Rich Talk about Text
P. David Pearson
Graduate School of Education
University of California,
Reminders from Scott
• Close Reading
– What do you think?
– What makes you think so?
• Teachers, like readers, develop both a text base
and a situation model for the PD we offer to
– Hence the variability in uptake and implementation.
– Stay the course, just in time feedback…
• Teaching for Cognitive Engagement
• Look for presentations by me
• Also a site to learn more about the work I
am doing on science and literacy with
primary grade kids.
• You have in place a program of comprehension
instruction for skills and strategies
– Reciprocal Teaching
– Transactional Strategies Instruction
• You have taken a position on what sort of
assessments you are you going to use to assess
students’ growth in reading
– I like performance assessments--open ended, but…
This is a goal
• For every child
• In every classroom
• In every grade
• Being satisfied with good decoding and word
recognition is not enough
• Being satisfied with great fluency is not enough
• It is comprehension, understanding, enjoyment,
and insight for every child.
Talk about Text
• An environment rich in high-quality talk
– student-to-student talk.
• Many levels
– Text base: clarifying and connecting
– Situation model: relating, interpreting
– Critique and evaluation
We have pretty good models
and research on this score
•Questioning the Author
•Junior Great Books
Aesthetic-Expressive •Grand Conversations
•Paidea Seminar Critical Analytic
•Philosophy for Children
Murphy et al Meta-analysis
• What’s the underlying theory of all of
Change talk: Change Change
focus and understanding comprehension
distribution of text at hand repertoire
• Pre-post effects • Most things work
are more to a degree
impressive than • Kids get better
comparative with help…and
effects. maybe without it
• Effects are more • Transfer is hard
impressive on • or
researcher • Standardized tests
designed than are insensitive.
• Stronger effects • Changes in
on talk than participation are a
comprehension. necessary but not a
• Some evidence of • Probably means you
you get what you gotta do it all…
pay for, especially • Literal
for critical • Inferential
thinking. • Critical
• Seems to be more • Ironically, most of us
important for spend more
average and low discussion time with
the high achievers
• Beware self-delusion
• Time matters: • Stay the course
longer is better • Ironically, we tend to
• Some don’t • Insist on measures of
measure talk and
• Measure many kinds
• Don’t measure of comprehension,
many types of including stuff not
comprehension directly taught.
A great example from New
Toughest Problem: Promoting
higher level talk about text
• In our CIERA work, the good news is
that when we see it, it improves learning
and achievement, but…
• The bad news is that we don’t see it very
Supporting talk about text
Conversational Move Definition Example (Student talk) Scaffolds (Teacher talk)
Restating Repeating a previous contribution Linda said that the fish was sad, Can someone say that in a different way?
because he was lonely.
Inviting Inviting a participant to contribute d
IÕ like to hear what George thinks. Do you want to invite anyone else to add to what you
Acknowledging or Recognizing a response without I can see why you said that. Do you get wh at Juan is trying to say here?
validating agreeing or disagreeing re
I get what youÕ saying.
I hadnÕ thought of that.
Focusing/refocusing Making a metacomment about the We were talking about the reasons that I think IÕ lost track of the question we were trying to
course of the conversation Frank ran away from home. answer. Can anyone help me here?
Agreeing I agree, becauseÉ Does anyone agree with Juan? (agreeing)
ThatÕs ight, becauseÉ
I see what youÕ saying, butÉ Does anyone want to disagree?
But wh at aboutÉ? Does anyone see it another way?
I disagree, becauseÉ Do you all see this the same way as Juan?
Elaborating Extending oneÕsown or anotherÕs I agree with Juan that the fish was Does anyone want to say something more about that?
assertion lonely, and I think that he... Who can think of another solution or another reason?
Requesting clarification What do you mean? Can you say more Does anyone want to raise any questions about the point
or elaboration about that? What makes you think that? that Juan is trying to make?
Anyone find anything confusing in this part of the story?
Providing an example Providing an example from inside For exampleÉ Can you give an example of É from the story?
of the text or outside to support ItÕslike whenÉ Has anything like this ever happened to you or someone
oneÕs o or anotherÕsassertion.
wn you know?
Examples can be explanatory or Can you think of an example from another story by this
Signaling a change Changing the direction of the I want to talk about the mother. Does anyone want to change the subject?
conversation Are you ready to move on?
Does anyone want to ask a different question?
Providing evidence s
Supporting oneÕ own or I agree with Julie that the fish was sad. Why do you think that?
anotherÕsassertions with evidence You can see his sad face in the picture Anything in the story to support that idea?
on page 3. Can you point to something in the text that makes you
Posing a question to the Does anyone thinkÉ ? Do you have a question for the group?
Same teacher--more scaffolding
Different Teacher--More Novice
Kids: Even more scaffolding
The nature and amount of
scaffolding is a matter of being
Texts and Tasks
Gradual Release of Responsibility
With any luck, we move this way (----->) over time.
Gradual Release of Responsibility
0 Student Responsibility 100
Changing Teacher Roles
High Teacher Low Teacher
Low Student High Student
Au and Raphael Participating
From Duke & Pearson
The Rand A variant of
Sociocultural Kintsch’s model
Questions for Stories
• Read the text for the big ideas
• Generate some probes to get at them
– Go from general to specific
• So what is important about this story?
• So is this story more about the plot or the characters?
• So what does this story tell us about how human beings look out
for one another?
– Go for Response before Comprehension
– Go for comprehension to support response or claims: facts in
the service of claims about the world—Accountable Talk
– Work for a unified understanding of plot, character, feelings,
• Somewhere Somebody Wanted a Problem Solved…
Generating Questions for
• Read the text
• Record what you think are the big ideas
• Read it again, looking for connections
among the big ideas*
• Generate a set of questions that will get
you the big ideas and the connections
*When you can’t find big ideas and relations among
them, question whether to use the text!
Talk, Skills and Strategies
• Conversations about stories and informational
texts can be a context in which a lot of good
strategy instruction CAN occur, if we are
willing to seize teachable moments (just in time
teaching) to show kids how to use strategies to
solve problems and make text sensible.
• That’s the genius of Instructional
• That’s what happens in good RT conversations.
Contextualizing what I have
• A good model
• Solid instruction
• Thoughtful assessment
• Supportive instructional environment
What that supportive context
Daniella using all the cues
This is a Formula for a
Renaissance (maybe a revival?)
• A great deal of time spent actually
The nature of texts
• The texts are interesting and comprehensible and
sufficiently varied so that all students can find texts to
relate to (interest and motivation).
• Daily, students read texts that are personally
interesting and easy to read. Why? So that students
can consolidate their learning of skills and strategies.
• Also on a daily basis, students read, with teacher
support, more challenging texts. Why? In order to
stretch their knowledge and skill repertoire.
Establish tomorrow’s prior knowledge.
The nature of texts in
1. While common sense suggests that some of these texts
should allow students to apply the decoding and
comprehension skills they are learning, there is
precious little evidence to support the creation and use
of special instructional texts for this purpose.
2. The current corpus of
children’s books contains
numerous texts that provide
many of the opportunities
• The big ruckus from the National
• Should we promote independent reading?
What people think NRP says
• Don’t provide time for independent
What NRP really says
• The evidence is too sketchy to draw any
conclusion one way or another…
– About school-based programs to promote
My own view
• The lack of credible evidence one way or
another is no basis for getting rid of programs
that have other virtues
• Is reading the only phenomenon in human
experience that doesn’t get better with practice
• If you do it, do it right and do it well
– Make sure kids have things to read
– Make sure kids DO read
– Provide incentives and support
Comprehension Activities in K
and early 1
• In the context of teacher read alouds
– Texts that merit the sort of engagement and
depth of thinking we want to promote.
– Finesse the decoding issue
• Warning: You can’t stay there forever.
Must get to texts kids read themselves
• Experience reading real texts for real
Beware the textoid problem
• When we select texts that have been
especially written to permit some sort of
• We run the risk of reifying these texts
• Making real something that isn’t
• They only exist on tests and workbook
materials designed to get you ready to
take the tests.
Sue’s grandmother lives on a farm. Ellen’s
grandmother lives in the city. Sue’s
grandmother, who just turned 55, phones Sue
every month. Ellen’s grandmother, who is also
55, sends Ellen e-mails several times a week.
Both grandmothers love their granddaughters.
• How are Sue and Ellen’s grandmothers alike?
– They both love their granddaughters
– They both use e-mail
– They both live on a farm
• How are they different?
– They live in different places
– They have different color hair
– They are different ages
• Experience reading at least the range of text
genres that we wish students to comprehend.
– Substantial experience reading and writing it.
– No automatic transfer across genres
A special note on the narrative
centrism in primary instruction
• Why shouldn’t we just focus on stories?
• We surely want to include instruction and
activities in response to stories, but…
• We don’t want to limit our instruction and
activities to stories
– The range issue
– The power of information
– Individual differences in preference and interest
• It really matters
• Later today
Enabling skills: Decoding,
Fluency, and Monitoring
• Substantial facility in the accurate and
automatic decoding of words.
• Necessary but not sufficient for
When rules get in the way…
• Lots of time spent writing texts for others to
comprehend. Again, students should experience
writing the range of genres we wish them to be
able to comprehend. Their instruction should
emphasize connections between reading and
writing, developing students’ abilities to write
like a reader and read like a writer.
Why Writing Helps Reading
• You can’t write without reading: the writer’s first
• When you write, you often seek information through
• Writing makes the metaphor “constructing a model of
meaning” completely explicit.
• Writing helps us decide what we really “think” about a
topic (stares back at you).
• Writing makes metacognition transparent (makes
Why Writing Helps Reading
• Writing reinforces some reading processes
– An authentic context for phonemic awareness (listen
to the word in parts, match a letter to each part)
– Examining claim and support is like unearthing the
relationship between MI and Details
• By the way, reading helps writing too--by
providing good models of well-crafted prose,
spelling, and punctuation.