Slice of Life – Day 3

Notice and Note – Nonfiction in 2nd Grade

Teachers in the primary grades have been asking if Notice and Note (Beers & Probst, 2015) ( would be good for them to learn about. As I’m considering holding virtual book clubs this summer for both fiction and nonfiction, this was a question I wanted to carefully consider. The book lists that it was written for 4th through 10th grades. Today, I set to find out for myself.

I met with a group of 2nd grade readers that have been working with texts at levels N/O. I am using a book entitled: Slap, Squeak and Scatter: How Animals Communicate, by Steve Jenkins. I chose this one because I appreciate books that are different. The first way this book is different is because it has illustrations that make it look like an Eric Carle book. This helped me start instruction by talking with students about how photographs are not the only way to tell if a book is nonfiction.

Next, I explained that noticing or closely reading parts of a nonfiction text helps readers figure out the author’s message and purpose better. Then, we conducted a book walk so students would be familiar with the organization of the text. Next, we read the introduction page and predicted what the book would be about: ways that animals communicate.

Then, I introduced the first signpost: contrasts and contradictions. We discussed the word “contradiction” because, while I was sure they had heard of “contrast,” I wanted to make sure they felt comfortable with this new word. In reading with the signpost in mind, I asked students to look for information that was different than what they originally thought. We read the first section of the text, then discussed what they noticed. Each page in the section on how animals communicate danger contained details that the students didn’t know before. As a follow-up, I asked students why the author wanted them to know information that was different than what they originally thought about each animal. Students shared that the author wanted to make them experts in this information and to not think like they did when they were younger. I asked, is it bad that you thought differently before you read this book? They responded that correcting a mistake in the way they thought made them smarter.

I will introduce a second signpost tomorrow and the third on Monday. This book does not lend itself to using all of the signpost. Learning three of them is great work for this age group. What I can say with confidence after today is that 2nd graders can definitely “handle” this type of thinking, and that “contrasts and contradictions” is a great close reading strategy to introduce to these readers. Today, it helped them grow in how they notice information when they are reading.

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life – Day 3

  1. So interesting, Aileen! I am always amazed at what our youngest learners can do when you present a strategy well! Sounds like they nailed it. It would be interesting to see how they transfer it to independent work.

    Not that I don’t love when you write in your own voice, but will Liam be returning?

  2. I’m so glad you wrote about this! I have been a literacy coach for the past two years, but will be returning to the classroom to teach second grade in the fall. I’ve wondered about the same questions you described, and I loved reading about how your students reacted! Sounds like this resource plus your great instruction was a hit! Thanks for sharing about it–now I will try it as well!

  3. Aileen, I’ve grappled with this too. What I have done is use the questions that go along with the signpost and not actually teacher the terms “contrasts & contradictions”. Then once the students are familiar with the six probing questions I go back and attach the official signpost terminology. This has allowed for the deep comprehension to occur in a more gradual way. Glad your lesson went well. Happy Signposting!

  4. Love this book. Taught this in a PD to Middle School teachers and was fortunate enough to attend a workshop with Beers and Probst. Smart small with the signpost but most importantly…start!!

  5. I so appreciate the thinking in N&N non fic. Your post makes me want to go try it with 2nd graders. Your talk with these students clearly demonstrates the critical thinking we want our kids doing when they read.

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