As teachers, our goal is to see every student succeed. Students enter our classrooms with a wide range of reading skills, and it’s our responsibility to use teaching methods that meet their needs. I’ve found a strategy called rolling text sets to be very effective for all of my middle school students—and particularly those who may need extra reading support.
Rolling text sets allow students to build deep knowledge while keeping the cognitive load manageable for them. Many readers who do not feel confident in vocabulary and background knowledge are intimidated by long, complex texts. Mary Ann Cappiello, a professor of language and literacy, explains that text sets make “texts at higher reading levels more accessible for all students” because they intentionally build student vocabulary and background knowledge before introducing students to more complex texts that stretch students to think critically about a topic.
DEVELOP COMPREHENSION AND VOCABULARY INCREMENTALLY
Rolling text sets are a short series of articles that allow students to build content knowledge and vocabulary in a way that is very attainable. Essentially, a rolling text set contains five to 10 articles that are taught during a one-to-two-week unit and that sequentially increase in length and complexity. The articles in the beginning of a rolling text set are very short. Cappiello says that “shorter texts have the greatest potential for building prior knowledge on a topic so that students can later tackle longer, more complex texts.” At the end of a text set, students are reading very complex, high-level articles.
Text sets can be adapted to fit any grade level or for any topic. Here is an example of a rolling text set I use with my sixth-grade social studies students.