Digging deeper is always a goal of educators when teaching reading. When the book Notice and Note by Kylene Beers, Robert E Probst was published and put into circulation, teachers took “notice” of a way to “note” different events in stories that helps students engage in meaningful discussion of literature. These events were called signposts. As a reader comes upon a signpost, they are to notice the signpost and note what it means to them.
The first signpost is Contrasts and Contradictions. This is the point in the novel where a character’s actions or thoughts clearly contradict previous patterns, or contrast with patterns the reader may normally expect, suggesting a change or new insight into the character.
The second signpost is Aha Moments. These are moments when a character’s sudden insight or understanding helps us understand the plot’s movement, the development of the character, or the internal conflict he/she faces. Aha Moments are almost always revealed with very direct language from the character such as “l realized…” or “I suddenly understood..” Aha Moments are when the character figures something out and therefore changes the character and often times the plot itself.
The third signpost is Tough Questions. This is a point in the story when the main character-a child or a teen- pauses to ask himself or a trusted other a tough question. Sometimes these questions appear not as questions but as statements, often with the word wonder such as “Iwonder what I should do about…” These moments of uncertainty give readers insight into the character’s development and internal conflicts.
The fourth signpost is Words of the Wiser. This is a point in the novel which a wiser and often older character offers a life lesson of some sort to another character.
The fifth signpost is Again and Again. This is an image, word, or situation that is repeated, leading the reader to wonder about its significance. This repetition may provide information about a character, a conflict, the setting, or about the theme.
The sixth signpost is Memory Moment. This is a scene that interrupts the flow of the story and reveals something important about a character, plot, or theme. It is the remembered event in the story that marks this moment for the reader.
In our future blog posts on this topic, we will be visiting each of the six signposts in more detail. Our goal is to provide you with background knowledge and practical tips to implement this into your classroom.
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