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WHY Students SHOULD BE Stopping and Jotting Thoughts While They Read

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

There has been some chatter on social media about not having students stop and jot while they read. Some believe it's a distractor. I have to disagree. And here's why...

I learned so much about my readers through these quick written responses. Stop and Jots are thinking, reactions and annotations about texts kept by a reader while they are reading.

When students stop and jot as they read, they are staying actively engaged in the text and monitoring their own comprehension through that inner conversation with the text. Readers should practice the strategy and skill work we teach and we need to see how they are doing.

This easy active engagement tool provides you with quick documentation to show and track a reader's progress. Not to mention, these quick little notes will provide the student with evidence and talking points for discussions and longer written responses.

Over the years I've had these 4 questions asked by many teachers.

What Are Jots?

  • Jots can be post-it notes tracking a character through a story.

  • Jots can be graphic organizers or think sheets used while reading.

  • Jots can be visual images that are evoked by the text.

  • Jots can be double-entry journal notes in a reader's notebook.

  • Jots can be questions a reader has about the text.

  • Jots can be inferences a reader is making about the text.

  • Jots can be predictions about the text.

  • Jots can be all of these and so much more...

Click on this gallery to see a few modeled Stop and Jots using

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and student work from Henry's Freedom Box.

Why Should Readers Jot?

  • Jotting while reading is a reader documenting his or her understanding of the text.

  • Jots are proof and documentation of a misunderstanding about the text.

  • Jots are a record of the inner conversation a reader is having with a text.

  • Jots provide insight into a reader's strategy or skill work and strategy or skill use.

  • Jots provide insight into a LACK of strategy or skill use.

  • Jots provide a picture of how a child is approximating his or her new learning.

  • Jots will be discussion points for conversations about text.

  • Jots can be text evidence to support discussions and conversations.

  • Jots will be notes taken for a written analysis response about a text.

What Will Stop and Jots Look Like Through the School Year?

At the beginning of the year, when students are just learning to stop and jot, they tend to just paraphrase what they are reading.

As a new strategy is taught and practiced, readers will make approximations in their strategy use as they practice this in their independent reading.

As students build their repertoire of reading strategies and skills throughout the year, readers may rely on just one strategy or skill with which they feel most comfortable. The readers' Stop and Jot notes will be overflowing with this comfortable reading strategy. This can signal what strategies and skills the reader needs next.

As readers become more comfortable with using a variety of comprehension strategies being taught, their stop and jots from independent reading will show a variety of strategies that they tend to rely on to understand and comprehend texts.

As the year progresses, a reader’s jots or little responses to text will develop and evolve based on the new strategies and skills they are learning to use to build their understanding and comprehension of text.

Using stop and jots is an authentic tool to utilize all year long. This type of written response can be developed throughout the year to provide readers with experiences to expand their thinking about reading making the longer written analytical responses an easier task to tackle. Grab the Stop and Jot assessment tool as part of the Stop & Jot Bundle (shown here).

What Does The Teacher Learn from Stop and Jots?

  1. As you glance through a reader's Stop and Jots, you can determine the strategy with which the reader is most comfortable.

  2. You will see which strategy the reader is approximating and practicing. This can inform your instruction and conferring points as to what guidance is needed to move your reader forward.

  3. You will be able to see how deeply the reader is taking the reading strategy.

  4. You will see how (and if) your reader is thinking beyond and about the text.

  5. Stop and jots allow you to "listen" in on a child's inner conversation with independently read texts.

Until next time...

Use the guiding questions on this Evaluating Student Reading Artifacts Cheat Sheet to use your readers' stop and jots to inform instruction. Grab it here...


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