159: During & After Reading Activities



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  1. Turn and Talk
    • Focus
      • Reading as Thinking
    • Description
      • Think Pair Share
      • Teacher pauses and gives students 1-2 minutes to discuss an issue in pairs
      • Gathers responses from the class
    • Why do this?
      • Draws out wait time so that all students have time to process question prior to gathering responses
      • Creates several learning processing breaks in lessons.  Also see writing breaks.
      • Great way to generate long lists of what students know or notice
    • How it works?
      • Model the strategy with a volunteer partner.  Discuss a topic suggested by a student for 1-2 minutes.  Ask students to share what they noticed.
        • Things to model:
          • good eye contact
          • facing each other
          • asking each other questions
          • staying on topic
          • listening to each other
          • building on each other’s comments
          • acting friendly
      • Make sure everyone is sitting next to their partner
      • Practice strategy with a short reading a several prepared prompts.
      • Fine-tune strategy by gathering strategies from students how to have good conversations and displaying these.  Can also research these conversational strategies by googling “turn and talk anchor charts”.
      • Repeat several times in class.  Be sure to gather responses after turn and talk time is done.
      • Monitor students while they are talking so you know who to call on to get a variety of interesting responses.
    • Variations
      • Use turn and talk time to give plus / della feedback on different pos-its and place these on the piece of work being assessed
    • Related Reading
  2. Word Meaning Graphic Organizer
    • Focus
      • Building academic vocabulary
    • Description
      • Students complete a graphic organizer in teams on a single vocabulary word
      • Graphic organizer has students record:
        • target word
        • topic where word is found
        • parts of word we recognize
        • examples
        • so the word means
        • why it’s important?
        • where is the word used?
        • How it connects with other words?
      • Different teams can work on different words and share their results in a gallery walk
    • Why do this?
      • learn word meaning through their connections with other words, ideas, concepts and information
      • gather all contextualized meanings for one word in one place
    • How it works?
      • Model how to complete the graphic organizer using think aloud.  Role play with a partner and use turn and talk before completing each box in the graphic organizer.  Emphasize that graphic organizer won’t be completed all at once.  It will take a couple discussions and readings to finish it.
      • Let students complete the graphic organizer (1 per team) – joint understandings may enable team to complete the entire graphic organizer
      • As students read, let them meet periodically to discuss what they read and add more information to the graphic organizer
      • Teams may handle 1 or more graphic organizers – depending on whether or not groups will share graphic organizers.
      • Put graphic organizers to work –
        • gallery walk
        • can use post-its to give peer feedback on graphic organizers
        • groups can compare graphic organizers to notice similarities and differences in what they annotated
  3. List-Group-Label
    • Focus
      • Building academic vocabulary
    • Description
      • Students are giving a list of vocabulary words and they cluster them into groups based on common characteristics.  Some words can appear in multiple categories
    • Why do this?
      • Learning meanings of words by seeing relationships (as opposed to in isolation)
    • How it works?
      • Give students working in team a long list of terms
      • Students group words and decide what to title groups
      • Can have students reread texts and see if better understanding of words improves understanding of the text
    • Variations
      • Display clusters on butcher paper around the room so they can be updated throughout the project
  4. Written Conversation
    • Focus
      • Sharing ideas, discussing, debating
    • Description
      • Students write notes to each about learning experiences
      • Also called write-arounds and dialogue journals
      • Can have students take and defend positions using evidence from the text
    • Why do this?
      • Class discussion where everyone is actively talking at once
    • How it works?
      • Students team up – up to 4 persons per team
      • Each student has a large piece of blank paper.
      • Describe the strategy – key points:
        • everyone is writing ALL the time – no one is watching while other write
        • write reactions to text (summaries, questions, surprising points, etc)
        • write reactions to other’s reactions to the text
      • Can provide question prompts to focus the writing or leave it open
      • Students start with an initial note to the persons on their team
      • After 1-2 minutes, papers rotate and students start writing a reaction to the note passed to them.
      • After rotations are done, have students circle  most interesting comments.  Then let them continue the conversation out loud.
      • Call on groups to share key comments.  Read aloud circles comments on papers.
    • Variations
      • Have students write notes while mimicking a specific person’s point of view (famous scientist, famous historical figure, etc)
  5. Second Helpings
    • Focus
      • Recalling and summarizing
    • Description
      • Students and teacher re-read a dense text multiple times
      • Make each rereading feel like a reward deep dive / dig
    • Why do this?
      • Dispel myth that readers who need to reread texts are “bad readers”; smart readers do this too with dense texts
      • Supplement understanding that’s gathered from a quick first read
    • How it works?
      • Go through first read of text and annotate to get gist of the information in the text
      • Reread the text with the help of prompt that reframes this second helping of the text.
        • Science example – reread to help you draw the process and make it a diagram
    • Variation:
      • Example – on orbital motion
        • read once for main ideas
        • second helping – read for information that can help you create visuals for orbital motion
        • third helping – read for information that can help you invent a device to deflect comets
    • Related Reading
Using a variety of strategy to process information in texts can help students actively process texts and better learn the information in these.   Any of the strategies listed above can support students while they learn new concepts and vocabulary in the context of active reading.


Preparation Steps
  • Select readings that will students learn key information in upcoming projects.
  • Decide which strategies will help students most effectively process the targeted texts.
  • Gather materials related to the strategies.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement active processing strategy.  See instructions above.
  • Have students reflect on how strategy is helping them learn new information.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Incorporate students’ favorite processing activities into classroom routines.
  • Combine reading activities with Quick Writes or Write to Learn activities.



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