Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Digging Deeper: Writing about Reading!

Hello everyone!  

Are you counting down the days until spring?  I know we are!  The students are getting a little touch of "Spring Fever" so I am trying to balance the wiggles we are experiencing with our need to really dig "DEEP" into our content.  The Common Core really is asking us to push our students, and as I have been really working to immerse myself in the CCSS and the "intent" of it, I realize that there are few things that I think we need to keep in mind as we move forward.  Perhaps you will agree--perhaps not--but I do think we need to really increase the level of professional dialogue about what the Core means to us and to our students.  So--here are a few "blanket statements" I would like to throw out there!

  • First, we need to remember that our number one obligation is to our students.  They are just little people who put all their trust in us to take care of them, to teach them, and to make wise decisions for them!  We cannot let our worries/stresses/frustrations get to them!  (This is me doing a little "self-talk" as I feel my end of quarter stresses beginning to mount!)

  • The Core has drawn a line in the sand--we need to be pushing our students harder, we need to present them with more rigorous texts, and we need to work to weed out some of the "fluffier" lessons we have added to our collection in the past.  The Core doesn't really ask our students to be making text-to-self connections or other reflective tasks. . . it wants students to analyze the text itself so comprehension is deep.  Several years ago I had an "AHA" moment with this when I read Eve Bunting's "Sunshine Home" to my class.  I had the students write about the text when we finished and every single child made a text-to-self connection about having a grandmother.  Not. Very. Deep. . . .and certainly didn't contribute to better understanding of the text!

  • Students' self-esteem is fragile--but they DEVELOP self-esteem by being faced with challenging tasks, being properly supported through the tasks, and being recognized for their successes.  Self-esteem does NOT come from giving students easy tasks or by throwing them into difficulty activities without proper modeling, support, or coaching.  We can make a difference in how students see themselves as readers and thinkers!

  • Digging deeper into texts is FUN for students!  If we give them the tools they need, they can not only think more deeply about their independent reading, but book discussions can be more engaging and more interactive!
So . . . I have working to find ways to really get my students engaged in reading, discussing, and writing about what we read--and I am REALLY trying to do a better job of modeling my own thinking!  

Here is my goal for the next week--I am going to work at helping students develop double entry journals about a series of picture books we are going to read to review key literary elements such as symbolism, foreshadowing, flashback, figurative language and the like.  I have created an anchor chart to help us keep track of evidence we find in the text and our own thinking about the text.

See what you think:

I am going to work hard to model, model, model the difference between evidence from the text and my own thinking and try to scaffold their work along the way.

Here's why--our goal for the next month or so is to have students write a series of literary essays, and I feel I need to beef up my students' skills before we tackle this.  For the last few years I have used something I call "Pausing Points" in my class . . . sometimes before we read, sometimes while we read, and sometimes after we read.  I try to get my students to tackle something related to the text that is just a LITTLE bit more in depth than they have done before . . . working toward getting them to be the kind of sophisticated thinkers the Core requires them to be!

Some of you may have either used my historical fiction book study resource, my "Digging Deeper:  Writing about Reading", or one of my novel studies.  If so, you have seen the "Pausing Points" and have hopefully found them useful!  If not, I have pulled one out of my "Character Studies" unit to give you as a freebie to see what you think.  I am confident that we can raise the level of our students' responses to literature--if we take the time to coach them through!

Interested in trying one?  Here is the freebie!

Here are the links to a few of the resources I mentioned in the blog post if you want to see how I have used "Pausing Points" in different ways!  Let me know what you think!

Thanks for stopping by to visit!


  1. Great post! I totally agree that getting students to respond to reading is a great way for them to go deeper with their thinking:)

    1. Thanks, Jen...it's tough, isn't it? I think sometimes they think there is one right answer and are afraid to toss other ideas out there!

    2. Fourth Grade Studio, I agree with you. I am taking Reading for upper elementary in this school. What i need is more encouraging on this area as fist year teaching teacher. I Like to read along ideas shared in this blog

  2. I am excited to check out these products. Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed your post. :)

  3. I am right there with you! My students have reading response journals, and connections are an "easy" thing for them to add. I've started pushing them to tell me how their connection helped them understand the plot or characters better. It really takes that superficial connection back to the book and makes it go a little deeper.

    I'm excited to check out your freebie for another way to encourage deep thinking and analysis! Thank you for sharing!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

    1. Thanks, Jenny! I do think it helps students to get engaged with a text when we gently push them...sometimes I think it just didn't occur to them to think more deeply! We have to show them how! :)

  4. I very much appreciate you sharing your insight. I am still very uncertain about how much, or how little, is actually getting through to my students. Thank you for the freebie, and I will definitely check out your other resources!

  5. I very much appreciate you sharing your insight. I am still very uncertain about how much, or how little, is actually getting through to my students. Thank you for the freebie, and I will definitely check out your other resources!

  6. Generally I don't learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very great article.Also visit my page 

    Self Esteem Activities - Enter the world of building self esteem. Former low self esteem sufferer unlocks the code to getting your best life. Discover the correct keys to a content and happy life

  7. Thanks so much for sharing this information. This is useful and interesting concept.I really impressed by your blog.
    website design


Thank you for your comment! We appreciate your input!

-All Things Upper Elementary

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Blogging tips