Mindful Readers

I’m not going to make an excuse about why I haven’t written in a while. I, in fact, have a perfectly reasonable explanation. I haven’t had anything to say! Haha. The short story is that at the end of the year, I was doing more of the same of what I had been talking about already. Over the summer, I got a NEW job (hooray!) and I’ve been spending the first few months getting used to a new school and district and haven’t been doing a lot of my “own” thing.

I’m starting to make some changes, though, and I’m ready to share with you!

I knew I wanted to start this year with a focus on mindfulness. I loved the strategies I was teaching last year (Notice and Note Signposts - check them out) because I felt like they gave students a concrete idea on which to attach their thinking as they were reading. They were becoming much more thoughtful readers in my small groups and our conversations often turned to what “good readers” do.

This year, I started the year talking to students about what they know about “good readers.” We worked together to create a mind map with ideas. I printed those and had students glue them into their reader’s notebooks where we added on for the next few weeks. Each day, we would talk about what we did as “good readers” that day. Sometimes we were using the behaviors we’d already listed in the mind map and sometimes we were coming up with something new and adding onto the mind map to complete our thinking. I was excited to see students really connecting with the behaviors of a good reader! Success!

But… it could be better.

In my first formal observation conference, my principal and I were talking about how great it was that the students were becoming more mindful and developing the list on their own, but wouldn’t it be nice if there was more attention to understanding how well they were doing and understanding how they could get better?

That’s when the idea of a rubric came into play. I decided to take the behaviors from the mind map and work with students to organize their ideas into different categories. Once we’d placed all of our ideas into the rubric, I worked with them to add a few more things that I knew we would be talking about as a group. Each group got their own rubric (they’re just slightly different) and each student wrote out a goal on their rubric along with a short sentence explaining how it would make them a better reader.

The rubric travels home with them when they take books home to read and comes back to class where we talk about how they rate themselves in different areas. I’m also putting together a Strategies Board for each of the categories so that students can use what we’ve learned to understand the expectations of each section.

We’re moving slowly but surely towards having groups of thoughtful readers who use strategies to dive into any reading they do.

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