This page provides more detailed information about how to use the Bookmark to support English learners in focusing on language and meaning as they read. You can also read a general description of how to use the Bookmark tool for Interpretation, Critique, and Counterargument.

For readers for whom the information in the text is not immediately accessible as they read, detailed reading and discussion, prompted by the different bookmark questions, supports deeper comprehension and prepares them to discuss the meaning of the source, identify evidence they can use in their arguments, and reason about the text’s reliability.

The Bookmark has three sections. The first section asks students to identify information in the Headnote and Attribution. These who, where, when, and why questions will likely be accessible to your English learners with proficiency levels of low intermediate and above.

The middle section of The Bookmark helps readers unlock the meaning of the source text itself by offering questions that you can work with as language supports for your low intermediate and above English learners. When you use these language-focused prompts with English learners, take extra time with the source, moving through it sentence by sentence to focus on the language features that the bookmark prompts bring to their attention (see below) and talking about the meaning and how it relates to the overall topic or central question of the investigation. This is also a good time to focus on the meaning of unfamiliar vocabularyas the vocabulary will become meaningful in part through their reading of it in context. This dialogue as you move through the text, talking about the language and its meaning, will support English learners in their comprehension of the sources and better prepare them to discuss issues of reliability and the claims and evidence the source supports.

The teacher’s guide and the slides for each source identify the bookmark question that is most relevant to that source. This bookmark prompt relates to specific language features (discussed below). Students identify and underline the language that the prompt puts in focus. Then, in the discussion, the class grapples with the meaning and its relationship to the central/compelling question for the investigation.

Each bookmark question focuses students on meanings relevant to the particular source type.

1. What people and institutions are actors in the source? What is the relationship between those people and institutions?

This question, often asked about laws and other documents, focuses students on the social and/or historical actors in the text. They are represented in nouns that students can identify to recognize the relevant social actors and think about the relationships between them.

Point out to students that they need to identify and underline the people and institutions and see what the text says about what they are doing or what they are responsible for. Remind them that they also need to consider when pronouns (we, I, you, he, she, they) take the place of the people and institutions, or when synonyms are used to refer to them.

For example, in reading Laws of Hammurabi (Source 1 in investigation 6.1), students are asked to use question 1. In the Prologue they read:

"…at that time, the gods Anu and Enlil, for the well-being of the people, named me by my name: Hammurabi, the holy prince, …"

Students underline people in the text: the gods Anu and Enlil, the people, me, and Hammurabi, the holy prince

Discussion can bring out that the source (written by Hammurabi), says the gods named Hammurabi and the did that for the well-being of the people. This establishes his authority.

In reading the Laws, students also identify the people and their relationships. For example:

"If a man accuses another man and charges him with murder but cannot bring proof against him, his accuser shall be killed."

Students underline a man, another man, him and his accuser. They’ll have to consider who him refers to and who his accuser refers to. That will help them discuss what the law says.

2. What parts of the source tell you what the author thinks, wants, or experiences?

This question, often asked about narrative or journalistic texts, focuses students on the thinking, feeling, and doing of the social actors in the text or of the author of the text, and helps them think about the different perspectives of the historical and social actors. Ask the students to find the verbs that present thinking, feeling, and doing to explore places in the text that tell about the social actors’ experiences or perspectives.

For example, in reading Juan de Santacruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamaygua (Source 2 in investigation 6.3), students are asked to use Question 2. The source begins:

"I am a believer in the holy Catholic faith. I have heard the stories and cruelties of the godless times, since I was a child."

Students underline I have heard and discuss what the author is telling them about what he has learned about what happened before the Spanish conquest (the “godless times” refers to the Inca Empire, which students will already have talked about in annotating the Headnote for the source).

Then, as they read the next paragraph of the source, they will read the story Salcamaygua tells. It begins:

"Pachacuti Inca Emperor conquered all the land and invaded several provinces. Pachacuti Inca was pleased at the peaceful submission of these people …"

As they read, students see that Pachacuti Inca was pleased tells them about something that a person in the text felt. Moving through the text this way and identifying the thinking, feeling, and experiencing of people in the text helps students focus on the various perspectives that are offered.

3. Find sentences that begin with transition words or introductory phrases. What key ideas come after transition words or introductory phrases?

This question is typically asked about informational texts and texts that present arguments. What we mean here by transition words or introductory phrases may be somewhat different from how you usually use these terms.  We're asking students to find sentences that do not begin with a subject; where any kind of introductory words/phrases precede the subject of the sentence. Point out to students that they can often see how the information in a text flows from sentence to sentence by identifying when an author starts a sentence with something other than the subject.

For example, in reading Mexico City’s Water Crisis (Source 3 in investigation 6.4), students are asked to use question 3. They read:

"Water pressure matches income levels: both go down the further you get from Cutzamala. In the wealthy western neighborhoods of Miguel Hidalgo and Cuajimalpa, where most of the city’s golf courses are, water pressure is high enough for lawn sprinklers. Closer to the center, in the commercial districts of Polanco and Benito Juárez, the upper- and middle-classes have to get by with less than half that pressure, and they face occasional shortages. …"

Students identify In the wealthy western neighborhoods and Closer to the center as introductory phrases, and underline the information that water pressure is high enough for lawn sprinklers in the first case, and the upper- and middle-classes have to get by with less than half that pressure in the second case. Discussion can help students see that these two sentences are examples of what the author says in the first sentence of the text, that Water pressure matches income levels. The point is that what students underline helps them get at the core meaning of a text and talk about how the information in the text relates to the compelling question for the investigation: Why is access to water unequal in and around Mexico City? Understanding which neighborhoods have water pressure is a main point to get from the text in order to make a claim about the answer to this question.

4. What parts of the source seem most important for understanding?

This bookmark question is typically asked about sources that offer visual or graphic representations.


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