Section one was a great way to dive into this topic and I found the text is pairing nicely with the other summer PD book I am studying, Disrupting Thinking. The need to develop readers that can think deeply (Vinton), be responsible, be responsive, and be compassionate (Beers & Probst) is critical.
As a gifted intervention specialist, the view of “text complexity” has always been a hot topic. Parents are often concerned that their child is not reading “challenging enough” texts. Given that the chronological age, emotional age, and reading ability of my children is extremely mismatched, I find I advise parents often to not look at the “level” of the text as a measure. My students can read high lexile leveled text because they have the ability. But they often do not have the maturity to handle the topics, themes, and situations presented in texts that are push their vocabularies. This is why I turn to picture books. And this is why I felt so affirmed by Vicki Vinton’s call for teachers to re-evaluate what “complexity” means. Complexity is about the variables a reader brings to a text… I love it! My students can be challenged by the simplicity of Matt de la Pena’s Last Stop on Market Street because they can work through the meaning. They live in suburbia, in a predominantly “white” town with varying levels of affluence. To relate to an inner-city child of color is a stretch. Sometimes my students are more challenged by plot and character than they ever are by vocabulary and their content knowledge!
The idea of convergent thinking also resonated with me. I have always been ‘resistant’ to explicitly stating learning objectives to students at the beginning of lessons and I still am. I have found learning for my students to be more powerful when they uncover it. If I tell them what they are going to learn, then they often stop there. However if I present an opportunity for them discover and put pieces together on their own, not only do they almost always learn what I had hoped but they learn more than I could have ever imagined. I feel that we uncover what we need when we truly let a ‘text set an agenda’.
So here is where I make another connection to Distrupting Thinking…the idea of reading with a “book-head-heart” framework. (More info here: https://hwlearninglinks.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/disrupting-thinking-3/) If we arm students with some simple ideas, they will develop those problem solving capabilities that we know they need. If we ‘overscaffold’ and feed students too much info, then we do “rob students of fully experiencing…rob them of the opportunity to figure things out themselves…” (Vinton pg. 10).
Thus when Vinton asserts that we should “assess text complexity by how much a reader has to figure out that the writer has conveyed directly” (pg. 22) I am like YES!!!! This is what I have been trying to tell parents for years! Our children need the opportunity to ‘wrestle with a text’s message, idea, or theme’ and through that struggle they are challenged, changed, or perhaps confirmed in what they know (Beers & Probst).
Many parts of this section just grabbed me. Rather than quote them all however I think I will just share the two pages of sketchnotes I created as I contemplated and reflected on what I took in. I am inspired and eager to grow further!