…With a Pen in My Hand

Play With Your Words Writing PromptsThis week we are working on reading strategies–circling keywords, marking the text, and writing in the margins.

As the students and I discussed why these strategies are useful, I realized, it’s not just writer’s who think better with a pen in their hands, but anyone who reads, seeking to understand.

So much for my theory that thinking best with pen in hand is one of the qualities that make me a writer. I am humbled. I am human. I am in good company!

Advertisements

Thinking About Thinking

School houseWhat is this? It’s the first week of summer vacation, and my graphic is a little schoolhouse?

Yep. Today I attended a professional development class teaching the Avid program’s strategies for critical reading. It was a worthwhile investment of seven hours, and I actually look forward to going back tomorrow.

Was there anything new and revolutionary in the instructional strategies introduced today? Not really. I have encountered various pieces of the mosaic in other contexts, in on-the-job professional development classes like Student Owned Strategies for Reading, in my own reading–Jim Burke’s Reading Reminders is still one of my favorite resources, in articles from the various National Council of Teachers of English publications, and even tips from my mentor teacher when I earned my MAT and teaching license over ten years ago.

Did I mind that every idea was not new and fresh? Not really. In our setting we had teachers teaching teachers. Each time a different person presents an idea or piece of information you get a unique new spin on it simply because each individual instructor is unique. Also, this information was presented in the context of a classroom of about forty middle and high school teachers, and plenty of opportunity was provided for talk.

I think the most important issue discussed by the end of the day was the question of thinking. How do we encourage our students to think? How do we show them we value thinking over the simple regurgitation of  “correct” answers. How do we convince them that there are some questions for which there is no academically right or wrong answer and that its okay to pick sides and take a stance? How do we help them value the time it takes to read actively and formulate an understanding for the material read? And how do we make time for them to do this in our classrooms?

These were big questions for teachers whose students have to take content-area, standardized, multiple-choice tests. And they are important questions.

As a Language Arts teacher, I felt blessed that critical reading, active thinking, and clear communication are actually the mission of my subject area. I value my students’ thinking, and am humbled by the openness with which they share their inner selves.

What do you think? How do you communicate the value you place on thinking, and how do you provide opportunities for your students to practice it?

A Quick Comprehension Check: Reading Response Exercise #106

Read

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Reflect & Write

Think about what you have read, and answer the following questions:

  • What happened in today’s reading?
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • Based on what you have read so far, would you recommend this book to others? Why or why not?

Discuss

Share your responses with your reading partners, or share your response as a comment here on the blog. Remember to mention the title and author of your novel. That way, readers intrigued by your response can check out the book for themselves.

Happy Reading!

Reading Response Exercise #105: What Do You Think?

 

Read

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Reflect

Think about what you have read.

  • What was interesting in this reading?
  • What might have been boring?
  • What do you wish the author might have included before moving on in the story?
  • Explain why you feel the way you do.

Write/Discuss

Share your responses with your reading partners, or share your response as a comment here on the blog. If commenting here, please mention the title and author of your novel. That way, readers intrigued by your response can check out the book for themselves.

Happy Reading!

Bubble, Bubble, Toil, and Trouble: Characterization Reading Response Exercise #104

Read

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Reflect

Choose a character from the passages you have read and job down a few words that you would use to describe him or her. Consider some of the weaknesses of his or her personality.

Write/Discuss

Predict  how you think this character could end up getting him or herself into trouble.  Include your reasons for  thinking this.. Write your ideas down or discuss with your reading partners

Share your response as a comment here on the blog, and mention the title and author of your novel. That way, readers intrigued by your response can check out the book for themselves.

Happy Reading!

Plot a Timeline: Reading Response Exercise #96

Read:

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Reflect and Create:

  • Think about what you have read.
  • Make a timeline of the passages you have just read.
  • Create symbolic “icons” for five of the events in this passage
  • Place the icons on the timeline accompanying the mark for the event they represent.

Share:

  • Show your timelines to your reading partners.
  • Discuss the icons and the events they represent. How effectively was each icon in reflecting each event?

Post your timelines as a comment. I’d love to see them. Remember to label them with the title and author of the book you’ve read. You might inspire someone else to give the book a try.

Character Beach Towel: Reading Response Exercise #95

Read

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Reflect

Think about what you have read. What is the main character of your story like? What are his likes and dislikes? What are his favorite activities, things?

Suppose the main character of your story finally got a break from all that’s stressing her and she’s headed off to the beach, taking the brand new beach towel someone who knows and loves her well just gave her.

Write

Design, draw including graphics and color, or describe your main character’s great new beach towel. Why is it so perfect for him or her?

Discuss

Share your responses and explanations with your reading partners.

Post your pictures or descriptions here on the blog. Remember to include the title and author of your book so another reader can give it a try.

Test that Title: Reading Response Exercise #93

Read

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Reflect/Write

Think about what you have read.

  • What is the title of the book you are reading?
  • Do the plot, characters, and themes of the story seem to go well with its title?
  • Why or why not?

Discuss

Share your responses with your reading partners or here on the blog. If you like your book, share the title and author with your fellow readers. Someone might just be looking for a good read for a summer’s afternoon.

Similar Situations: Reading Response Exercise #92

Read

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Reflect

Think about what you have read. Answer the following questions:

  • Have you ever been in a situation like that being experienced by the main character of your story?
  • What was the situation?
  • How did you feel?
  • What did you do in response?

Considering your own experiences, how would you advise the character in your story to respond to the situation you last encountered him or her in?

Write/Discuss

Write down the advice you would give your main character. Are there any special warnings he or she might need, or any recommendations about how to apply your advice? Share your responses with your reading partners or post them here to the blog.

Summer is a great time for reading, so if you share your response as a comment, please include the title of the book you are reading and the author’s name. I, or any of the Literate Live’s followers, might just want to hunt that book down and read it ourselves based on your sharing.

Happy thinking and reading!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Reading Response Exercise #89

Read

Read for at least twenty to thirty minutes.

Reflect

Think about what you have read. What changes have occurred in the plot between where you began reading and where you ended?

Write/Discuss

Share your responses with your reading partners.

Preschool Literacy

Read

Enjoy a picture book with your preschooler.

Ask

When you’ve finished, ask him or her what has changed in the story between the beginning and the end.

Discuss

Enjoy a pleasant book talk with your preschooler.