Writing About Reading

Writing About Reading
Posted on 02/13/2015
from Sara-Jane Rogers, Literacy Coach

In a previous Broadside column called “Reading is Thinking,” I wrote about an important School Improvement goal: Improving students’ deeper reading comprehension. Baldwin students think and talk about reading on a daily basis in order to deepen their understanding. This happens during teacher read-alouds, small group reading lessons and during social studies and science as students read and comprehend non-fiction texts. It even occurs during math, for example, when students are engaged in solving story problems and must thoroughly understand the question(s) they are being asked before they can do the math.

A high leverage strategy supported by educational research for helping students deepen their comprehension is writing about reading. In addition to the thinking and talking about reading that happens daily in classrooms, we expect students to be writing frequently about their reading, explaining their thinking. This year, Baldwin teachers have been collaborating within and across grades to think about and plan writing about reading routines and lessons. A few classroom examples I’ve seen recently are:

Kindergarten/Grade 1
After hearing several teacher read-alouds, students engage in a shared writing experience in which the teacher records their thinking on chart paper about ideas common to the books. Students draw and write about what they think might happen next in a story they listen to at the listening center.

Grade 2/3
Students write a letter to the teacher identifying character traits of the main character and provide two examples from the text to back up their thinking.

Grade 4/5
Students choose a significant quote from a book and tell what it says about a character. Students exchange letters with the teacher discussing their independent reading book, providing evidence from the text to support their thinking.

How can parents help at home? Most importantly, be sure your child is reading and/or being read to every day at home. Express interest in what he or she is reading and ask questions that push their thinking. Questions that will help your child provide evidence from the text to support their thinking are, “What makes you think that?” and “Can you tell me something from the book that makes you say that?” The discussions you have at home about books will support your child in becoming a deeper thinker about reading.