Reading notes

Here are my Ixtapa notes from my classes with Jason. I am trying to keep in mind that reading is the activity that gives the most bang for your buck, teaching spelling, grammar, vocabulary and usage…Leslie D said that she tries to get kids to re-visit a story in different ways up to 30 times. Here goes…

When you’re reading in a big class group, give kids their own copy and ask them to highlight as you go. Underlining also works, but is less obvious.

Write up all your usual instructions so as to project them while you’re saying them. Kids get to hear and read.

Write the class story on the board; students copy.

After the class has written the story, they take it home to draw pictures to go with it, to read it to their parents, to add thought bubbles.

(Ooh…a fun thing for telling stories: create person-sized thought or speech bubbles and laminate them so that you can write the phrase of the day and the actor can be holding it.)

Readers’ theater brings in emotion and mind pictures.

Play the reading chain game. Everyone gets a card that says something like, “When someone coughs, run out the door.” Someone else has a card that says, “When someone runs out the door, run and shout I love you out the door.” and so on.

Take the text home and add two sentences of description for each character. Next time, add two sentences that describe places better.

Play sequencing games, both seated and large-frame. Save them rather than remaking them every year. You can print them out onto different-colored card stock and laminate, so that they won’t get mixed into the wrong envelopes.

Question Cube game (mentioned here elsewhere): Roll the cube and ask a question starting with that word about the text. The student who answers first gets to roll and ask the next question. Students can play out loud or silently (could use mini white boards).

Most Dangerous Game: Students have text (for reference) and a pencil in front of them. Teacher says a statement. Students try to be the first to pick up the pencil…if the statement is wrong. They get one point when they pick it up correctly, lose two points when it’s incorrect.

Game: What’s my line? (or “Who said…?”)

1. Teacher finds or makes up possible quotes by different characters.
2. Jason uses big sized pocket chart with the title of the game on the top, and puts in sentence strips with the quotes. Can say them out loud, or require that they be read.
3. Students look for the quotes and write the quote with the correct name. Later they have to justify who would have said it, if it is not actually in the story.

Jeopardy: use all stories as headings, or songs, and ask questions that they can go back and check for answers in their reading.

Use graphic organizers for them to fill in after reading for understanding: who/what/when/where/how, or Venn diagrams, or before/after, or cause/effect: can google “graphic organizers” and find a lot.

Story Pyramid (I have no idea what this means)

FVR: when kids finish a book, they put a recommendation on the back to encourage others to read it too.

Running dictation game forces kids to re-read a sentence multiple times (teacher posts a poster with sentences outside the door. One student in a pair dictates to the other what the sentence says…can’t take paper and pencil with them…they trade off every sentence.)

Butcher-block story writing…cut into chunks and the next class puts in order.

Read and choose between two statements which is true from the story.

Give kids handouts: top 200 words, linking words, useful phrases, numbers, days of the week, months, so that they can always spell those out correctly.


I’m sure others have more. My Jason notes end there. Please post other ideas for getting kids to re-read!!


10 responses to “Reading notes

  1. Here’s a sample of the reading chain game that I just made up for my (only 15 kids in the group) English class.

    When someone sneezes a fake sneeze, fall out of your chair onto the floor.
    When someone falls off a chair onto the floor, run to the white board and write your name.
    When someone writes their name on the board, jump up and down three times.
    When someone jumps up and down three times, shout, “I can’t believe this” and run out of the room (wait in the hall ‘till someone comes and gets you).
    When someone runs out of the room, run up to the board and write “Everyone loves” in front of a person’s name.
    When someone writes “Everyone loves” on the board, start singing “Ding, ding, ding,” in a medium voice.
    When someone starts singing “ding, ding, ding,” turn to that person and say, “It’s time to get up!”
    When someone says, “It’s time to get up,” run outside the class and bring whoever is in the hall into the room.
    When someone brings a person from the hall into the room, stand up and start applauding.
    When someone stands up and starts applauding, start counting to twenty out loud.
    When someone starts counting to twenty out loud, start counting from twenty back to one.
    When someone starts counting from twenty back to one, run up and down the aisle twice.
    When someone runs up and down the aisle, say, “I knew that I should be in another English class.”
    When someone says, “I knew I should be in another English class,” look at them and say loudly, “Why?’
    When someone says “Why” loudly, sneeze a huge fake sneeze.


  2. Thank you for sharing. These are great! and putting them into the context of getting kids to reread is a helpful big-picture perspective.


  3. I’ve done Story Pyramids before.

    The students get a reading, then they have to fill out a pyramid graphic organizer:
    (From bottom to top)
    Events (Sometimes helps to separate out)
    Theme/Main Idea

    Just don’t hand out a reading and tell them to do it; make them translate first. Otherwise they just skim, looking for the information.


  4. Thank you!

    I’m having these thoughts about assigning the pyramid to be filled out with drawings, so that then they tell about it to follow up.


  5. Michele
    Regarding Jason’s word bubbles, I have really had some fun with those. I made bubbles out of white cardboard (left over from the maintenance crew replacing doors this summer). I put two strips of Velcro on my front wall, (use the softer side so you don’t get stuck on it all the time) and put the sticky strips on the backs of my bubbles.

    Whenever we need them we just pop them up! There can be more than one as my strip on the wall goes up a ways. The arrows of the bubbles go both ways so I can put them on either side of the words we are working on or facing actors etc. It is cool. Hope it helps someone!


  6. So cute! I haven’t made mine yet–do you laminate them? Or just leave them as suggestions? I was thinking I’d write the phrase of the day (whatever the actor is saying) on the bubbles, whether thought or said.


  7. Michele,

    This is a great post! Thanks for the great notes. I suppose this is second best to sitting in Mexico and getting this stuff from Jason. 🙂

    Even though I’m usually not a fan of printing out copies for students, I can see the utility in it with all of these great activities.

    I really like the quote/thought bubble idea!


  8. I also don’t like to print things out, so I tend not to do it unless I know I’m going to use it a lot. I’m really working hard on sending kids back to re-read with questions, but I just read a post on Michel Baker’s blog that reminded me not to repeat activities too often in the same way. Jason said that when he just changed the color of his shower-curtain map, the kids would perk up. I guess that’s the next list we need to create: one of how to change things out so that the activities are different regularly.

    I haven’t done the fill-in with a word bank recently, so I need to do that, but then I would want to keep it and do a couple more things with it–my kids are saying that they want to use the white boards again. We haven’t done that for a while.


  9. Re; Word bubbles. I did laminate a couple of them but found it hard to erase after it had been there for a while. Most are just cardboard and I tried to use phrases I knew we would use a lot. Also I found some at Staples at the beginning of the year so those are erasable and work like small white boards.

    I’d love to hear more about your phrase of the day. I always worry that I will throw too much at them at once and conversely am concerned I am not giving them enough! Enough with the worry already!


  10. Just found this nine-square game on Martina’s site and thought it would be a good idea to add to this list.


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