Frequently Asked Questions

What is Text2Reader?

Text2Reader is a monthly standalone resource for grades 6-8 English Language Arts teachers and is available by subscription. Text2Reader is teacher-created and addresses most middle school English Language Arts learning outcomes throughout the course of the year—in some cases over and over between the issues.

Text2Reader is a supplementary resource—one that supports you in your goals of teaching students to love reading, to understand a variety of texts, to think critically and personally about the texts they encounter, and to make meaning by listening, speaking and writing about what they’re reading. It complements your ongoing Language Arts program. And it's great to know you can lean on Text2Reader to cover virtually every core outcome!

Text2Reader is for you, the teacher, with the aim of engaging your students deeply in the works—and words—they read.

How does Text2Reader arrive at my school?

Text2Reader is available as an electronic PDF on this website. Each month, you will be able to access the current issue, all past issues and any additional content developed just for you. Want a print version? We can do that too. A hard-copy-mailout subscription costs $225 annually.

When is Text2Reader published?

T2R is published 8 times a year—September, October, November, January, February, March, April and May. As December and June are short months, we do not publish in those months.

How do I use it in my classroom?

Text2Reader arrives ready to be used: you don't have to consult a gigantic unit guide or plan an entire unit around reaching a particular set of outcomes. Text2Reader does it for you. Each section ofText2Reader can stand alone; you can pick and choose parts of the program or use the whole package in its entirety. Need to cover perspective for first block tomorrow morning? You can pull just the section dealing with that and have it ready to go when students arrive. Need a homework assignment on persuasive writing? T2R has that too.

Can I share Text2Reader with other teachers in my school?

Yes you can! You only need buy one school-wide subscription Text2Reader and then can share it as widely as you like. Print it. Photocopy it. Post it on your school’s server for all ELA teachers to use.

There are many ways you can share Text2Reader. Once you have downloaded an issue of Text2Reader, you can print it and distribute it throughout your school, or you can upload the document to your school's server for all teachers to use. To share access to the additional materials and resources found on www.Text2Reader.com, just provide other teachers with your user name and password.

Will it work with my middle-school students?

Yes. Text2Reader is written with ELA students in grades 6-8 in mind. The text selections are all chosen from best-selling books for middle-school readers and are sure to engage and inspire. And as we offer a full money-back guarantee, there is no risk.

Does T2R make any provisions for differentiated learning?

Nearly all of the assignments and activities in Text2Reader can be easily adapted to suit the levels your students need. Text2Reader is designed to appeal to students' natural desire to engage in meaningful tasks, which is a key component in differentiated instruction. We engage your students in authentic activities where they get to apply their reading, writing and speaking skills to real-world activities: debating current topics that matter to them; writing resumes; setting personal goals; creating visual media and much more - both independently and in groups. Authentic learning experiences are the cornerstone for differentiated instruction.

Although we suggest groupings and assessments for assignments, these are by no means prescriptive. Assignments, activities and expectations can be adjusted in order to accommodate your struggling (or soaring) students. Have a below-level reader? Set her up with a partner as she works through the fiction selection; the peer-to-peer teaching as they move through the reading and questions together will benefit both of them. Got a true keener on your hands? Task him to adjust a rubric so it's more comprehensive—or have him gather up some research on one of the issues that catches his attention and create a mini presentation on the SMARTBoard. Sky's the limit!

I want to teach students how to read. Is Text2Reader for me?

Text2Reader isn't really a reading "strategies" document in that we're not using it to teach kids how to read. We do not, for example, provide instruction in decoding, or guiding students to use semantic and syntactic cues to help them understand the text (although a teacher could easily do that himself if he wishes). But we do structure the document so that students are constantly employing the key strategies of predicting, monitoring, confirming, reflecting and elaborating as they read and respond to the texts.

Text2Reader assumes these students have the ability to read the selections provided and then we use the assignments to get them to think more deeply about the text. Through the exercises, students: explore the meaning behind the text; make connections between it and their own worlds; reflect on it by writing about it or responding to it; use it as a jumping-off point for discussions, deeper explorations (such as debating issues related to the content) and small research projects (sometimes in the format of a webquest). We try to ensure a good balance between oral language, writing and reading with each issue.

We can say that T2R covers most, if not all, of the widely-accepted reading outcomes from grades six to eight. For example, the September 2011 (first) issue offers literary, informational and visual texts; it encourages students to access prior information before reading; it asks that they use strategies like inferring, predicting, visualizing, using text features and summarizing while they read (all of which are useful in monitoring and confirming meaning); and it gets students asking questions, making judgments and expressing opinions.

In the October 2011 issue, there's an emphasis on metacognitive strategies, where we ask students to think about themselves as readers and writers, and ask them to reflect on their strengths and select areas for improvement.

All of these are skills and strategies that developing readers employ—and all of these are, in one form or another, featured in the various curricula across North America. These widely-accepted outcomes form our primary guide in creating the resource. Text2Reader hits on all, or nearly all, of them in every issue. So, while it's not a resource that "teaches children to read" per se, kids are learning to be better readers (and writers) by reading the selections and working their way through the assignments.

There are about a dozen key prescribed learning outcomes we touch on in every issue. Most curricula break reading into anywhere from ten to fifteen of these general organizers; we design each issue of T2R to cover off a majority of those. So that means over the course of eight issues, or a full year's subscription, we will be designing activities around each major curriculum outcome a minimum of four times.

Are the Text2Reader excerpts and lessons suitable for grades 6 through 8?

All of the reading selections in Text2Reader are chosen to be within the interest level and reading range of students in the middle school grades. Similar to other popular selections at the middle school level (e.g. The Giver, Holes, Island of the Blue Dolphins), the reading passages are not graded per se.

The fiction selections come from our popular Orca Soundings and Orca Currents series; both of which are written to be accessible to both developing and advanced readers alike.

Similarly, the nonfiction and graphic novel selections are geared toward readers ages ten and up, with an interest level that spans late elementary through middle school and beyond.

The assignments can be used as they are, as they are explicitly created to be usable across the three grade ranges. That being said, each assignment can easily be modified by the teacher in terms of length and depth. We have connected each assignment with well-known general ELA outcomes; you can tailor them to more closely reflect the specific learning outcomes at your grade level, should you wish.

Ok. I like the idea. How do I get Text2Reader? And what does it cost?

You can order T2R directly from the this website or by calling Orca Book Publishers at 1-800-210-5277 or by emailing us at text2reader@orcabook.com. A full-year, whole-school subscription, delivered electronically costs just $175. If you prefer to have a hard copy edition of Text2Reader mailed to your school, we can do that for $225 annually.

Why does T2R sometimes ask students to make specific text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world connections, but then at other times provide much less structure with making connections?

In Comprehension Shouldn't Be Silent: From Strategy Instruction to Student Independence (2007, International Reading Association), authors Michelle Kelley and Nicki Clausen-Grace note that while teaching about connections "is the perfect gateway to metacognitive awareness. Students too easily become focused on the type of connection—text-to-self, text-to-text, or text-to-world—and not on how that connection helps them better comprehend. For instance, there may be a student who is compelled to tell you that she has been to New York and her book mentions New York, even though the text is not set in New York and knowing about New York does not assist the reader in better understanding the story.

Why do you have short answer and multiple choice questions for the fiction selection?

Contentious issue. Some teachers despise multiple choice questions, feeling that they limit their students' ability to express their own understanding of a reading selection. We hear that. But we also understand that—for better of for worse—we live in a world of standardized testing. And it's only fair that we give students a shot at practicing the kinds of questions that they'll encounter on these kinds of tests. You can use them any way you like&mdashlas a formal assessment, or as a teaching tool for reflecting on and discussing the nature of multiple choice questions—or not at all. Up to you. Our job is to give you the tools.