160: After Reading Activities




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  1. Where do you stand?
    • Focus
      • Taking and supporting a position
    • Description
      • Also called: Four Corners, Human Continuum, Living Likert Scale, Barometer, Human Bar graph, Peoplegraph
      • Students represent their opinion by where they stand in the room
      • Facilitate conversations with students who share and do not share the same opinion
    • Why do this?
      • Students practice:
        • offering interpretations of text
        • backing conclusions with evidence from text
        • debating view points in a social, kinesthetic activity
    • How it works?
      • After some reading, ask students to evaluate what they think using a question framed like: Based on all you have read about _________________, where do you stand?  Label different parts of the room for different opinions.
      • Give students time to review their notes and decide their opinions.  Let students know that they will use textual evidence to back their opinions once they pick a stance
      • Students take a stance.  They use their notes to explain to a partner who shared their stance what reasoning and evidence they used to come to that stance.
      • Ask several pairs to explain their positions to the entire class.
      • Fold the line in the middle such that students at extreme ends are now paired.  Prior to letting students debate their position, over guidelines for their debate conversations.  For example – students can take turns saying opening arguments and rebuttals.
      • Ask if any students have changed their positions as a result of debate with classmate.  Have him explain why/how opinion changed.  Have him move to new spot in room that represents new opinion.
      • Ask some pairs to describe how their debate unfolded and what types of evidence they would need to gather for a stronger future debate.
    • Variations
      • Have students stand in 4 corners of the room to represent different opinions
      • Students can arrange themselves in a pie chart or a bar chart.
      • Key thing is to plan conversations among students who agree and disagree ahead of time.
    • Related Reading
  2. RAFT essay
    • Focus
      • Recalling and summarizing
    • Description
      • Extended writing activity:  topic is assigned, students can choose RAFT items
        • R = role of writer
        • A = audience of writer
        • F = format of writing piece (letter, news article, poem, brochure, etc.)
        • T = more specific topic within the material
      • Can offer students content-specific choices for RAFT options
    • Why do this?
      • Students can dig deeper into content
      • Memorable activity that helps cement key ideas into minds
      • Students respond well to creative choice in their assignments
      • Good for highlighting several key ideas in a course
    • How it works?
      • Develop lists of options for each letter in RAFT.  Can research these ahead of time and/or brainstorm them with students.
      • Use think aloud and co-writing with class to model how to get started on sample RAFT assignment.  See Joint construction.
      • Allow for in class writing times and individual coaching sessions.  See Writing Workshops for ideas on what this could look like.
      • Share the writing online and in class.  Allow students to read aloud their essays to small or large groups in order to exchange ideas.
    • Variations
      • CRAFTS
        • C = Contexts
        • R = Role of writer
        • A = Audience
        • F = Format of text
        • T = Themes of text – rather than just address a broad topic, students make a claim about the topic
        • S = Structure of text – this deals with how ideas are organized in text
      • Students write context piece – use voice of chosen personalities to tell stories about them.
      • Represent more perspectives with other CRAFTS pieces.
      • Students read and digest 100+ pages of nonfiction materials while creating CRAFTS pieces.
    • Related Reading
  3. Password
    • Focus
      • Building Academic Vocabulary
    • Description
      • Students play Password game show to review vocabulary
    • Why do this?
      • Review content-specific vocabulary
    • How it works?
      • Students make a list of vocabulary words recently studied on chart paper
      • One student sits with back to list.  Team mates offer clues to help seated student guess the words on the list.
      • Teams take turns helping their player guess the words.  The team that can get their guessing player to guess all the words the fastest wins.
  4. Tweet the Text
    • Focus
      • Reading and summarizing
    • Description
      • Students work in pairs to craft 140-character summaries of key concepts in the text
    • Why do this?
      • Co-opt students’ texting / tweeting habit
      • Practice synthesizing texts into concise statements
    • How it works?
      • Assign a short selection of content-specific text
      • Students talk aloud in pairs to develop a tweet to summarize the text.  Can post on Twitter if school allows.
      • Discuss different summaries
      • Compose über tweet – one that has the most summary info
    • Variations
      • Use a short hashtag so it’s easy to find all tweets such #sum
    • Related Reading
  5. Exit and Admit Slips (Also see Minute Paper)
    • Focus
      • Reading and summarizing
    • Description
      • On post-it or small slips of paper, student respond to one or more of the following prompts:
        • one important idea learned
        • question
        • prediction of what’s to come next
        • thought about a character or idea in the text
      • Students can discuss their tickets in pairs and then as a whole group.
      • Teachers can affinity group their responses to notice patterns in what students understand and what they want more information about.
    • Why do this?
      • Short writing assignment that builds a bridge between learning activities that occur on successive days
      • Creates focus at the start or end of class
      • Teachers get a snapshot of what students are thinking that can inform future discussions and lessons
    • How it works?
      • Model how to perform activity using think aloud.  Stress how it’s OK to make struggles with learning the focal points of exit/admit slips.
      • Give students 2-3 min at the start or end of class to complete slips.  Can use sentence stems such as:
        • One thing I learned is ________
        • One question I have is _______
      • Now pass paper 3 spots in one direction.  Read slip carefully.  On the back of the slip, write a response to the original responses.
      • Can call on students to share their original responses and other students’ responses and tie these reactions back to the assigned text(s).
      • Don’t make these a grading burden.  Best to quick glance at them to notice overall patterns in what students are thinking and questioning.
    • Variations
      • Can use a provocative statement from one of the slips to start a class discussion


These activities help students process texts in different ways.  They can use these strategies to practice developing conclusions that are backed by textual evidence, using reading to develop writing pieces that represent different perspectives, reviewing vocabulary, summarizing key ideas, and asking related questions of the texts.  Using these activities can teach students how to read more deeply and to process texts in ways that are close to methods using by experts in the discipline.


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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