After my post last week about ways we can engage our students, I wanted to follow up and give some ideas on activities we can do during reading in lieu of using worksheets all the time. If you caught my FB Live then you know that I don’t think worksheets are ALWAYS terrible. Here’s my opinion:
- They should be used in moderation.
- My students should be seeing the skill addressed in many other formats as well… did we discuss, use manipulatives, write about it, play games, practice… or am I just giving a worksheet and hoping they get it?
- We do not differentiate with one worksheet. Cutting a worksheet in half is not differentiation. That is a modification. If the students are just completing a different amount of questions or problems of the SAME caliber, there is zero differentiation going on.
- There is a time and a place for worksheets. Sometimes we need to drill and assess. We just don’t want to waste our precious instruction time every single day answering 40 questions when we can show mastery answering 5 of the same type of questions.
- A worksheet is a worksheet is a worksheet. While it’s not terrible to do them every once in a while, they just aren’t always best for our students. There are so many other things we can do in class that will meet all of our students where they are. We have visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learners in our classroom that need more than just worksheets all day.
So, keeping those things in mind, let’s check out some activities that we can use that will engage our students during reading.
Index cards are a CHEAP way to respond to reading. You can write on them, fold them in half, or use them for drawing pictures. Use them for sequencing events, summarizing, or writing short stories. They are the perfect little thing to use instead of paper every once in a while! Colored index cards make things even more fun!
Just like index cards, sticky notes are CHEAP and we normally have them in excess! Sticky notes are great for brainstorming because we can move them around on anchor charts and on assignments. For some reason, students get super excited about sticky notes! If you use different colors, it helps students organize information and create categories.
I love keeping spirals for different subjects because we can always pull them out to respond to our text. Keeping things in spirals helps me to quickly check the work of my students. Students can respond to a prompt about the story, give their opinion, make predictions, sequence events, write about characters, and so much more! The possibilities with spirals are endless and you don’t need to make any copies!
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… I love a good craft. I love bright paper. I love cute eyes. I just love it all. My students have always loved making something that goes along with what we are reading in class. It helps to make a connection, get them excited about the book, and it gives them something to discuss with their parents! We can write about the story, characters, problem/solution, structure, and connections we made. I also like to use crafts to display the skills we have been working on like you see on the tree. That was a simple way to organize our main idea and details for the day!
I think anchor charts are so powerful. Since we make them as a class, the students are much more invested in them than they are a pre-made chart. We have brainstormed lots of words together, so they know where to look if they need ideas or the spelling of a particular word. I also like to make charts where my students are the illustrators. They just love looking at each other’s pictures. Charts are a HUGE focus of Rooted in Reading. It’s just an easy and effective way to hold a class discussion!
Interactive Notebooks are also a big part of Rooted in Reading. More than anything, they help us go deeper with the text. We aren’t just reading and forgetting about what we read, we are responding to the quotes, structure, characters, and our connections. These notebook entries help me stay on track as a teacher and take things to a deeper level. They also provide my students with an opportunity to think for themselves because they are writing based on how they interpreted a text.
I just think that flapbooks are a great way to organize information. We can compare, write facts, show text evidence, practice vocabulary, describe characters, sequence events and much more!
Katie and I wanted to provide printables that could be used with any book (not just rooted in reading). Sometimes you just need an organized space for your students to write on. These are NOT worksheets because the students are not just filling in blanks or circling answers. These printables help us to stay on track, work on a specific comprehension skill, and organize our writing in different ways. I do still think they should be used in moderation, but if used correctly they can definitely promote higher level thinking!
Of course responding to reading with drawing is one of my favorites. Whether we are doing a directed drawing or a personalized drawing, I just love kid art. We draw characters, authors, animals, the setting, and anything else we can think of. Normally we add something to our drawings like character traits, a writing piece, labeling, or a summary.
When we are reading chapter books, a lot of the times I will provide mini-booklets for my students to respond with. We may write a little about each chapter, or focus on a certain comprehension skill for the day. I also like using tri-fold booklets to organize the thoughts of students. We may use them for book reports, to display information, or to discuss the different parts of a story. Either way, booklets are great because they contain our learning for the week and I don’t have to make a bajillion copies or pass out a ton of papers!
I hope that you found some ideas to incorporate different types of activities into your reading instruction. There are probably 100 more ways to tackle reading in the classroom, but these were some of my favorites! I think as long as you are changing things up, trying new ideas, and incorporating different types of activities then you are golden!