October 15, 2013

Reading Response Letters

Earlier in the year I mentioned how we'll spend approximately the first 20-30 days talking about what good readers do. We still have a few good reader habits to discuss, but we've covered the big ones. Even as I type this post, I think to myself, "Are we ever really done talking about what good readers do?" and the answer to that question of course, is no, but for the sake of keeping families and parents informed about what's happening in my classroom, the phrase "moving on" seems to fit the bill. 

I mentioned that these first 20-30 days would incorporate writing about our reading.  We've been doing a lot of little writing tasks but it's now time for us to take the next step. Beginning Wednesday, the boys and girls are going to learn how to write something called a Reading Response Letter. 

We've talked for weeks now about how good readers ask questions about what they are reading. Now we're going to take those questions and use letter-writing as our text format to express our response to a story.  

The story we'll use for our first letter is called, "One Green Apple" by Eve Bunting. It's a really rich text with all kinds of opportunities for connections and questions (Eve Bunting's books are great for this).

In keeping with my policy to use the Gradual Release Method of instruction, we'll write this letter together as a class. Then, I'll invite students to compose their own with just a bit of my support (using this same text...I think-it's possible that we might need a new story).  

Finally, students will read a brand new story and write their very own, no help from the teacher, Reading Response Letter.  It'll take us a while to get there but it's so worth it.  

So here's where we're at:  
Last week, I read just the first page of "One Green Apple" to the kids.  I had them record a question they had on their Post-it Notes.  
That same afternoon, I read them a few more pages and asked the boys and girls to write another question.  On Wednesday, I'll finish the story and ask the students two write two more questions they have. 

From there, we'll go through the letter writing steps together. At this stage in their academic career, I believe strongly in providing students with the steps to success when it comes to all kinds of writing tasks. I'm very thorough in my instruction and provide things like checklists, powerpoints, examples, you name it to put the kids on the right path for success. There's also plenty of room for creativity within those steps.  

It's more of a spaghetti sauce recipe than a pastry recipe...lots of room to add your own flair. 

So to end what might be this blog's longest post, please continue to visit and watch for "Reading Response Letters: Part 2" coming soon!  

One Green Apple by Eve Bunting 
This was the first page. I read only this to the students and asked them to record a question they had. 

Next, I read a few more pages, (only a few!) and asks student to again record a question they had. 


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