Dr. John T. Guthrie: Fostering Deep Engagement in Disciplinary Literacy

it’s a great pleasure to be here either i’m speaking loudly or this mike is really strong or is it good ok it’s good thank you I’m enjoying Connecticut I I was reflecting on David’s sense that you know your background knowledge comes flooding in when you’re when you’re reading but also flooding in anytime and yesterday I came here on route 84 and I saw a gratin kind of on the map over on the right and I thought no the maps wrong it kind of should be over there on the left and I realized okay Groton Massachusetts Groton Connecticut okay I better get that straightened out so then we got that straightened out got here and we had a very nice trip over to mystic for dinner and I thought this is a charming place but it looks just like Annapolis Maryland and it is like Annapolis and now I understand mystic because I’ve been all through Annapolis then we went to dinner at the red 64 people know the red 64 and what is a red 64 it’s a restaurant but what else is it it’s significant because it’s a boy for sailors who are coming into port and red means you’re going to leave the red Boyz on your right as you’re returning to port and that’s what we do in the Chesapeake Bay whenever we sail so I knew what red 64 notes the number 64 implies the count starts in the ocean and the numbers go up as you get inland so I figured 64 meant a very long line of red markers between here and and and the sea so now I know I knew what red six where red 64 was so you can’t stop the knowledge it’s great to be here and I’m enjoying all these nautical qualities of your ear space here now I want to address the question of given the deep cognition that David and Freddie were both talking about how can we help our students absorb participate construct in building understanding from these complex texts using hard words how can we get there how what else do we need to be thinking about in addition to the complexity of the goal that we’re trying to attain let’s think about the next aspects so what are the educational challenges what kind of framework should we have in our heads to address these challenges I’m going to propose a model for how to get to the core content disciplinary expertise and give you a little evidence that this actually is a valid model and works for students and last some examples examples of what it means to be supportive of students engagement in this disciplinary literacy so first I want to just talk about what do we mean by disciplinary literacy what do we mean literacy in subject matter well I think my this is going to be rather briefs but I’m just saying literacy in subject matter is a little different than literacy in literature because of the text structure the structure itself has all these forms we’ve heard about cause and effect problem solution so it’s not plot and character and this force many students this is a sea change because they’ve grown up on plot and character and we find many many texts have what I’ll call the pyramid structure so there’s a big idea there Freddie showed passages and journal articles magazine articles bird nests okay so there’s a pyramid structure talking about nests nests are going to be the top of this pyramid then there’s going to be what makes the nests who builds nests water nests composer is going to be a pyramid you can compose it’s going to capture many of the texts that we see in content now what about the kids processing of that one of the things that writers talk about who look at disciplinary is contextualization so in history in particular are you reading this text

from the viewpoint of a certain geographical or political or cultural perspective what’s your context for reading a letter what’s your context for reading a legal document so there are some distinct qualities of disciplinary texts and one of the things we want to do is to keep those in mind at the same time the year into the Disciplinary reading I’m just giving you a list here of some of the things that students are doing to be making sense of a history book or a science book that are a little different than to be making sense of a story so for example inferencing is happening all the time every said every sentence students are connecting that sentence to what they know that sentence to the next sentence because it’s dense it’s complex the story is not real easy to follow without adding things yourself not influencing his work so this is a little bit of energy from this student you have to know what’s important like in this bird nest passage what’s important the type of sticks that are used or or how the sticks are organized which is the important quality of the bird nests that they’re talking about here so students are generating what’s important they are restructuring as they go continually I’m not going to explain all these but I just want to indicate that in the way that David and Freddie have both talked about coming complexity if the bar is raised when you come to these disciplinary texts so the bar is raised when you know we’re talking about literacy for them e so the the core content standards have raised the bar in how tough the reading is going to be my question is how are we going to help students do this hard work that David was talking about that freddie was talking about and essentially there are four motivations for reasons for reading for sources of empowerment that will drive kids into the processes of understanding these complicated texts first interests and we’re going to go into this more fully but building students interest in the content helping students believe in themselves self-efficacy refers to confidence or belief that you can do it understanding that these texts about bird nests are in fact very important very beneficial very integral to you as a person now and you as a person in the future and collaborating with others to comprehend and share and build knowledge these are for drivers of the cognitive systems all the thinking processes david was talking about all the vocabulary learning thready was talking about are being driven by the extent that students have these things now in the last dimension of here of engagement motivation we’re talking about the volume the what’s the biggest determinant of how students due to how big vocabulary is one very very big determine is how much students read an article a week is good an article a day is better and so this is indispensable to extreme increase the volume and I’m going to talk about the example here this is an illustration of reading habits and reading achievement in three different countries in the United States we have here reading achievement based thought now this is for 15 year olds sort of who are at the end of some of their education their middle school experience and they are higher about twice as high as students in South Africa and I know South Africa because I visited there and there in the survey now if you look then at the Asians the Koreans and you can’t quite say if this is an oversimplification but they’re almost three times higher in capacity to understand complicated text so the u.s is right here about the average of OECD the European countries and the top end of them is here and the Asians are over here they’re outliers higher than we are South Korea Singapore Hong Kong Shanghai China top scorer in the world in these last international surveys now what about what else do we know one of the things we know is us is here in reading interest reading engagement they have indicators how much do you read how much do you enjoy reading how deep is the reading that you are doing hell are you

reading books are you reading newspapers so indicators of reading engagement have shown the u.s. to be about here which is the average of OA CD and we’re about twice as high as south africa but asians are three times higher again so they’re they’re going they’re doing three times more reading how do we empower that how do we help our kids become that involved that dedicated to to literacy acta learning through school so that’s our question we launched a study a five-year study it wasn’t the first five-year study I’ve ever done but it was a last five year study that I completed and we launched it in st. Mary’s County Maryland we began by interviewing students 260 260 twice and so we interviewed them and ask them questions and had little questionnaires we gave to them so for the one question information books in school are boring okay how do students do they agree do they think that’s true of them or not what do middle school students these are seventh graders what percentage of middle school students think information books are boring 75 real close real we didn’t need to do the survey we just could you give me your email seventy-five percent say information books and we define that for them as books they’re going to learn something from in school science books history books other book now what percentage of students actually that’s an attitude boringness what percentage actually start to do something start to take action based on that attitude what percentage are going to say well you know I don’t read these information books they’re flooring and therefore I don’t do it what percent do you think say this seventh graders straight mainstream all the seventh graders in a district kind of an average achieving district in the state of Maryland any ideas about your seventh graders how many of them just really don’t read too much information books ne ne forecasters ok make a small prediction it doesn’t have to be right expectation based on experience ok I have a very high number offered here it scares me to even say that number is there another is there another offering ok 45 ok I have three numbers I’m going to take the closest the clothes forty five percent of seventh graders average achieving and this is all the kids are saying you know here’s what they’re saying I try to get out of reading information books for school another phrase we had in this same ballpark of a of avoiding is I think information books are waste of time can you imagine this our whole future is being determined by whether they can do this or not and they’re saying it’s a waste of time I try to get out of it my friends and I plan on how we don’t we’re not going to read now it’s not all the students it’s certainly not the top 20% but this is overall we have terrifying for proportions to say it’s very true of me that I try to get out of reading information books for school or it’s somewhat true it’s almost fifty percent so the problem is our educational challenges here are our challenges for teaching this hard stuff but they’re also challenges for getting kids to believe it’s important to to actually find interest in doing it and to get energized to go in this direction so this is what I’m saying I’m saying we have dual challenges a cognitive challenge and a motivational challenge and and so now let’s look at a framework for thinking about that if we’re going to think about the outcome of reading instruction we’re thinking about achievement we’re all being measured by achievement some of the ingredients are reasoning literal understanding fluency vocabulary I don’t need to repeat David and Freddie’s magnificent messages about everything that goes on in the head that is the I’m saying at this point in time

that’s the outcome how do we get there reading engagement reading engagement meaning effort working hard at reading persistence getting through homework until it’s actually done putting in putting in the enthusiasm finding enthusiasm engagements now referring to doing the reading but doing it with interest enthusiasm and a sense of a sense of empowerment that that reading can provide you when you’re gaining knowledge that you like and value so this is engagement now okay no student did two minutes of close reading and suddenly was a high achiever okay there’s a high time involvement here this is deep engagement over long periods of time that’s where reading come from that’s why the South Koreans are up there they have very high engagement more than three times typically what we have kids doing in school so we want them to think about how do we get this thing to happen this reading engagement a teacher stands in front of a classroom and gives 20 magnificent lessons the kids aren’t going to be achieving unless what they’ve been engaged as a result of those lessons the kids have that’s what the powerful teachers are doing their fostering this engagement that’s deep and long lasting is going on for a long time so the two ingredients in this engagement are doing the things David and Freddie described to you that is to say doing the cognitive side doing the fluency the reasoning the vocabulary learning that the using background knowledge in order to comprehend new text these things must happen at the same time the other side of the coin is that the students need a collection of reasons to do it reasons to do it that you can turn the page for a second grader and help them terrific at fifth grade they have to turn the page themselves and in seventh grade they have to bring the book to school or find it and you need them to be one thing to do these things so we’re looking at a motivation and cognition as two sides of a coin but now which one do we spend our time planning which one do we spend our time assessing which one do we spend our time buying materials for which one cognition but are both sides of those coin needed cognition is giving you the skill set if you have the skill set don’t want to you is it what happens you can’t grow that skillset very well and you can’t go to the next grade very well so you need both now if you have the motivation but no tools you can’t grow either so we need my opinion my view is we should be spending half of our time on the on the other side the flip side the engagement side it’s half of it now in a big study of 70 countries that I was I helped out with the reading measure and we had questionnaires to students a huge analysis showed this to be true we had measures of how well they could think in order to read we have measures of their motivation to read and there are 5050 they’re equally important to fostering high achievement so now the good news is there’s a whole set of classroom practices that are shown to affect this thing of motivation and I will be going over these a little bit more but basically showing that the text is relevant to your life and your interests giving students choices in the nature of their reading giving students a sense of success so they believe themselves helping students see the importance of this reading today for me not like reading will help you when you’re 70 and collaborating with others to make sense of text and finally assuring a very high volume I’m going to go into each of these but these are the basic ingredients of a classroom practices that are fostering this motivation and engagement now what I want you to do is talk time look at and I’m going to bring the list back up this is this model we’re talking about talk to your partner and find one of these motivations look at one of these things self-efficacy which is confidence value which is believing in the importance intrinsic which is interest and social which is collaboration think about one of those

reasons for reading that you think your students most need and will most benefit from by getting more and will most likely boost their reading engagement ok so now back to the directional you’re looking at what using that model which motivation which of those four things and I know you may understand it only and completely is most urgently needed to build deep comprehension through extending engagement okay now this is find a partner at your table 2 minutes by my watch and we’ll look at what your answers are okay using this model one of those four motivations which one is most important to students you know alright I’m going to ask you to wind down I’m sure you’ve solved the engagement challenges of your school and I would like to draw your attention to the the next steps now first of all I think it was it was a great buzz I heard you really talking about how many people have talked to a professional colleague about motivation ever in her life time before some of you all right and we want and need more talk on what are the motivations that we need I’m going to move on and illustrate that I’m now going to present you a model we’ve designed assuming that that overall framework makes sense and there’s a mountain of research behind that framework for engagement development that I mentioned to you we have a model that we have applied I’m going to get a little bit specific and then I’m going to talk about the general engagement practices in broader terms this may be hard to read and the point here is not to have you understand this whole unit but this is a one month unit that we taught seventh graders all those seventh graders in a district for four weeks in history merging history and literacy and the point here is to understand the frame we have the overview so the overview is what’s the content causes of the Civil War the unit on the Civil War big concepts we identify the big concepts we wanted students to be learning economics culture slavery politics in week one now they aren’t going to be mastering those in week one but those are initial targets we’re what are we going to do to help students read the texts so the next use the next line is reading and comprehension instruction inferencing so we spent time on inference I’m going to show you how we did it what’s the motivation we are going to emphasize several motor patients across this unit we found that it helps teachers to focus on one at a time to get started then they can combine them put them together and have a more complete provision we’re going to emphasize success this is for 7th graders because we found that with 7th graders are given a really hard book it takes them about 30 minutes to decide whether they’re ever going to read it or not and if they say not yeah they mean it they won’t do it if they say they’ll read it you have a prayer of getting it opened maybe not learned but the point being we wanted to give them a new experience with learning history from texts and we wanted them to think like this could be new and different so we wanted to be sure that all of them succeeded on across a wide range kids who are reading college level down to grade 3 in 7th grade so our first goal was to avoid the failure and essentially the perception this is too hard for me because with that perception they closed off their energy in reading so that was our first week’s primary motivational goal although we did other things so we had a whole class text on grade leading text for on grade student reading struggling reader text and advanced reader text these big ideas economics culture slavery in politics in the Civil War big concepts are present in every tech in every text and they are treated in different ways with different

complexities of text independent writing required of everyone so that’s what week one look like week 2 was slightly shifting the main concepts going to summarizing as a teaching strategy using choices of motivational support again with texts evolving changing slightly week 3 military issues strategies leadership concept mapping taught emphasis on importance taught this is the the thing reading is boring it’s a waste of time I don’t do it okay we want to address that directly and lasts a collaborative motivation support so we have these concepts changing we have the strategies changing and we have the motivations shifting so students are getting a broad diet over time illustrating to you what is one week look like now I guess you probably can see the basics but not much so again for each week for each this is less than one week one we have concepts a video link now this is not to watch about history instead of reading about history but is to get kids primed and interested so they can get into text so the video gets and what we do is have students take notes talk to their friends write down what they learn from the video and we try to get the inference in going that we want them to be doing in reading so they’re watching a brief video writing what they learn talking about it then reading about the same topic the video was on so the video is seven minutes is not 40 is seven and then it’s followed with text that is very very related and then we’re going to ask inference in questions out it so they can bring things they saw from the video into their understanding of the text and get to some some successful reading comprehension and so how for success we have a debriefing question how did the video helped you feel confident in your reading what did the video do for your reading well kids will scratch their heads but then they’ll sell it gave me some information was interesting to see that man talking like that then I read about how he was talking I understood how we was red because I saw how he talked about it so the students now are connecting a piece of real world experience watching a video to a piece of text within the same 15-minute period so they’re linking real-life experience watching the videos real life for them and really text and that’s happening within the same short period of time so that the purpose of the text is to prime background knowledge capture the interest and help students feel like they can talk about this they can write about the causes of the Civil War and they can then move forward into text and do a similar thing so inferencing continues all week getting more complex the success support now success also is being supported here they’re supporting their self-efficacy with the text by giving that video background which is interesting and knowledge generating so we’re enhancing the probability they’re going to get the text and do something productive with it with the video so it’s having a motivational effect and a cognitive effect at the same time I mean I i could go on they are doing writing every day I’ve advanced reading now for the advanced readers I must tell you we found the hardest text we could find for it in history the hardest texts short of a college textbook and we gave him the students in the first year and it was ridiculously too easy for the top 20% and they ridiculed the program actually and so this became a pilot year because they made so much fun of the program it didn’t work so we found Scientific American texts discover magazine text sons high-level journals excerpted the articles simplified them a smallest amount put them in their own booklet and enrichment book and then the top 20% took off they were challenged sufficiently so this complexity of text has to be be understood across the range so our high students were being disengaged by not being challenged and when we did challenge them we had we got these other processes to be going success belief in themselves

collaboration we’re working if in fact we had the challenge level right so these are the kind of topics that we have had for four very different for different kinds of units animal survival and ecosystems so that’s a conceptual theme for fifth graders plant and animal interdependencies symbiosis mutualisms these are conceptual themes for 5th to 7th grade that we have used I just want to help you understand what we mean by a a big idea at the top so students have a big idea that they’re reaching for for four weeks now how do we get them to to succeed well we have a science so this is an example very specific example a day week one lesson 2 in this history unit so we have in this case I’m giving you a science example it works the same we have a four week science unit also History Unit students observe the video and they take notes students share their notes with a peer and they write the new ideas they learned from the discussion then they discuss their ideas with the whole class and the teacher post two or three big ideas that they got from this video so new knowledge is now being posted as a basis for their next learning activity so then the teacher models inferences using an inference encountered but what this is a kind of inference and guide we provided before inference inc what does this sentence mean it could be considered close reading we’re not the inference in yet we’re just actually making the text the text structure make first step of inference in making connections and we get so specific as this will say read the first sentence let’s say what that means in different words now since second sentence say what that means in different words now connect how are the first sentence and the second sentence related to each other kids will have ideas about that so now let’s go to the third sentence how’s the second third sentence in the second sentence related to each other take notes so we then we get is on the on one overhead there are these sentences and on another overhead the teachers writing the connections and at the end of a seven sentence passage we show the students here’s the passage seven sentences and here’s your connections twenty sentences so where is meeting coming from the meaning is coming more from me than it is from the text the students are empowered and gaining a sense of they can do it by having this extremely basics sentence by sentence inferencing activity and historians who were involved with this are saying you know they’re not just learning reading there they’re learning history so if you empower students to do a simple inferences like that they’re making connections with characters with plot with big ideas that his history people think is not just reading instruction anymore its content learning which it is so we are empowering them with those strategies and it gives them a sense of belief in themselves at the same time so we then have some guided reading activity I’m going to skip a little bit of this example to get to the basic processes of instruction so our first principle of instruction is a sure success assure success now that’s got good cognitive reasons for doing it but for students read its belief in themselves now one one way to assure success is providing texts that are readable regardless of what the Common Core says yeah don’t start with a non gray text for everybody because they won’t get there we all want to get to the goals of the Common Core but we want to start where the students have a foothold peer or teacher feedback so assuring success for the purpose of enabling students to see I can do this next providing relevance which is to say how do i connect to this text in elementary school hands-on science activities are phenomenal if you put a salamander on the desk of a 4th grader you got his attention right okay in in high school so in secondary school videos are very powerful and discover channel we would are as a very rich source of the brief videos that take the student out of the classroom into a world they can look at relook at and then connect and then and then it’s have

text explaining video and video illuminating text so it’s one of the forms of making text relevant to students this is a fifth grade class where some students had a horseshoe crab you can see the excitement here one horseshoe crab in a unit on ecology and of course you crab as you may know is its own community I mean it’s got parasites in there lots of good things happening in barnacles on it so it’s a community is a walking community and the kids can study that and go back to their books and learn so choices we suggest this is a crucial way in which students can take control of their learning who’s in charge if you have only direct instruction where the teacher gives a text the teacher asked a question the teacher gives a piece of paper to answer the question with student answers a question alone a teacher if you’re teaching let’s say summarizing and the students wrote a summary under direct instruction conditions how many choices were there in there for the student 0 most of the time it’s going to be 0 so many many of them and yet having some input into what am I reading what are the reasons I’m reading it for what are the questions I’m answering one of how am i showing that I know things these qualities are notably missing from good direct instruction so what we would like to move toward is students being somewhat in charge of themselves as learners and the best way to empower them with the feeling that they have some role in their own learning is giving small choices and I would recommend every teacher could and should ask for each lesson what choice am i giving my students today now doesn’t have to be a choice of whether to go to whether to leave class it’s not a choice of let’s go to the media center for the whole session it’s not a choice of well let’s put the text book on the shelf and forget that okay those are not the choices many choices inside lesson activities can be provided and we will in fact give students a little bit more investment in one page and a little bit more investment in Egypt in each activity so here’s a student and choice they were given is you find a paragraph and draw an inference between two sentences in that paragraph i write it down but this student is given a choice which of three paragraphs do you want to choose and which pairs of sentences do you want to choose that doesn’t matter the teacher which which paragraph oh it could under some condition but not always so this is a mini choice she didn’t have a choice to leave her her desk but she had a choice within the activity that empowered her to take take hold of it and make it her own very simple way this is not turning school over to the kids but this is it giving them a little sense that they’re in charge and and they are in charge collaboration we know about the power of social learning and we have kids reading and partners all the time small groups all the time one thing about collaboration and discussion of text is this the point of it in my view is to boost the reading engagement so a 45 minute discussion over two pages of text with three minutes of reading hasn’t been the right balance it hasn’t been the right balance because the the time spent in collaborative work and collaboration should increase many folds the time spent reading and thinking deeply not take the place of it but in enhance it so it’s true for all of these practices that in fact they should increase this volume of deep extended reading not not get in the way of it and Sophie a field trip where you go to a nearby city and you spend the whole day out of school and come back and talk about for two minutes about how interesting it was may not foster engaging you know may not be the way to get the kids to connect the outside world to their literature unless you’ve unless you’ve engineered it so in fact a field trip can engineer you know can launch a month of reading and writing if you set it up to do that or it can be really time all can be this engagement collaboration is extremely extremely potent and and Kim and needs to be frustrated importance by importance I

use this term because this is teacher emphasizing how the text is contributing to you now we found real quickly that we couldn’t walk to seventh graders and say okay if you read you will do very well in college later and so it’s important ah this didn’t seem to go over actually so what we did was give little experiences so we have the students read something work with a partner and then those two people explain their paragraph to another another group so then we would ask the kids what helped you explain well what helped me explain was we took notes on it what helped me explain was my partner had great ideas you know that’s what helped made it work would help us oh we read we read that helped me explain oh you what did you read the text but you read the text yeah did that help you very much well actually come to think of it I don’t think we could have done it without that they aren’t conscious of the fact that the text is this huge repository that’s empowering them to understand well enough to explain and when they realize it is they can track their successful explanation some classroom of event that worked for them back to a text that they were able to unlock they see the importance of reading they can’t say reading information book was a waste of time if it helping them explain really well so this is what we mean giving classroom experiences that empower the students to see the benefit of this literature interaction or text interaction for them now not five years later or even 20 minutes later it’s got to be now and so this is what we mean by emphasizing importance empower students to read a lot well how much I think I think the problem that core content standards are high order and complex we have to get kids to higher level complexity is a smaller problem then the problem that our students are in the main except for a high percentage except for twenty percent disengaged reading and we have to make a sea change in the depth and amount of their engagement so I think we need to boost the amount of reading they do in and out of school and this is and they won’t do it with the teacher turning the page of every magazine in book but they will do it if they have these reasons for reading self self confidence from success experiences a sense of empowerment and and being in charge from their choice and autonomy support experiences since that it’s important even may not be interesting today but it’s important to read this and it will benefit me in the sense that I can do this with others i’m in i’m in a i have partners i have a team and i can move forward so if they have these reasons they will engage in the high volume that we want them to be engaging in to build that expertise now i’m going to wind very quickly and by that I mean 60 seconds and so what I’m going to do is very simply show you this graph which is in a journal the reading research quarterly your beloved first choice in reading this month and this graph shows the red had students had received our intervention in the first period of this for this eight-week time so they for four weeks they were in our program and they went from this level of comprehension up and then they had traditional teaching by the same teachers they went down a little bit not significantly this this other band is a band of students who have that control treatment regular teaching as usual then they got our intervention in the second half so we had in the red line it’s one group of teachers who we trained to implement our program and they implement it for four weeks and the kids go up then they shift over to their regular program and the kids kind of go the same the second group of teachers kept teaching their regular program then they introduced ours so what this is showing is that a group of 20 teachers can learn to do these engaging practices and within a month they can move their kids forward in complex text comprehension

and if they decide to do the teaching in the first month the kids move up in the first month they decide to wait a month and do the teaching in the second month that’s when the students increase in difficult text comprehension now I’ve just given you a 3 sentence summary of a 30 page article in this journal but it was a culmination of that that grant where we had interviewed students the last thing I want to show you is this photo of a student in fifth grade the previous grant 5th grader I saw her her and I looked at her and I wanted a she intellectually challenged it may be you know she was mu d and hard to talk to she was redrawn and a little bit scared look at her face this is as a teacher you worry about this child this is before we began our intervention in the middle of the intervention here she was ok so the frown turns to a smile she’s got a bow in her hair she’s got a pencil in her hand and a boy across the table what can I say so the conclusion here is engagement is the the missing link in getting to the core content standards we know the processes these four motivations are beginning set there are more but these are fundamental teachers can understand these and have learned to make them happen more readily more frequently in classrooms and that one of the persons who is rewarded most is a teacher because the students are connected to their their lives in school in new ways and so and we have numbers to illustrate that in fact this works for the kids and when it works for the students is working for the principal and the district thank you very much you