Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Reading Activities Email

I recently emailed a colleague a list of reading activities that I do with my students when reading a novel. I thought it might be a good idea to post here in case I need a reminder...

Image credit: http://www.scuolemanzoni.it/images/gallery/immagini/immagine3.jpg

Four Corners 
This can be done as a pre/during/or after reading activity. Post the posters (Estoy muy de acuerdo, de acuerdo, nada de acuerdo, no estoy de acuerdo) in four different locations around the room. Take a selection from the text (an action of one of the characters, for example) or some related bit of current events (that you've made comprehensible) and project it (or not, the beauty of this activity is that you can use it whenever-- if you're reading out loud and a character has just done something controversial, stop and ask the class whether or  not they agree with the action) and ask students to go stand next to the poster that best represents how they feel about the passage. Once they've done this, give them a few minutes to discuss in groups why they feel this way (great time to practice sentence starters for expressing an opinion: En mi opinion, A mi me parece, Creo que...) and then ask one person from each corner to explain. Extend it by asking if anyone has changed their mind after listening to group explanations. You can find posters here:

I love this activity because it is so simple and there are so many  variations you can do to make it really work for you. Basically, while you're reading a passage out loud to the class, have them illustrate what they hear on a storyboard. To turn the listening comprehension activity into a speaking activity, have them partner up and show their pictures to their partner. Either have them use the TL to explain the storyboard or have the partner use the TL to try and interpret what they see. To use as a review activity (and a writing assessment), collect the drawings and during the review portion of the following class (as a warm up even), project one of the illustrations and have students describe in writing what they see. You could modify this activity from a whole group activity to one in which students work in pairs. One partner reads out loud while the other illustrates. 

I heard it! / ¡Lo oí!
I got this idea from Martina Bex and it is fabulous for insuring comprehension during a reading oh and the students LOVE it-- great confidence booster. Best to use with a difficult passage. Pre-read the selection you will be reading in class and pick out ten or twelve of the most important events in the chapter. Put them (in sequential order) on a PPT in English. Before you start reading the passage, have students read the event silently, then as you're reading, have students raise their hands and shout "¡Lo oí!" whenever you read the part in the chapter that corresponds to the event on the PPT. Extend it (and have students demonstrate greater comprehension) by asking students to identify specific words and their meaning. You can find more information and variations on Martina's blog:

3/5/10 (whatever!) Most Important Events
Great strategy to use with a really comprehensible selection. Pair  students and have them read a selection and identify the most important events in the selection. Have them write them out and be prepared to explain their choices in a class discussion. By the way, until your class is freely communicating in the target language without any coercion or behavior disruptions, that is to say, until college, you might want to use a rubric for classroom discussions that assigns a grade for participation (speaking grade). Love pair activities too because they allow you to work with struggling students. Extend it for students who excel by asking them, based on the events they identified, what will happen next in the story. 

This is similar to the activity above. I like to use it to get students to re-read a particular selection but it can definitely be used for the first go round. I usually have students work in groups of three for this (I don't particularly like groups of four but the number is really up to you) and I give each group a large post it note and markers. I assign a selection and ask students to read two paragraphs at a time (again the number of paragraphs depends on you and the text) and have students write a one sentence summary of what they've read. When the class is finished (usually the next day), I ask students to go around the classroom reading the group summaries, we then follow up with a discussion as to which group had the most accurate summary and why. Great review activity! Encourage students to use key vocabulary structures as well. 

Simultaneous Acting
Really awesome to use with a text that has a lot of action. Put students in groups according to number of characters in selection. For instance, if there are three characters, put students in groups of three. Assign each student a character and, while you read out loud, students should act out the action. You could do a friendly competition for most creative enactments to encourage participation.

A non-teacher led activity, this is a great in that it allows students to work independently, in pairs, or in small groups. You can choose the annotations you want students to use or, in order not to confuse and to support English objectives, you can use the annotations employed by the 8th grade English teachers (translated to Spanish, of course). Great activity for independent or whole group reading. 

Text to self, text to text, text to world
This is a variation on the annotations idea. Give students about five or six post its as they are reading and ask them to make connections between what they are reading and themselves, between one selection of the text and a prior selection and, finally, between the text and what is happening in the world. You will need to do some modeling for this activity. I would suggest doing it yourself during direct instruction. 

Sustained silent reading with whiteboards
I use this strategy frequently, usually with a not too difficult selection. I think all of Esperanza would qualify provided that key vocab. structures have been taught. First, I assign a passage and then give individual students a whiteboard and marker (or, if working in groups, I give out one whiteboard per group and each student gets a marker). I ask students to read through the selection writing any words they don't understand down on the whiteboard. I walk around the classroom as the students are reading and write the words I see on their boards on the whiteboard in front of the class along with the English translation. I really like this activity since it gives me a feel for how well the students are doing, which words are most challenging and it also allows students to ask for help without singling themselves out as not knowing something. Follow this up with class discussion and then assign reading comprehension questions to be done independently (formative assessment grade).

Here are some activities I haven't used but found from around the web and look interesting and useful:
I can statements
Basically a graphic organizer that gives students goals for their reading. You can do this for a specific chapter, book, two books, or the class. Might make for a good activity for independent reading or reading in pairs.

My favorite bailout moves
Not so much a list of reading activities but very useful for those moments when you think to yourself "what do I do now?!"

Ok, I think this is all for now but I will continue to add to this list and update you. I really hope this helps a little. I know it's difficult trying to think of ways to vary the reading. Please let me know if there's anything else you'd like me to do and how things are going!

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