Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ways we are using our Reader's Notebooks!

One of my favorite parts of reading workshop is teaching students how to talk and write about their reading.  I LOVE creating charts to write about our read alouds and to help lift the level of our conversations so I am constantly modeling how to write about reading through chart-making with my students.  I always tell my students that the chart is our giant reader's notebook and during read aloud I model a variety of strategies to organize, keep track of, and deepen our thinking.  This consistent modeling helps students transfer the strategies into their own reader's notebook to write about their independent books.  To read my post I wrote a couple years ago about reader's notebooks, click here.

Below are some examples of charts created during read aloud to model a variety of writing about reading strategies:


Each year, I encourage students to not only try out the strategies that I model during read aloud, but to also create and try out their own strategies.  I want my students to always feel ownership over their reader's notebooks and know that it is a place for them to choose how they want to express their thinking about their reading in a way that makes sense to them and is purposeful for them.  I don't want it to feel like a chore or something they are doing just for me.  I want them to see and understand the purpose and value of writing about their reading and how it helps them grow their thinking and conversations.  Students have the choice to use pencil, different colored pens, post-its, sketches, and more.   By giving students ownership of their notebooks, they truly do use it as a tool and it is amazing to see the strategies they create and use! 

I think it is important for students to teach one another the strategies they create and use so I make time for students to share and teach one another.  Last week, during reading workshop, students had the opportunity to share a strategy they are using in their reader's notebook.   They used the document camera to share a page from their notebook to visually show the strategy and teach their classmates how and why they use it.  In addition, they share the name they chose to call the strategy if they created it - some of the strategy names are very creative! As students share strategies and explain them with an example from their notebook, I record the strategy name along with an example on a chart for the class to use as a tool.  Next to the strategy, I write down the name of students' who shared the strategy so their classmates can check out their notebooks and/or talk to them more about the strategy.  

Below are two of our class charts that were created while students shared strategies from their notebooks: 
Class chart created while students shared ways they are using their reader's notebooks

Second class chart created while students shared more ways they are using their reader's notebooks.

Below are some examples from students' reader's notebooks:


Students also showcase colored photocopies of pages from their reader's notebooks on one of our bulletin boards.  If they want a page photocopied, they mark the page with a post-it and put it on a table in the back of our classroom at the end of the day.  Once it is photocopied, they hang it up along with a colored label where they write their name and the name of the strategy they used.  This bulletin board not only gives students a chance to showcase their writing about reading strategies, but also serves as a teaching tool where students learn from one another! 

Reader's Notebook Bulletin Board 

Happy Writing about Reading! :)


  1. This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing your thinking and all the examples from your classroom.

  2. We love the way the students have so much ownership in this process. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hello! I am reading this post again as I prepare to teach a writing about reading unit with my fifth graders. Can you tell me exactly what the Dessert strategy is? Thanks so much for all the great ideas!

  4. Hi! Like Christina, I am also preparing a unit on writing about reading and would love an explanation of the "dessert" strategy. Thanks so much! I love reading your posts!

    1. Hi, the dessert strategy was created by one of my students this year. He is a great artist so he tends to draw pictures to help him organize his thinking. For example, he may draw an ice cream cone and the ice cream may be this theory and the cone might list his evidence. Or a slice of cake might represent how his thinking has changed (each layer in cake might be a different level of thinking to show how he is deepening his thinking). Hope that helps!