Reading Strategies Goal 13: Improving Writing About Reading

Hello!  I'm thrilled to be sharing my thoughts on the final chapter of The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo!

Chapter 13 is full of strategies for improving our students' writing about reading.

"Teaching children to write well about their reading is about teaching them that their thinking about books matters.  It matters enough to take the time to write it down." 
 - Jennifer Serravallo, The Reading Strategies Book

Sometimes in our classrooms, writing about reading ends up on the back-burner because of one reason or another.  This chapter made me completely re-evaluate my own thinking on the importance of writing about reading.  It's not optional - your job really isn't done until you've taken the time to write about what you read!

Serravallo points out that many of the strategies she discusses are aimed at readers in upper elementary grades or middle school grades.  It's more important for younger readers (namely, in kindergarten and first grade) to read often and practice "print work, fluency, and comprehension" (pg. 351).  

There are 23 strategies for improving writing about reading in the book, and I'm going to highlight three of them.

Sketch a Memory (Strategy 13.1)

This strategy would be perfect for the beginning of the year!  With this strategy, students are asked to think about a positive reading memory they have.  Then, they will draw a sketch showing details of the memory and tell what made the experience so positive.  Finally, they will write a plan for how they can have more positive reading memories.

I love this strategy because it helps students think about reading in a new way.  We think about what we read and we do comprehension activities, but how often to we think about how reading makes us feel, or replay a positive reading memory in our minds?  I love this strategy so much!

You could have students complete this strategy in a notebook or just on a piece of paper.  I also created a free and simple template for using this strategy.  I also included a half-sheet template for conferencing.  If you use this strategy, you'll want to take time to meet with each of your students so they can share their positive memory and so you can help them make their plan.  Click here to download the template!

Quick Stops Using Symbols (Strategy 13.2)

I love this strategy for so many reasons, and it uses sticky notes, which we all love!  With this strategy, readers make quick stops while reading and jot down a symbol to represent their thinking.  For example, if a student thinks a certain part is funny, they write "LOL" on a sticky note and then continue reading.

This strategy could be scaffolded for younger readers in a few ways, too!  You could focus on one symbol at a time.  You could also prepare sticky notes with symbols ahead of time for students to use.

It's important to make sure you and your readers revisit their quick stops after reading.  Serravallo includes some great prompts you can use with your students while they read and while you are revisiting their stops.  

I made a free bookmark that can help your students remember which symbols they might want to use when they make a quick stop.  Click here to download it!

What Can I Do with a Sticky Note? (Strategy 13.6)

Here's another great strategy that uses sticky notes!  Sticky notes can be used as a tool to help us think as we read, like with the quick stops strategy.  They can help us remember what we've read, and they can help us write about what we've read after we are finished reading.  

Serravallo points out that this strategy is great for readers who are overusing sticky notes, or for a reader who is struggling to begin using sticky notes.  This strategy helps readers understand their purpose for writing on a sticky note.

To teach this strategy, you can teach a lesson about things you can do with a sticky note.  Serravallo includes a great visual on page 361 that you could use to make an anchor chart or provide as another visual tool.  For example, we can use sticky notes to write what we're thinking about as we read, or write about something we would like to talk about.  We can also draw quick pictures on sticky notes.  

This strategy goes hand-in-hand with the next strategy in the book, which is for helping students decide which of their sticky notes are worth keeping.  

I love the way you can empower your students with these strategies!  Children can really take reading into their own hands.  When readers learn the purpose for incorporating writing into the reading process, they learn that their thoughts and opinions on what they read really matter.  

I've only scratched the surface on strategies for teaching our students how to write about their reading!  I highly encourage you to read Jennifer's book for yourself and see how it can truly strengthen your reading instruction!  (Note:  You can rent The Reading Strategies Book from Amazon if you don't want to buy it.  I rented first and then ended up purchasing it!)

I hope you've enjoyed reading about this strategy and all of the other reading strategies in this book!  If you would like to check out posts about the other strategies, you can find the links below.  Enjoy!

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1 comment

  1. Great post Katie! Thank you for linking up! I agree that writing about reading can end up on the back burner without you even realizing it! Thanks also for the reminder about renting books from Amazon - I never remember to try that!


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