TEACHING STRATEGY

Agree/Disagree Statements

Close and Critical Reading
Grade Level
3-5

What?
Agree/disagree statements challenge students to think critically about their knowledge of a topic, theme or text. The strategy exposes students to the major ideas in a text before reading—engaging their thinking and motivating them to learn more. It also requires them to reconsider their original thinking after reading the text and to use textual evidence to support and explain their thinking.


When?

Before and after reading


Why?

Completing agree/disagree statements establishes the purpose for reading. By thinking about what they are about to study, students explore preconceptions about topics and themes and then reflect on both the text and on their original thinking after reading the text.


How?

This strategy requires modeling and repetition to allow for gradual release of responsibility to the student.

Preparation:

  1. Select a central text.
  2. Read the text. Identify the major ideas.
  3. Develop agree/disagree statements that relate to the text's main ideas. Statements should derive from topics or claims that are directly or indirectly discussed in the text. 
  4. Designate two areas in the room—one with an “Agree” sign and one with a “Disagree” sign.

Before Reading:

  1. Distribute an agree/disagree handout to each student. Review the directions with students and give them 5 minutes to complete columns 1 and 2 on the handout.
  2. Refocus student attention. Read each agree/disagree statement aloud to the class. After each statement, ask students to quietly move to stand under the “Agree” or “Disagree” sign depending on their opinion.
  3. Ask for 2-3 volunteers from each perspective to explain their choices. When applicable, prompt students to respectfully respond to their classmates with competing viewpoints.
  4. Let students know they will revisit these statements, their opinions and their reasoning after reading the text.

During and After Reading:

  1. Read the central text aloud to the class while students follow along in their heads. This first reading is meant to promote fluency—by giving students the chance to hear a complex text read by a skilled and fluent reader—and to give students the opportunity to determine the gist of the text. 
  2. Instruct students to read the text again, independently, with the agree/disagree handout in hand.
  3. Revisit the agree/disagree statements as a whole class.
  4. Ask students to independently complete columns 3 and 4 of the handout, evaluating whether they still agree or disagree with the statement and why. In order to complete column 4 and explain “why” they feel this way, students need to include evidence from the text in their response.
  5. Option 1: Students remain in their seats for a class discussion about changes in student responses as a result of reading the text.
  6. Option 2: Students again move to the designated areas in the room to show whether they agree or disagree with each statement, and a class discussion ensues similar to before reading.


English language learners

According to Common Core authors David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, “Student background knowledge and experiences can illuminate the reading but should not replace attention to the text itself.”2 Anticipation guides activate students’ prior knowledge and set the stage for reading by exploring textual concepts first. Understanding what content and sociocultural knowledge students bring to the task allows you to adapt the lesson appropriately and to know your students more authentically.


Connection to anti-bias education

Anti-bias education goals require students to challenge texts, think critically about social justice issues, and question their presuppositions. The anticipation guide is one way to ensure responsive teaching and use the student’s prior knowledge to engage in authentic learning.