by Dr. Keith Polette
Who’s Telling the Truth? includes 35 scripts that can easily be enacted in the classroom. Each script requires four readers: a host and three readers (persons from American history) all claiming to be the same person. The host asks each of the persons the same question. Based on the answers that each person gives, the students in the class must decide which one of the three is telling the truth; that is, which person is actually the person he or she is claiming to be.
The preamble to the Common Core Standards addresses the importance of
- attentive reading
- critical reading
- cogent reasoning and use of evidence
Students who meet the Standards develop the skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening that are the foundation for any creative and purposeful expression in language.
The scripts and activities in Who’s Telling the Truth? enable students to use a multifaceted approach to develop the kinds of critical reading skills necessary for constructing meaning as they research historical persons in informational texts.
Students use fluent and flexible thinking to make thoughtful predictions prior to reading the scripts and then use close observation skills to search for specific information as they read. Scripts require students to engage in “close, attentive reading.” They will need to slow down in order to question and evaluate each piece of data they encounter.
As students read each script, they must identify, analyze, and evaluate each statement made by each of the three “historical” readers. Students use analytical skills to determine if the information is relevant to discover which speaker is telling the truth. These processes are the essence of critical reading.
The goal of Who’s Telling the Truth? is not for students to arrive at what they know, but at what they think they know. Moreover, it is also important for students to give voice to how they arrived at what they think they know.