Notice & Note – I Wish My Teachers Had Read This Book!

I read this book because I wanted to learn how to better engage with a text I’m reading, how to better understand it. I also wanted to learn better how to help my son fall in love with literature and reading. This book was great for both!

I am talking about “Notice&Note – Strategies for Close Reading” by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst, a nonfiction book about close reading, deeper learning and so much more!

Who Should Read “Notice and Note”?

This book is written first and foremost for teachers. I am not a teacher, but I didn’t mind that at all: I still got a lot of value from it and I actually found it fascinating! My first thought after reading only about 10% of it was that I truly wish the teachers I had in school could have read it back then. The way it presents examples makes me remember boring classes and how they could have been so much better, with lots an lots of interactions, how they could have opened our minds to so many possibilities and different ways of thinking and of approaching a topic! I so, so hope things will be improved by the time my son is in school!

If you’re not a teacher, but, like me, you want to understand close reading better, you will find value in this book! If you want to make your child think more, you will find value in this book! If you want to understand and appreciate teachers and their important work, you will find value in this book!

I found it practical and engaging.

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How Did “Notice and Note” Come to Be?

The premise for “Notice and Note” is that what’s been done around literacy until now is not enough: “too many readers plow through a book giving it little thought; too many readers who finish the page or the chapter and then, rather than express a thought, ask a question, or leap into conversation, look up at the teacher and wait“.

This struck me…I did that for so, so long in school. I am great at consuming, not so great at thinking for myself. I tried a lot more to improve since school. The way I read has definitely changed in the last 20 years, but I still don’t think it’s enough. I still think I have a lifetime of learning to do. I view this as a great thing: no time to be bored! This book is another step in my journey.

With this premise in mind – the lack of real interaction from children around books, the authors of this book started to check with other teachers to see if they have the same problems in their classrooms. They also repeatedly read the exact books these teachers were using for their lessons. A pattern emerged: all the books had similar, easily recognisable elements. That’s how the idea of signposts came alive. Whenever students would come across a signpost they would know to ask themselves a series of questions. These questions would make them really engage with the text.

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What Is the Purpose of “Notice and Note”?

With this book’s help, students will be empowered to become independent readers – deeply engaged, attentive, independent readers. They will start by noticing signposts, then ask themselves questions until they come to a real understanding of the bigger themes and character development going on in their readings.

The goal is, in time, to take on texts on their own, without relying on their teachers and find joy in that challenge.

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What Are the Signposts?

The authors identified six important signposts that can be found in most middle-grade books. They are pretty self explanatory patterns and along with the questions for each one, these are bound to stir up conversations.

1. Contrast and Contradictions

This is meant to help students recognise character development, internal conflict and plot. After a few lessons with this signpost, they can identify places in texts where you can find contrasts – differences in behaviours of two characters, for example – and contradictions – between how a character was supposed to act and how it acted, for example. Students need to start asking themselves “Why would they act/feel this way?”.

2. Aha Moments

This is that moment when a character realizes or understands something that until that point he had not known.

“Notice and Note”, by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst

The question students need to ask themselves when they stumble upon this signpost is “How might this change things?”.

3. Tough Questions

This signpost helps students recognise the importance of the moment when “the main character puts into words the major problem he or she is facing”. This should make the student stop and ask himself “What does this question make me wonder about?”.

4. Words of the Wiser

This lesson “helps students recognise the author’s theme”. When a wiser character offers the main character advise, students should come to ask themselves “What is the life lesson and how might it affect the character?”.

5. Again and Again

When something is repeated, we should pay attention. The students should ask themselves “Why does this happen again and again?”

6. Memory Moment

These are “the points in a novel where a character remembers something about the past”. Students should ask themselves “Why is this memory important?”.

As you see, the ideas aren’t complicated, but the way they are thought here is amazing and you really need to read the book to understand the beautiful work these teachers have done.

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How to Teach the Signposts?

“Notice and Note” is just perfect in explaining this in detail! You actually get exactly what should go on in classroom for each and every signpost. It was illuminating and incredibly well explained!

Everything is exemplified on actual texts the students would read. You get entire lessons, along with the most frequently asked questions. I had so much to learn from that!

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Are the Signposts Really Effective?

This is the part that impressed me the most!

After learning in this way to question the fictional text in front of them, students started to question things for other subjects as well!

Questioning, critical thinking became a habit! There’s nothing better than that!

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This book is a must read for educators of any type. I cannot stress enough how important I find it!

✨✨✨ You can find the book on Goodreads here✨✨✨

Notice & Note by Kylene Beers & Robert E. Probst

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