Nearly every day, my students have independent time built into our reader’s workshop. During this time I am meeting with small groups and trying to work with at least two to three students individually. While I would love to conference or even converse with each student about their independent reading book, time just doesn’t allow for this on a daily basis. However, having them respond to their reading in writing provides a window into their thinking and understanding. A few weeks ago I shared my reading response forms and graphic organizers for independent reading, which are an integral part of my reading program. There are some days, however, when there is only time available for a short response. This week I’d like to share with you how I get my kids thinking about their reading and sharing their thoughts in five minutes or less.
My class uses Kidblog to share their thoughts and feelings about books. While my students love to “blog” in response to their own independent reading books, they especially enjoy commenting on our class read-alouds. I will often begin a thread by posing a question or comment of my own, and the students soon take over. Because read-alouds provide us with a common text and experience, students not only leave their own thoughts, but become fully immersed in the process, replying to the comments of others. My 3rd graders can hardly wait to see if anyone has commented on their posts, making this five-minute reading response one of the most engaging we do.
If you have wanted to try blogging with your class, Kidblog may be a good place to start. It is very easy to set up and the teacher gets to approve all comments before they are posted.
The images above show blog threads that my students have started along with a few of their responses to a question I posted about our current read-aloud book, Wayside School Is Falling Down. Within ten minutes, there were 54 comments posted by the class!
Third grade bloggers hard at work!
My 3rd graders are very aware of social media and love to partake in this classroom version. When we “tweet” about our reading, it needs to be a thought about their book stated in 30 words or less. I normally help guide them with prompts such as What are you thinking or wondering about your book right now? or How has one of the characters changed since you started reading? Many students also enjoy adding their own hashtags related to the title of the book or the theme of their tweet.
For years I have used a tic-tac-toe board as a way to give students a choice with their weekly spelling/word study words, so I decided to apply the same concept to reading response. On days when students are doing a “shorty” response, as they call it, they can choose an open square on the tic-tac-toe board and respond to it on a page in their reading binder. Part of the fun is trying to achieve a tic-tac-toe, but students are actually answering prompts that are within, about, and beyond the text.
Click on the images above to download a customizable tic-tac-toe board and the reading response paper my students use to respond.
This “countdown” response focuses on the basics. Using this half-page sheet, students provide information about their reading, touching on summarizing, sequencing, vocabulary skills, and the asking questions/wondering comprehension strategy we work on in reading. Click the image below to download the 3, 2, 1.
By this time of year, my 3rd graders are becoming much more sophisticated readers; they are beginning to recognize that characters and plots evolve as the story progresses. This At First I Thought . . . response allows them to share how their thinking about a character or story line has changed during reading. I’ve had students fill this response out without its even being assigned because they’ve had a sudden epiphany while reading that they want to put down in words.
Scholastic is a treasure trove of reading response graphic organizers and reading response ideas. Visit Printables and Teacher Express to check out the huge variety of response helpers. Below you will find just a few that I like. Click on the image to download the free printable.
These short reading responses give me a snapshot of my students’ thoughts and comprehension on the days I can’t meet with them. When I respond to their writing, I think of it as a form of written conversation between us. Because of this, I only write positive comments about what they have done well or a great insight they have had, which hopefully motivates and engages them further. While reading their responses, I, of course, take note of misunderstandings students may have, or any redirection they may need, and I save those conversations for when we meet face to face.