The Teacher Tip

Develop a Critical Stance for Reading Nonfiction

April 14, 2017

Adapted from ReadingNonfiction: Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies, by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst


Reading nonfiction, we’ve come to understand, is some of the most important reading students will do. If they are to read it well, we must help them develop the habits of mind that let them read with a skeptical eye and an open mind.


You can help students develop this stance by giving them three Big Question to keep in mind as they read nonfiction:

·       What surprised me?

·       What did the author think I knew?

·       What changed, challenged, or confirmed what I already knew?


Reading with these Big Questions in mind encourages a critical, attentive stance and develops habits of mind that—if we can instill them in our students—may help them deal more attentively and intelligently with the nonfiction texts they will encounter throughout their lives.


Beers, Kylene, and Robert E. Probst. 2013. Reading Nonfiction:Notice and Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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