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How To Engage Your Readers In Writing Long About Their Reading Thinking

Updated: May 22, 2023

Writing longer reading responses can be an overwhelming task for young readers--well, for any readers!

When readers are given a clear path about how to stop and jot about their thinking as they read independently, they will easily be able to move into writing longer about their reading thinking.

As students stop and jot, they are staying actively engaged and monitoring their own comprehension.

As we scan their jots, we can see what is going on inside of their head while they are reading.

Now, that’s great, but how can we take it to another level to build a bigger picture of our readers.

We can have them write long off of their post its!

Okay…so what does that mean?

Writing long off of your jots is about synthesizing the details and showing your comprehension of the text.

Think about this.

If you have ever participated in a book study or book club as an adult, haven’t you analyzed your thoughts while you read to dig down to a deeper meaning of the text. You were truly synthesizing the text to dig out a message and the meaning to the characters’ actions in relation to big picture of the story. Right?!

We are asking students to begin developing this skill and strategy to build their comprehension.

When I have asked students to write long off of their post its, I wanted them to write about their reading.

When I read their written work about their reading, it gives me a picture of their understanding of the text.

This provides details I can add to a student’s reading profile that I create for each reader to document how he/she comprehends text (or doesn’t comprehend it).

So, how do I get students to write long from their jots?

  1. Readers need to know what kinds of thinking is best to jot down as they read independently.

  2. Ask your readers to choose their 3 best post its. The “best” post its being those that really show some good thinking about the text and ones about which the reader is really proud.

  3. Ask your readers to choose and read ONE of the post its and write more about what it makes them think about the text. Really focus on what thoughts the post it thinking brought to mind.

  4. Repeat Step Three for the the other two post its.

  5. Have your readers read back over the longer responses about their independent reading and ask themselves if there are any questions left unanswered.

  6. BONUS: Use the written responses as evidence for a classroom or small group discussion about the text.

When we analyze this student response writing, we can see just how deep their thinking has gone into the text and what they did to reach that deeper meaning.

Now, on the other hand, if a student is not deeply understanding a text, we can see that, too, in the written response.

When students begin this writing long from their thinking notes, their writing may not be insightful and full of deep meanings from the text.

As teachers, we have to use this work to really get to know our readers and design lessons to move them further in their thought processing.

How do we do this? Teachers must model this kind of work while they read.

Now, I know that there are teachers that want to know what they want to write before they sit down in front of kids to model. That’s great!

However, my best lessons for writing long off of my post it notes were when I did my thinking right there in the moment…raw…unscripted.

Students got to see my mind really working in the moment of the text.

Now, I’m not advocating to go in to a classroom unplanned all the time. I am just saying that when I write long from my post its, I do that work “in the moment”, raw and unscripted.

Students will be able to understand that authentic engagement while processing text.

Teachers must be planned in everything they do, but this moment is what students need to see in order to push themselves even further.

Food for thought...

If I teach my students stop and jot,

Then, teach them to write long off of their post its,

Wouldn’t I be setting them up for authentic literary response writing or text dependent analysis?

Until next time…

If you are looking to easily and quickly assess your readers' Stop & Jots, as well as, their longer written responses, you'll want to check out this right here 👇👇👇

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