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We came back with a comeback

We came back this week.
My couch missed me; I could tell.

So this week was one of those, “Uh oh. I thought I had planned slightly better than I did. So now…we’re gonna…ummmm…shoot.”

I had plenty to do. I just wasn’t quite ready to do it.

But it turned out pretty great. One of the things that went the best this week was our nonfiction response. We’ve read lots and lots of nonfiction and practiced strategies with it every week.

But I hadn’t started doing nonfiction responses with the kids yet; at least not in a structure anyway. This was because of one basic reason.

They didn’t make any sense. They, being the kids and their reading and writing thoughts.

I have a group of kids this year that really struggles in reading. A few non-readers (I hate reading. I hate school. I hate people who make me read at school.), a group of struggling readers (I love reading. I think I’m better at it than I am. I’m going to pretend to read Harry Potter for ten minutes when I should be reading Clifford.)

This makes me sad. Kids in third grade shouldn’t hate reading. It should be their best friend.
I consider this one of my primary jobs. To make kids better at reading, and to make them enjoy it more. It’s hard to like something you stink at. I think I might enjoy modeling, but it turns out I don’t have the figure.
Or demeanor.
Or walk.
Or butt.

So if kids can get better at reading, they will be more likely to do it, not only when I ask them to, but for fun. (maybe. someday. I can dream.)

I just can’t imagine my own life without the benefit of being a reader. I picture myself smacking gum with a 1960s hairdo and answering phones for a series of balding men who smell like curry.

I don’t know why.

You know this about me if you’ve read my (only) post at The Best Endings. I need to get back in the game. More to come.

Sorry for the departure.
This is what we did.

First, we previewed nonfiction features, predicted, read (and discussed, and re-read over a period of three days) a 3rd grade Scholastic News article about endangered species making a comeback.

We have practiced asking different types of questions, reacting with an opinion, visualizing, and using background knowledge, among other strategies. We started charting some of our reactions.

Then we created a structure to respond in. I try to keep it simple (usually the best bet when starting out) by using a four-sentence response. This is the chart we made. (My charts are never very lovely- they are usually pretty spontaneous and rarely without errors.

I’m impressed I remembered to use two different colors.

Hey, it’s called a teachable moment.

So then I modeled writing a response, one sentence at a time. I believe that the most valuable tool we have to help kids make their thinking about reading, math, science, and social studies into more sophisticated thoughts is writing. They have to write all day. (I’m a bit of a crazy about it, but I believe we don’t only write to explain or demonstrate knowledge. We write to find out what we think about things sometimes.)

My favorite part of this process is the last sentence – the Take-Away. It’s what we call the idea, new thinking, or revelation that you now have, thanks to reading whatever you read.

These are the kids’ responses. They used the sentence stems that I modeled. They’re simple, but I’m pretty happy with them. For the first attempt, they really looked great!

As you can see, we need a little work on their, they’re, and there, but other than that, we’ve made some progress! Yay for progress. Every painstaking step.

If you’re looking for a way to support and scaffold your students with their reading responses to informational text, you might be interested in my Scaffolded Reading Responses for Informational Text.  35 pages of responses!


and the Writing Process Posters at my TPT store and Teacher’s Notebook.

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Happy Teaching!


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  1. Hi! I'm your newest follower. I love your blog. I've taught 3rd grade before and had those kids who hated reading, too. Personally, I couldn't imagine life without a book because I read ALL the time!!!! It wasn't until I had my own daughter, who hated reading, that I searched and searched and searched for ideas. How could possibly not love books as much as I did at her age??? I did all the things the parenting books tell you to do and still she didn't like to read. She was above grade level reader so it wasn't an skill issue. The way I finally "hooked" her was with graphic novels. I think at this age she like the Babymouse series. I don't know if you have any of these type of books in your class library or not. But, it's worth a try! Good luck with them!

  2. Yes, Michelle – the graphic novels are a godsend. They also like Ricky Ricotta and, of course, Captain Underpants. There are a few others I can't think of offhand, but I need to invest in some more – once they get hooked, they go through them kind of fast. But I'm fortunate that our school library has an enormous collection. Most of my able readers like to read, usually because of efforts like you described- it's more my struggling readers that don't.

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