Welcome Back! In the last installment, I shared with you how the Text Complexity Triangle guides teachers in making decisions about the texts that students can and should be reading so, students can be college and career ready. By identifying just right texts for students, not only will they improve their reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehensions, they will view reading as an enjoyable experience and not a chore.
Over the years, students have made gains in reading comprehension. However, it has not been at the rate of increasingly difficult texts that they are required to read in order to be ready for college and career.
In my last installment Understanding the Text Complexity Triangle Part 1, I explained the function of the quantitative measure. In this installment, I want to focus on the next two legs, qualitative and reader and task.
The next text evaluation leg is the qualitative measure. The qualitative measure evaluates levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands. Since the development of the Text Complexity Triangle by the CCSS, new findings have been researched and reported on how to better target the qualitative measure. In the link, Figure 2 illustrates new tools for evaluating the qualitative dimension of text complexity.
If you are a teacher who confers with their students, you will find this as a useful tool. Texts should also be high quality and coherent for students. Texts which reflect excellent craft and where students struggle and interact with it deeply and thoughtfully will prove to be a better choice. These texts range in genres, cultures and time frame and progress from grade to grade steadily.
I have found through my teaching and observing students engaged in reading, that students are highly engaged in their interaction with text when there is a strong schema of the content of the text and when the text inspires the student to do something: the task.
The third leg, reader and task, of the Text Complexity Triangle, is as equally important as the qualitative and quantitative measures. As a teacher, I think about my student’s interests, stamina for reading, background knowledge and life’s experiences when I select texts for them. Giving kids voice and choice in their text selection encourages buy in and gets kids excited to expand their knowledge on a topic they enjoy.
So, how can you access texts for all your students? In the beginning of the school year, have them make lists in their reader’s notebook on all the things they love and enjoy. Then go on your text hunt on those topics. Texts come in a variety of formats. Sure, books are the most common, but how about magazine articles, newspaper articles, and blogs. Mary Ehrenworth from Teachers College at Columbia University feels that texts can also be a Ted Talk Jr., a podcast, or a documentary, so students begin to learn about a topic and the vocabulary that goes along with it.
When the student begins to read about the topic that they watched a YouTube clip on, they will have a better understanding and confidence when they encounter concepts and vocabulary in the printed text.
Educators, embrace the text complexity triangle! Use it to help your students and view it as a helpful tool in being the best version of your professional self. Think of it as a three-step process, and divide and conquer with your grade level colleagues. Collaborate, communicate and elevate each other to greater heights.
Until next time, happy learning and teaching.