Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reading Folders

Today was the fifth day of school! For the first few days, I worked with the students to find "just-right" books. Now that they have settled into their books, the next challenge is to get them thinking about what they read.

Yesterday, we made a chart to show all of the different kinds of thinking that readers can do as they read. (This is based on the "Reading Is Thinking" chart in Guiding Readers and Writers by Fountas and Pinnell.) Each student received a sticky note, and wrote one kind of thinking that they do while they read. Some students had some great ideas, like "making pictures in my mind", while others drew a blank. Still others knew important words, like "schema", but weren't sure of how to put this as a kind of thinking. Students shared their sticky notes and grouped similar ones together.

After we talked about all of the different kinds of thinking that they can do while they read, I introduced the simple chart we'll use to keep track of our thinking. Then, I showed them how they can do this. Finally, they returned to their own books to try writing down at least one example of how they think while they read.

In past years, I've been very encouraging on the first day, accepting almost every approximation. Today, though, I was a little choosier. One student wrote, "I am wondering what will happen next."

Ah, the stand-by reading response! This fuzzy response plagues me every year. Not today, I decided! But it takes some work to help a reader figure out how to make this more specific.

I said, "Let's try to make this a little more specific. Why are you wondering what happens next?"

The student rattled off a pretty detailed explanation of the events of the page, so I knew he was following the story. (He was reading the second book of The Sisters Grimm--his third grade teacher had read the first book the previous year.) I said, "You just told me that Jack and Sabrina are fighting. Can you put that into a specific question about what will happen next?"

He thought for a few moments, then said, "Well, Sabrina has a sword, and I wonder if she's going to use it in the fight."

Much more specific thinking! I said, "Think about how much more detail you added! This really shows your thinking as a reader."

As I start routines, I am always thinking, "What will this look like months down the road?" It's important to make sure that students aim for specific thinking, each and every day.

Of course, today wasn't all about the winning. As the temperature climbed, I asked one reader to tell me what he was thinking. He looked at me, sighed, and said, "I was thinking about if you would let me go stand in front of the fan."

Teaching reading in August is always an adventure!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences in the class. I love how you were able to stretch your student's thinking. We need to do that more often, instead of taking any answer.