Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Day 23 #SOL21 Contemplating Cross Text Synthesis



A small group of colleagues graciously joined me in an asynchronous Voxer book club focused on Dr. Jan Burkins & Kari Yates brilliant new book, Shifting the Balance. So far, we've read the introduction and Shift #1. The ideas we've encountered have sparked rich conversation and deep inquiries into big ideas.


Our initial dialogue centered around the value and importance of developing strong oral listening comprehension. One of my whip-smart friends asked, "How do you think this research plays out for kids who spend more time on screens, rather than listening to actual adults?" We chatted about the power of serve and return interactions, and we developed theories about why some kids transfer their listening comprehension seamlessly to print, while others struggle with orthographic mapping. The organic nature of our collaborations feels incredibly motivating, and I appreciate how one wondering always leads to another. 

Because I am choosing to digest this professional text slowly, I decided to start a different eBook I could read on the elliptical machine while I worked out at the gym each morning. It's nonfiction too, but it's not a professional read. I guess you'd probably find Ethan Kross's book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It, in the psychology or self-help section at Barnes & Noble. This particularly excerpt caused me pause. 

Within minutes of beginning the book, my mind immediately turned to my new learning from Burkins & Yates. Our ability to hear and interpret words plays such an essential role in our literacy development. Yet those same words, hold equal power in our emotional and mental growth. The intersectionality of these ideas elicited fascination and provoked intrigue. 

Reading these two titles in tandem got me to thinking about the cross-text synthesis work we ask our students to do. Unfortunately, this often manifests in the form of standardized test questions, which limits the true value of the cognitive complexity required of this demanding task. Synthesizing two texts at once pushes us to think in new ways and unveils hidden through-lines that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Pairing these two titles was a bit unintentional, but I'm thankful they enhance and compliment one another. Perhaps I should reference this helpful learning progression as I continue my journey through each informational text.



  1. Tenille, I love this unintentional stacking and intersectionality you discovered. It's fascinating, and proves yet again that you move in the world as an educator - always thinking about students, how we are teaching them, and what we are asking of them. In this week's newsletter, Angela Stockman (not sure if you get her newsletter, but I love it - mostly on multimodal meaning making and composition), encouraged us to pile books we'd never imagine had anything to do with one another, and then find 'hinges' (my word, but that was the point), to connect the texts to one another. Your juxtaposition of learning reminded me of just that! Powerful for us to push beyond liminality. XOX

  2. This. Is. Fascinating. Must obtain Chatter immediately and dive in. My favorite phrase in the passage you shared was "function productively outside ourselves". That gave me a good chuckle about myself. My favorite phrase you've used in this space today is "how one wondering always leads to another". This is the power of curiosity...