Embracing Complex Texts

About a year ago, the curriculum coordinator in our school district introduced me to a few reading strategies as outlined and demonstrated by Kelly Gallagher.  I browsed through the material at first, but soon started reading every word and searching for more best-practice gems from Gallagher.  As a 16 year educator of High School English-Language Arts in the United States, I found these strategies accessible, appealing,  and, quite frankly, refreshing.

In February of 2012 I had the opportunity to listen to Gallagher deliver a keynote presentation and, shortly after,   engage a smaller audience as part of a break-out session at the Wisconsin State Reading Association Conference held in Milwaukee.  Honestly, Gallagher’s presentations were effective oral representations of his books, and, by the time I had the opportunity to hear him speak I had consumed several of his books.  He did provide a few demonstrations that were helpful, but I felt as though I had a great foundation of his philosophy from reading.  For the record, the ideas, educational philosophies, and strategies Gallagher has to share are worth repeating (and hearing again) as I find myself using his books as a resource and reference frequently throughout the academic week.

In his book, Deeper Reading, Gallagher details an overarching strategy to help and support students in embracing complex texts.  As I have put his recommendations to the test – that is, actually used the best-practice techniques he offers in a real classroom with real students over the course of 180 student-teacher contact days – I have found that his suggested techniques, when used judiciously, are effective in supporting and encouraging our students to become better readers, better writers, and better thinkers, independently and critically.

I have been able to articulate and utilize an adaptation of Gallagher’s masterful approach to complex texts.  Here are the steps I have outlined for my students here in Seymour, Wisconsin:

  1. Access and/or Build Background Knowledge
  2. Read
  3. Discuss
  4. Re-Read
  5. Discover
  6. Real-Life Application

Over the course of the next several days, I will share an explanation and justification for each step.

I want each of my students to always have quick, confident responses to the following questions:

  • What is your favorite book?  Why?
  • What was the last book you read? Why?
  • What book are you currently reading? Why?

By becoming exposed to and embracing complex texts, I am hopeful students willingly take the risk to find the value, beyond standardized testing and common core standards, in reading.



About jpsteltz

Proud husband and father of four; Literacy Specialist; Reading Teacher; Literacy Coach; HS ELA Teacher; Published Author
This entry was posted in Education, Education Administration, Reading, students, Teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Embracing Complex Texts

  1. Pingback: Embracing Complex Texts: Accessing and Building Background Knowledge « John Steltz: Teacher/Author

  2. Pingback: Embracing Complex Texts: Supporting First Reads « John Steltz: Teacher/Author

  3. Pingback: Embracing Complex Texts: 2nd Draft Reading | Beauty Beyond the Surface

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