[Series] Active Reading Skills #4: Awareness of Evidence and Intent

Using Digital Tools to Promote Literacy

It’s March into Literacy Month! To celebrate, we’re exploring what it means to be an active, engaged reader, and the literacy skills students need to develop active reading habits. To help you celebrate March into Literacy Month in your classroom, we’re also highlighting some free digital tools from the SRA FLEX Literacy supplemental and personalized learning solution. Each one of these tools makes learning about and practicing a different active reading skill engaging and fun — just like literacy should be! At the beginning of the month, we started by looking at why students need to have a holistic understanding of a text. Then, we explored the various tools students can draw from to become a resourceful reader and activities to familiarize them with figurative language. Now, we’re ending the month by focusing on the long term goals of active reading throughout a student’s instructional journey with literacy. Ultimately, we want our readers to move beyond comprehension, and towards critical thinking. At an advanced level, all truly active readers are analytical.

In order to be an engaged reader, a student must understand the way the text functions, the intended audience, and any connections between form and content. Now, students aren’t just engaging with the text to answer plot and vocabulary questions — they’re engaging with the text in such a way that examines its implications, considers counter arguments, and holds each of its claims up to a critical eye. When we teach our students literacy skills, we should push beyond comprehension — we should strive to make every reader a thoughtful reader, and empower them with the ability to think analytically. But text analysis skills are many and complex, so we’ve chosen to highlight just two here: a strong awareness of both the author’s evidence to support the main argument, and the author’s intent.

These concepts can be complicated, so consider using fun digital tools, like these videos, to introduce them to your students. In these videos, students will explore the two key components of analytical engagement with a text mentioned above: evidence and intent. Incorporate them into your ELA lesson for March into Literacy Month!

Claims and Supporting Evidence

Being able to examine the validity of evidence is the bread and butter of critical thinking: students will draw on this skill in all subjects, in higher ed and their careers, and in their daily lives as consumers of information. These cartoons from SRA FLEX Literacy present evidence and claims in the context of a student court, with an emphasis on logical arguments and validity.

Author’s Purpose

Identifying an author’s intent requires a complex combination of concrete and abstract thinking — it’s essentially a culmination of all other skills we’ve covered in this series, when students must be aware of how the text is functioning holistically, at a micro-level with individual words, and the ways in which evidence is being employed. Students must be able to identify an argument, and, in turn, construct their own. This is where active reading transitions into a larger conversation, and where the student can begin to integrate their thoughts about this text into their growing understanding of the world around them. These videos present author’s intent in the context of a game show — they’re perfect introductory tools for the topic!

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