Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Writing Better Reading Responses

This year in my classroom, I introduced CAFE to my students.  Except that I didn't write it CAFE, I wrote it CAFER.  I love CAFE in my classroom, but the extra R, I believe, is definitely needed.  What is that extra R?  Reading Responses.  Or, since I teach in a French school, Répondre au texte.  

At the beginning of the year, my students would respond to questions from a text with very limited abilities.  Either it'd be one loooooong sentence, or a simple "yes because I think he's great" answer.  And I knew I had work to do!

First strategy we worked on was making sure we repeated the question in our answer.  If the question asked what you thought about Billy, the first sentence of your answer should be "I think Billy is...".  Always.  My students picked that up very quickly!  And we were off to a better response already.

Second strategy was to add "because" to your answer.  "I think Billy is great because..."  This way, you are always adding at least one supporting idea to your opinion.  

Third strategy was to add "Also" to your answer.  Finishing off one idea and starting another, giving a more meaningful and in depth answer.  "I think Billy is great because he loves to fish.  Also, he enjoys spending time outdoors, and so do I."  

Another strategy was to ensure you had ideas from the text (ie. he loves to fish) as well as your own ideas (ie. loves spending time outdoors, and so do I).  

So I've listed a few strategies, but the greatest part is that my students actually LOVE working on these strategies!  Every day, we read together.  I actually alternate between two books, one in French and one in English.  Afterwards, I pass each student a post-it and write one question on the board.  The students have to write their answers on this post it.  And then the fun part!  The students then gather in groups of 4 or 5 (sometimes, I pick up their post-its first and make the groups based on their answers) and using a white sheet of paper, will highlight parts of each post it and together, write out the BEST reading response they can.  They will stick the post-its on the sheet as well, so we can all see where they highlights and how they formed their best answer.

My students do this at least 3 times a week and together we have improved our reading responses.  They are often posted on the bulletin board for everyone to see.  And it's so amazing to see their progression from the beginning of the year to now!  They are definitely writing better reading responses!

Sometimes I know it's hard to come up with proper questions to ask your students, and that's where my wonderful resource comes through!  Check out my 75+ Reading Strategy Questions Fan, perfect for any fiction story, working through 10 different reading strategies.  Two birds, one stone!  

En français?  Toutes les questions sont traduites pour vous!  Cliquez ici pour mon Évantail de questions pour les stratégies de lecture.  Plus de 75 questions pour des textes fictions.  

And there you have it! I hope your students can write better reading responses!

Have a great day!