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Creating Text-Based Units for Literature Analysis and Reading Comprehension

From Theory into Practice

There are numerous time-saving resources available to teachers to prepare and deliver effective lessons. The teachers I’m currently coaching say that they absolutely enjoy using time-saving resources because:

  • ‘Everything is there.’

  • ‘It’s all done for you!’

And in a fast-paced and eventFULL environment, such as schools and classrooms, teachers want something they pick up and run with! I remember wanting the same thing as a classroom teacher- anything to save me time and energy! 

While the resources many teachers use are grounded in research, teachers aren’t always aware of the theory behind them before they launch into practice. Picking up and running with a pre-created resource is very much a game-changer for any educator, but if teacher knowledge and capacity is lacking around the fundamentals and background of these resources, then teachers aren't going to be able to implement them effectively and successfully for student success and engagement. 

I recently hosted a masterclass, ‘Creating Text-Based Units for Literature Analysis and Reading Comprehension’. (Term 3 masterclass coming soon). Many schools are currently exploring ways to make stronger and deeper, purposeful connections between reading and writing from an analysis and comprehension perspective through the use of mentor texts and quality literature. In some places, they’re called ‘text-based units’, in other places they’re known as ‘novel studies’, and some refer to them as ‘literature analysis’. For the purpose of this blog post, when referring to any of these, they all mean the same thing! 

Recently, I had a coaching conversation with a group of teachers who were teaching Tier 2 Vocabulary through their text-based unit, and although they were teaching Tier 2 Vocabulary, they didn’t actually know what ‘Tier 2 Vocabulary’ meant or the research behind it. It's quick and easy to use the time-saving resources, as long as there's an understanding of their purpose and elements. If teachers aren’t aware of the content they’re teaching or if they’re struggling to confidently and effectively teach content such as:

  • comprehension strategies

  • vocabulary

  • spelling

  • morphology/etymology

  • grammar

  • sentence structure

  • author’s craft/literary devices

then learning about and helping them understand the theory of what they’re teaching and why they’re teaching it is essential.

What has become clearer for me from the classroom coaching I’ve been doing, the research I’ve been reading and the conversations I’ve been having with classroom teachers and school leaders, is that teachers need more support in building their capacity and their knowledge around the theory that forms the basis of text-based units.

Some of the research and pedagogical approaches that underpin text-based units.

With a multidimensional approach to literacy and learning, I also take into account students as thinkers and inquiries, drawing on conceptual understandings when exploring and critiquing texts as readers and writers.

What makes a 'novel study', a novel study?

When looking for patterns and trends in research, analysing literature and deep-diving into comprehension, a text-based unit is comprised of many fundamentals that underpin the teaching and learning.

With the help of school leaders and classroom teachers, I’ve narrowed it down to only SEVEN key elements that make a text-based unit, a text-based unit!

  • What do you think? 

  • What would you add?

  • What would you change? 

Once teachers understand these fundamentals, they can adapt the seven key elements to suit the needs of their own students. This will not only strengthen their capacity and deepen their theoretical knowledge but also lead to more success and engagement with a shared understanding and clear purpose behind text-based units.

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