Reading response ideas for your classroom are easier to find than you may think. Reading response is a key component to any reading program, and you want to make it easy to teach and practice this skill. All students should be able to think critically about the content they are reading and then to either write about or discuss their reading as part of a response.
I have 5 great tips to help you teach your students the invaluable skill of reading response.
- Read alouds are great for instruction.
- Use read aloud text as a model for response to reading.
- Class discussions hold powerful reading response opportunities.
- Use reading response 1-pagers that target a specific skills.
- Allow class time for working on reading response.
Read more detail below.
Tip #1: Read alouds provide powerful reading response ideas.
Start with a read aloud that all students can access because you, the teacher, are reading it to the class. Have discussions about the book as you complete the day’s reading. Note the setting and its impact. Point out a character’s trait and how it has influenced events in the story. If there’s a sub-plot, note this. All the literary elements can apply, as well as the author’s craft.
In this way, the read aloud text becomes a teaching tool, and you will use it in a variety of ways throughout the school year. If you have a class set on novels, this is ideal. Grab this Close Reading freebie which includes tips and printables to help you teach even more close reading skills in your classroom.
Tip #2: Use the read aloud text as a model for written response to the text.
This means that you are writing a response based on a text that all students can access. In turn, the students will use your written response model to help write their own response to their independent reading or other content area reading.
Make sure to make the prompt visible. As you write your response, think aloud about your answer and choice of words. Ask the students what they think should be added to your response. They are not copying what you are writing down, but are rather observing you write your response as well as observing you analyzing your own writing. This is the modeling. In this way, your written response becomes mentor text.
Return to the prompt to which you are responding. Read it aloud again so that you are sure you’ve covered all the important information in your response. And yes, model how to use the prompt as part of your response so that you are restating it in your first sentence.
As an added bonus, you can also do quick mini-lessons on punctuation, showing how and when you use certain marks.
Tip #3: Using class discussion is one of the easiest reading response ideas
It’s almost like you’re running a whole-class book club, with just one book as the focus. Allowing students to access a text gives them confidence to share their thoughts with you and others.
It’s still remarkable to me after teaching 6th grade for many years that students come to me having never completed a book. When you use a low risk book, you can show students how they, too, can think about their own reading. Surprisingly, I’ve had students say to me that they didn’t know you could spend time actually discussing a book! Like they had no idea there was depth beyond the letters on a page. You can see that modeling with a read aloud book offers endless teaching opportunities. One of the best ways to increase reading comprehension and reading levels is to add book clubs to your reading program. Read this blog post about using book clubs in the classroom.
Tip #4: Use reading response 1-pagers that target a specific skill.
This means that one week (or however many days you’d like to have between students responding to reading) we might be focused on just the impact of setting. So on Monday I introduce what setting is, discuss our favorite settings and how they make us feel, and then we remember a time when a setting created a problem for us. Then we look for evidence of setting in our read-aloud. When it’s time for students to do their own reading, they, too, are looking for evidence of setting in their own text.
The next response opportunity may be directed at conflict. Using the same model, teach about the concept. Perhaps do an activity about the types of conflict, and then look for it in the read aloud. Likewise, students will look for conflict in their own independent reading books.
I love the reading response pages I created several years ago because they target just one skill. The writing area is not overwhelming, so kids don’t shut down, but also, kids can’t go on and on in their writing. They have to get to the point and provide evidence.
Find a set of reading response pages here. It comes in both print and digital for both fiction and nonfiction reading.
Tip #5: Allow students time in class to work on their reading response activities.
This is especially true for the first few times. Project your example response based on the read aloud text. This is an easy way to offer scaffolding for those who need it. As the year progresses, you can opt to assign a response page for independent practice time outside of the classroom.
I use reading response logs for independent reading accountability. These allow for versatility because I change the prompts out as needed and I can change up one side to with a one-pager response. This keeps it fresh for students and allows me to target multiple standards and skills.
Reading response ideas are all around us. Keeping it simple will reduce your workload and help make responding to text a regular activity in your classroom.
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