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, although there are still multiple choice questions about the texts, students must also be able to write constructed responses to text dependent questions.
Just like with other reading strategies, students must be taught how to comprehend and analyze a pair of texts. 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. 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).
Knowing that you will need to use paired texts all year, why not integrate your texts with other content your students need to learn? Reading and writing across the curriculum really helps to ingrain the content! Plus, we know that students need to be exposed to more nonfiction. You can find all of my sets of paired texts here.
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The passage shown as an example in this post is from the Winter and Snow Paired Texts for Grades 4-8.