I had a teacher comment on a post I made recently (about paired texts) saying the word “rigor” makes her want to throw up. Although she was being completely serious, it kind of made me giggle… but then I realized that maybe she didn’t like the word because she only has negative experiences trying to help students tackle rigorous texts.
As you know, reading comprehension isn’t limited to one text anymore.
As the rigor has amped up, students now must be able to “analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.” (CCSS, R.9)
In other words, students must be able to read and comprehend TWO texts on the same topic (a pair) and then compare them. They also must still be able to return to each text individually to answer questions.
And finally, those questions aren’t just multiple choice questions about the texts, anymore– students must also be able to write constructed responses to text-dependent questions.
Looking at it in such a sterile, technical way, it kind of makes me want to throw up, too!
But I am going to help you teach students to attack paired text skills in an engaging way, using high-interest topics your kids actually want to read! Just like with other reading strategies, students must be taught how to comprehend and analyze a pair of texts.
In this post, I’ll be using a pair that you can pick up for free right now:
When do I start teaching with paired texts?
You might use small group time, or you might do it through your mini-lessons, but no matter when you do it, the rigor of paired texts will require you to carve out time over the course of the YEAR (it can’t be saved for the month before the state test).
It’s important to do close reading of each text individually first before comparing them or integrating the information in both. This means it could actually take a week or more to walk students through close reading and annotating each text individually AND the pair of texts (read more about that here)…then answer the questions about the texts.
What kind of passages should I use?
Knowing you are going to be with the texts for so long, don’t torture yourself with boring articles. Why not integrate your texts with other content your students need to learn? Reading and writing across the curriculum really help to ingrain the content! Plus, we know that students need to be exposed to more nonfiction.
I like checking out NEWSELA for interesting current events related to my content! They offer free and paid subscriptions.
Another great way to look at “pairs” is to tie your social studies content to historical fiction mentor texts to compare and contrast!
You can also find all of my sets of paired texts here, which are all content-integrated, high-interest, and engaging! And yes….. rigorous.
How do I help students understand the questions?
As you can see, teaching students how to highlight is a great tool to help students restate and USE the evidence that is already in the text!
Looking for more help with close reading and paired texts?
Creating Thinking Readers
Close Reading Process
Close Read with Nonfiction Mentor Texts
Close Reading Poetry
This post was originally part of a collaboration series with Jennifer Findley- grab a reading freebie from her here!