Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writing About Reading to Push Thinking

One of the greatest challenges I have encountered during reader's workshop is getting students to write about their reading. The argument my students give me continuously is "we love to read... we don't want to stop." I realize this is not necessarily a bad problem to have. A goal of reader's workshop is to create a classroom environment of voracious readers. At the same time, it is important for students to see how reading and writing go hand-in-hand. There is a big difference between just reading and reading to push your thinking. My students have the just reading aspect mastered. It's the latter that needs work.

I kicked off this part of our "Taking Charge of our Reading Lives" unit by brainstorming the differences between the two kinds of reading. Without prompting, the first suggestion students gave for what Reading to Push our Thinking looks like was using the reader's notebook and tracking our thoughts. The challenge, however, is that students don't always know what to write unless given a specific prompt. My argument against that is the fact that I want them to take charge and write about their reading on a regular basis, without being told to. I found a middle ground: Thinking Menus. These menus, which can be glued right into their notebooks, offer suggestions of things to write about, all of which will encourage them to push their thinking.

<-- Here is an example of the one I am using during our historical fiction book clubs.

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