Friday, February 22, 2013

Reviving Reader's Notebooks...

This is the time of year when I always felt a need to "revive" my reader's notebooks.  There were readers who embraced our notebooks, readers who did not engage in the notebooks, and by now...our reading lives had grown and changed.

The notebook is a great organization tool to showcase growth and changes in a student's reading life.  But what was my purpose? Was it to record books that they have read, to keep a list of books they want to read, to tally different genres, or to compile their thinking for groups or book clubs?  Was it all of those?  Some of those?  What was the purpose?

I realized one of my main purposes was to provide students a place to record their thinking WHILE reading a text.  At the beginning of the was a "sticky note" collection that we used for book talks, book partners and conferences.  I had a collection of authentic thoughts and strategies that were put at the forefront in our reading workshop.
Collection of thinking for a book partner.
But then...I felt a need to develop a purpose that was even more choice-driven by providing students an avenue to develop their own monitoring plan.  What did the student need to "hold on to" so they could take their comprehension to a deeper level?  What focus did they want to explore so they would do more close reading and not feel like they "had to " stop?

Student trying a book that was "longer" for her.  She felt a need to track the big event at the end of every chapter.  She was not use to having a book last several days.  

A student was reading a nonfiction book about different breeds of dogs.  She wanted to keep track of the different groups of dogs, an example of a dog, and a detail about that group while she reading.  She said, "I never knew that there were this many breeds of dogs!"

A student was inspired by a mini-lesson to think about the "mood" she felt as a reader.

But then...I felt a need to "push" the readers to deeper skills such as analyzing, evaluating, categorizing...The best avenue for this was to use graphic organizers (some pre-made and some constructed from anchor charts) from mini-lessons and bring those skills at the forefront of the notebooks.

Categorizing information about Harry Houdini into important events in his life and stunts.

A student decided to use a graphic organizer from writing workshop.

A student decided to evaluate the decisions of her character.
At the end of all this thinking...Whether it was jotting on post-its, developing their own jotting plan, or using graphic organizers to deepen their thinking...students had choice to "revive" what they needed to move their reading life forward at their individual pace.


  1. Oh my perfect post for a snow day! Amazing ideas and so many things to process and consider. I am getting ready to start our next read aloud and I desperately want my students to go to that next level- higher thinking and stronger evidence!! AMAZING post!!

    1. Happy Snow Day! Or should I say Ice Day! We had parent teacher conferences last night...great present to wake up to today!

      I am glad you found the post helpful...and here is another thought...the examples are all from the same student in a three month time span! If you knew her life as a reader, this notebook speaks volumes!

      My students really responded to having that "focus" or "purpose" while reading because they chose it! I was always amazed at what they came up...many times when the students chose a graphic organizer from a mini-lesson...I think they thought that it was easier but in reality...all of the organizer pushed them to specific evidence and higher level thinking.

      You just inspired a next post...all the graphic organizers!

    2. PS...What book are you thinking for your next read aloud?

    3. really on the fence....How to Steal a Dog, Flying Solo, or a Gary Paulson book so all the students have a copy of it. BIG
      decision I have to make it by next Tuesday.

    4. How to Steal a Dog and Flying Solo are my favorites! Both with inspire reading more books by these authors! How to Steal a Dog leads to a lot of evaluating decisions. Flying Solo leads well to analyzing. Hmmmm....can't go wrong with these choices!