Saturday, December 8, 2012

Reading and Thinking! Making the Students "Work" the Text

Is is Christmas break, yet? My team and I just received the best news! We have been approved to get a new teacher, so we will be able to reduce our class sizes from 27 to 21! I know that a lot of you have high numbers all the time, but the school I teach at really needs lower numbers. Just think inner city, half the students reading on 3rd grade or below, only 2 kids passing state test...yikes! We need those lower numbers to meet their needs! So this was a great gift!

Now, I really want to share some awesome strategies that have really been improving my students' reading levels. I had one student go from a P to an R and another go from a Q to an S in only four months! That is a huge accomplishment for them and I could not have been prouder. What improved their levels? Teaching them to "work" the text. Text being anything they are reading, an independent reading book, directions, a passage on a test.
I teach my students a new strategy a week (sometimes every other week) that they must implement while they are reading independently. We also practice this strategy in guided reading. I started this after getting tired of having students read and them not being able to tell me a thing they had read. I did modeled think alouds and direct instruction on how to think while you are reading, but it was still not working. So, now the students have to put their thoughts down on paper! This forces them to think! And it is working! I love looking out at my kids while they are reading and seeing a book in one hand and a pencil in the other. Makes my teacher heart happy! No more kids daydreaming while reading or only flipping the pages. They are reading, thinking, and writing!

This week I had an AHA moment when it came to my strategies. I have taught them so many strategies and this week we took a week off from a new strategy and I told the students to use the strategy from last week. One of my kids said, "This book really works for cause and effect, can I do that strategy." Oh my goodness! YES YES YES, you can! So all this week, the students chose the strategy they wanted to use and whichever one helped them understand the text. This was an eye opener for me! If I want them to take ownership in the strategy, I need to give them choices!
Here are some examples straight from my students and I chose the first three different strategies I found. I didn't choose the best of the best, I chose a real sample of all my students work. You will find the student work and a brief explanation of the strategy.
 This is just one way that I try hold my students accountable for their thinking while reading. How do you help your students think about the text they are reading?


  1. I love this idea. Congrats on a successful week and exciting news. I teach 3rd grade in NYC and just found out that I will have 2 new kids next week. That brings us to 30!!!! I would LOVE if they opened a new class.

    Thanks for the great ideas.

    Drowning in Paperclips

  2. Thanks for posting. How exciting that you get another teacher. We have 28 per classroom, and that isn't changing any time soon. Though we did get a new teacher mid year about 5 years ago. It will be a challenge for them! But what a good team mate to have!
    Do you use readers workshop or just guided reading?
    My district has recently pretty much let guided reading go, so we can fully utilize conferring.


  3. Emily,

    We do both, and Daily Three mixed in there as well. I start my Reader's Workshop with a 15-20 minute mini lesson, then we do three rotations of Guided Reading where the students are during Write about Reading, Read to Self, and sometimes Word Work.

    So do you use a basal or textbook from to teach reading?


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  5. I love this idea too! Thanks for sharing. I think it would be a great idea when I formally start teaching in school. I love the idea of teaching English through Literature.
    Thanks a lot.

    1. Hi Derly, I love teaching strategies and skills through the students independent reading books!

      Good luck on getting your first teaching job!


  6. I just came across this and love it!! I would love to hear more of the reading strategies that you teach!

  7. I would also love to hear about which strategies you teach!

  8. I would also love to hear about which strategies you teach!

  9. I would also love to hear about which strategies you teach!


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