I was recently asked by one sixth grade team to help determine student needs around our favorite topic, text dependent analysis. The TDA is naturally on many minds as we approach testing season. I decided to begin this work by finding out what kids can do and what they need to know before moving forward.
After giving two classes of sixth graders a preassessment which included a short text and a TDA prompt, I read all the responses and determined the strengths and needs., and from there the first chapter of The Adventures of TDA began.
What We Know vs What We Found
What we know from our TDA trainings is that readers need to look through two lenses in order to make inferences and show a new understanding. What we found was that half of the sixth graders wrote a summary of the story when asked to analyze how the author developed the theme. A large number wrote a summary then tagged a theme at the the end. A small number wrote the theme and tried to support it with text evidence in the form of quotes. And only 5% of the students attempted to use one lens but did not take what they noticed to a new understanding.
What we did discover, and this will make so many teachers happy, was that of the 45% who determined a theme, all but one had a theme that worked for the story and none of the themes were one word! That is amazing!
After seeing what students needed, I pulled all the resources around TDA including the Student Friendly Learning Progressions we created based on the Learning Progressions released from The Center for Assessment and PDE. From there I created an anchor chart that would focus the learning as we moved forward.
Before beginning any instruction, I rolled up my sleeves and took the preassessment myself. This way I had even more insight into the challenges of the work and what strategies I used myself that may help kids.
I think before starting anything new, it’s so important to let students preview the kind of work we will be doing. I copied my TDA, and we looked at one paragraph at a time. I read the paragraph aloud and instructed students to turn, talk, and jot about what they noticed.
The sixth graders were awesome and noticed a lot! After each paragraph we regrouped and I shared what I heard them say in their partnerships, adding in some of the things they did not notice. After examining all of the paragraphs, I showed them the anchor chart to highlight what they would be learning in the next couple weeks.
Tomorrow we begin the real work. As we move forward, I will share what we did and what we noticed. I’m looking forward to taking on the Adventures of TDA with these awesome sixth graders and their teachers and sharing our learning and planning with all of you!