Teaching with Text Sets

We wrote Teaching with Text Sets in 2012 because we witnessed the power of children’s literature to engage students, inspire deep content exploration, and differentiate instruction. We’d also seen the potential for digital multimodal texts to transform K-8 classrooms. This book was an outgrowth of our work as classroom teachers, teacher educators, and researchers.

In 2014, Teaching with Text Sets was a finalist for the Revere Award from the Association of American Publishers. You can find out more about our ideas in this one-hour free 2014 recorded webinar from Follett Library Resources.

What is a text set? A multimodal, multigenre text set is a versatile teaching tool for the classroom. By multigenre, we mean all traditional genres of literature, as well as purpose-driven types of writing, from blog entries to recipes. By multimodal, we mean texts that vary in modality - visual texts, such as video, photographs, visual art, and primary source documents; audio recordings such as music, podcasts, and radio broadcasts; and digital texts that are multimodal in their construction. Text sets are related by content (topic, theme, essential question) or by genre.

Why Text Sets? As teachers, we have always viewed ourselves as curriculum designers. We believe we are at a crossroads in American public education, when teachers should be empowered to take the lead, creating and shaping curriculum that they know works for the students they teach. We believe that teachers need to teach higher order thinking skills, integrate content, and use authentic texts. This book was our first step in trying to shape the conversation about using texts of all genres in developmentally appropriate contexts. We also wanted to move past the dichotomy between fiction and informational text, to a more nuanced exploration of how all genres can be used simultaneously.

What’s in the book? The book is divided into three parts, showing you how to teach with multimodal, multigenre text sets and giving you the concrete tools you need to do so. Part I discusses our specific process of creating and organizing text sets within a unit of study. Part II demonstrates text sets in action, sharing our work in two classrooms. Part III provides you with more examples of what text sets look like and the teaching possibilities those text sets can suggest. It is our hope that readers can use the resources in Part III, including a comprehensive list of digital multimodal resources for different content areas, to start using text sets in their own classrooms.

What is unique about Teaching with Text Sets? We know that since 2012, many educators have been talking about text sets. The portion of the book that excites us the most is that dedicated to our unique models for organizing texts for instruction, found in chapter four. These visual models are examples of how texts can be carefully positioned in conversation with one another to foster rich and specific intellectual inquiry in classrooms. The models can be used alone or in combination to structure your use of texts in a unit of study.

You can buy the book here.