this unique 4–part process to develop students’ literal, inferential, evaluative, and analytical skills:  1. Engage: Before Reading Using a tactile tool like a topic card or a pyramid, readers literally move ideas around on their small group table as they debate a question related to the text and to big ideas about courage, persistence, love, and honesty, and more.  2. Discuss: During Reading Students read and mark up a short text, exploring questions that get at the author’s take on the big idea, noticing key vocabulary, text structure, moments of inference, and more.  3. Deep–See Think: After Reading Students re–read, synthesize, and revise their interpretations together and tweak the tactile tool, based on questions that probe the big idea in new and deeper ways.  4. Connect: After Reading Students summarize, and begin to transfer their understandings to other texts in independent reading and the world beyond, primed for this all–important transfer because they’ve been engaged in topics that clearly relate to their lives. Tap into 30 lessons organized by text complexity, reproducible forms, assessments, and a bank of engagement tools so you can switch it up. Use these lessons across the year as a warm up to a whole–class novel, to augment your core reading program, to challenge your capable readers and bring your striving readers in to rich yet accessible reading experiences.

Transferring Thinking Across the Day
Transferring Thinking Across the Day

An age-old struggle is to have students make stronger connections between what they see and practice in small-group lessons and what they think about when they read independently. We think more of that transfer is happening now, because more teachers are using quality literature in small groups so there is more of a natural through line. Additionally, teachers are doing more close reading and less prescriptive strategy work, which often led teachers to compel their students to instantly practice visualizing or predicting or studying character or whatever strategy was just taught—regardless of the nature of the independent reading!

Small-group sessions should be an invitation to share reading and thinking that ranges beyond the text being studied. ...

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