Writing About Reading

MGES Literacy Coach Newsletter December 2014

This month's newsletter focus is writing about reading. We hope you find the articles, photographs of Morris Grove work, and videos beneficial.

Congratulations to last month's survey winner, Gail Shen! To enter this month's raffle, look for the link the newsletter to the December survey. All MGES members who answer will be entered into a drawing for a $5 gift certificate to their choice of Barnes and Noble or Starbucks.

Tips for Teaching Students How to Write About Their Reading

The CCSS requires that student not only read and comprehend text but that they also be able to demonstrate their understanding through writing.

Simply assigning more writing about reading will not support students in getting better at writing about reading. Systematic and direct instruction is critical to developing writing about reading skills.


  • Start by assuming kids don't know what the question is asking for and/or may not understand the academic vocabulary in the question.
  • Ensure that students are able to successfully respond to the question orally. You may spend up to several days developing an understanding of the concept through discussion before moving to working on written responses.
  • Model, model, model how to respond to a question. Explain and emphasize the academic language involved.
  • Practice responding through shared writing. You may have students take focused notes during or right after their reading that they can refer to during the shared writing experience.
  • Have students practice responding with a partner before moving to independent responses.
  • Carefully select books that support the writing about skills you are trying to develop.
  • Use the CCSS to guide you in the process of creating strong, grade appropriate questions.
  • For small group instruction, use the CCSS for the next grades to develop questions for students who have mastered grade level standards.

Example of a Model for Students of the Work to be done

Big image

Including Writing About Reading in Mini-lessons, Independent Reading & Sharing

Planning beforehand

  • Consider your expectations.

  • Consider the amount of text the children will need to record. Will a small post it note be adequate? Or will they need a larger post it note with lines or an index card? Is there a child with fine motor issues who will need a larger space to record their thoughts?


  • Model what you would like students to be doing during their independent reading.

  • For younger students, you may have students “Stop and Sketch” an understanding or simply use a post it note to mark a place they want to refer back to later.

  • For older students, teach them how to use their “Stop and Jot” notes as the foundation for more detailed writing about their understandings. (see picture above)

  • Before you send kids off to work independently, be sure that they are clear about what to write on their post-it note. Invite students who are still unsure to stay with you on the carpet after the mini-lesson so you can clarify the task with them in a small group.

Independent Reading

  • As you meet with small groups, you might reinforce the work students are doing with their post-its.

  • In reading conferences, ask the student to share what they have written or what they are planning to write.


  • It is important to hold kids accountable for their work and for them to know you will do so.

  • Plan how students will share their learning. Consider how you can involve more students in sharing rather than just highlighting one or two.

  • You will need to balance your need for the sharing time to be brief with making the sharing meaningful. Students can share in pairs with each other rather than all listen to just one or two students.

Morris Grove Examples of Writing About Reading Work

View All About It! Video Examples of Writing About Reading

Gretchen's Corner

We're adding a new form of audiobook to the library collection, the Playaway. These are small devices with one book loaded on them. (The same devices that are being used for the Walking Classroom, if you're familiar with that program.) Students will also be able to check out a copy of the book if they like. I can provide earbuds for students who don't have them.

These devices will be available to students in grades 3-5. I'll be contacting those teachers to set up a time to share information with classes. Parental permission will be needed before students can check them out.