With the push for common core rigor, many states have included paired passages in their state assessment. Paired passages and paired texts are a tricky skill for students, especially struggling readers.
I have written about how I implement rigorous paired passage instruction here. However, teaching paired passages can be so tricky and I still get lots of questions about how to to teach paired passages to meet the rigor of the standards. I want to share five ways or tips to effectively teach paired texts and paired passages so that all your students can find success. Hopefully these tips will give you some more resources and ideas add to your toolbox.
1. Use mentor texts to make it “authentic.”
When I first introduce the concept of paired texts, I do not use passages. I like to use authentic mentor texts. I follow this sequence:
- Read one text and discuss. Depending on the length of the text, this make take 1 or 2 days.
- Read the second text and discuss.
- Revisit both texts and compare and contrast them. I typically do this in a free for all format. We just openly compare and contrast anything that comes to mine.
- Revisit both texts for a more focused compare and contrast discussion. For this day, we specifically discuss skills such as theme, characters, etc.
2. Integrate across the curriculum.
One of my favorite ways to expose students to paired texts is through history topics. When learning about the Great Depression, we read and analyze informational text to learn the key facts and details. Then, we read picture books such as The Gardener and Saving Strawberry Farm to help the students “feel” what it was like during this time. The students are easily able to compare and contrast the two texts and understand the purpose for both.
3. Use high interest topics that will engage your students.
When creating paired passage resources, I tried to be very intentional about choosing a wide range of topics that would interest the majority of the students. I think it is important to teach the skill of analyzing paired texts with texts they will find engaging and interesting. Some of my students’ favorites are the texts on 9/11 and the exploring the moon. They also really enjoy my seasonal/holiday paired passages. This takes a tricky reading skill and makes it more enjoyable for the students.
4. Provide direct instruction on paired texts and passages, how to analyze them, and how to effectively answer questions about two texts.
When I began instructing my students on how to master paired texts and paired passages, I put myself in the minds of my students to think about what would hinder their progress or be confusing for them. I put together a set of posters that I use to “teach” the concept of paired passages and paired texts. These have been huge in helping my students find success. I introduce them early on and we refer to them on a regular basis when dealing with paired texts.
5. Use centers and collaborative activities.
This way of teaching paired passages is something I created last year. The previous year, paired text and paired passage instruction was primarily whole group or independent based. However, last year I knew that I wanted some resources for my students to practice working with paired passages in groups or pairs. I started taking my paired passages questions and making them in a task card format. This simple change made a huge impact. We would read the paired texts together and discuss as a class (not always – but most of the time). Then the students would answer the questions as part of a literacy center in a small group of 3-5 students. They loved having the chance to work together and discuss the passages. Click here and here to see the sets that provide questions in a task card format.
I wanted a center that I could use for any paired passages or paired texts that I was using with the students. I also wanted it to be general enough that I could also use with paired read alouds. So, I created a reader’s response “game” involving paired passages. Students work in pairs to roll a dice and answer a question. You can grab this FREE center here.
For this center, the students roll two dice and then answer the constructed response question they land on. This is designed as a partner game, but can also work as an independent center. Make sure you download this free center at the link above. It also includes two reading centers for individual texts as well.
Then, I wanted to take it even further and make paired passage practice into a game format. So this year, I created paired passage reading centers with the questions on a game board. This was a game changer! The students love this center the most. Each center (the resource contains five) includes two paired passages and a themed game board. The themed game board includes questions from each passage individually and then questions that require the students to use both passages. Click here to see these paired passage centers in my TeacherPayTeachers store.
Those are my best tips for how to teach paired passages and paired texts in my classroom. Do you have any tips to share? I am always looking for new ways to help my students master tricky skills. Let me know in the comments.