Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Reading Notebooks

This year, I revised the materials in my reader's notebooks.  I'm using a combo of a binder and a notebook for reading workshop this year, and I'm not 100% happy with it.  I thought I would share some of what I've been doing.  Maybe you can help me tweak.

Let me first tell you how I've been working it.  In their binder, they have a section for anchor charts and handouts.  There's an index where they write the title of the paper so they can see at a glance what they have.  It' sort of like a mini version of my anchor chart binder, but they have only the few charts I give the entire class and the ones I give specifically to them as needed during conferencing.  There's also a section in their binder to keep track of books they have read, books they want to read, and a genre tracker.

Now, the notebook is more of our workhorse.  The notebook is where they take notes during mini-lessons, jot their thinking about their independent reading, and write their weekly letter to me for assessment.

These are the notebooks I use.  I got them at Staples during the ten cent sale.  My friends turn their notebooks in one day a week.  This way I only have to read 4 or 5 a day rather than all 24 at once.  As you can see, orange notebooks are due on Tuesdays.

When you open the notebook, you will first find this page:


I think the note is pretty clear.  Our focus this year is all about thinking deeper about our reading.  The next couple of pages give an example of friendly letter format and how to edit/proofread their letter.

We edited "idea chart" to read "thinking stems"
Next, there are facing pages that have the "thinking stems" we use.  A reader had asked me to post a link to these, but I just can't find it.  I pulled these pages from a file I've had for a few years.  I know I originally found them on the web, but when I tried to find them again this year I couldn't.  If you have ever run across these, please let me know where so I can credit the author.
This is glued on to the left page of the notebook.  The other pages is on the right side.  I like them facing each other so they can see it all at once.

For some reason, I took two half-page pictures of the other page,
Update! (7/22/12)   Special thanks to Marilyn who emailed me the link she found for these Thinking Stems.  This link should take you to a Word document you can print out.  I believe they are from the Calhoun School District, but again not sure.  CLICK HERE TO GO TO DOCUMENT.

These thinking stems are good for helping my friends who have difficulty coming up with something to write.  I used them as a springboard when I modeled writing a reading response letter not just once, but twice for my friends. I will do more modeling of this as time goes on and I expect more from their letters.

After these pages, I still have two blank pages.  One is for a rubric that I have yet to put in their notebook.  That's one of the things I've not yet figured out to my satisfaction.  While the kids know what I'm looking for,  I want a rubric in their notebook. The problem is I can't find one that fits exactly what I want and I've been too lazy busy to just sit down and make my own.  I guess I'm going to have to just do it this weekend.

The rest of their notebook is filled with notes from our mini-lessons, their independent writing about their reading, and their weekly reading response letter to me.  It's actually all working pretty well so far, but I just have this gnawing feeling that I'm missing something. So, I'm throwing it out there to you! 

What are you doing with your reading notebooks?
What do your friends do with their notebooks?
Do you use a rubric? 
What and how are you assessing them? 
What's worked for you?


By the way, don't forget to ENTER MY THANK YOU GIVE AWAY!  There are only about 22 or so entries thus far, so the odds are pretty good!  You have also been leaving some great ideas for picture books to use in mini-lessons.  Click over and check out the comments.  Even if you don't enter, you will get some great picture book suggestions.

58 comments:

  1. Hi - it was me that asked for the thinking stems. Thank you for posting pictures of the sheet in the notebooks - I can copy out the info in the old fashioned way! By the way I think your reader's notebooks are really good. In a book you (and they) can see the progress they are making with their reading responses clearly.
    Thanks for this blog - it's such an inspiration!

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  2. After you create a rubric for the RNB,will you post it? I've been looking for a new one and your RNB looks a lot like mine.

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  3. Hi there! I LOVE your thinking stems and I plan to use them! I've been using the reader's notebook with 6-8th grade ESL students in Texas for 2 years now. I'm jumping in to using them at my new school in China this year! I've adapted some of the things that I do and have created a combined reader's and writer's notebook.

    Each week or every other week, the students write me a letter and I write them a full letter back. The students do all the work in my class--reading their books and writing their letters.

    In my notebook, I have a place for them to put books they are reading, books they want to read (complete with a place to put who recommended it to them and why it sounds interesting), an example letter, the letter writing format, possible letter topics, sentence starters, guideline for proofreading letters, 500 high frequency words, a rubric (that I tweaked), genres, a place for letters and responses, and a place for notes (complete with a table of contents). I had a lot of help from my friend and coworker, Jill, and my husband (who I also teach with), as well as the Fountas and Pinnell book on Guided Reading and Linda Reif's book on the Writer's-Reader's Notebook. Oh, and today I came across a great blog about thoughtful logs: http://lifein4b.blogspot.com/p/thoughtful-logs.html

    With the rubric, I'm looking for literal and inferential understanding, voice/interest, clear writing to express ideas, and use of conventions.

    I've also used the letters to get the students to respond to a story or novel we've read in class. They've used it to write letters to authors (and we actually mailed them!) and we have also made a section for all our literature circle work.

    I hope this helps!
    Kayla

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  4. Alex-I'm glad this was helpful.

    Jenkins - I will post the rubric, but not sure when I will get to it.

    Kayla - Just to be clear, these were someone's "Be an Active Reader" pages. They were not an original creation by me. I call them thinking stems since they are the beginning of our thinking. And, WOW! It's great reading what you do with your reader's notebooks. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I love your blog!!! So glad I found it.
    I love these thinking stems.....am I able to find a link to print these>? Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Hi Anon! Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you like the thinking stems, but I can't take credit for them. I actually found them on the web a couple of years ago. I am not posting a link to them because I can't find it! When I decided to use it this year, I went in search of them but couldn't find the site I got them from. I don't want to post a link if I can't give the author credit. I'm hoping by some miracle they wander by and drop a comment!

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  7. Thank you SO much!! I have been looking for a way to incorporate reading stratgies with choice independent reading when I only have my students half a day (bilingual school). This fits so well!

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  8. Hi Nancy, Do you have these pages in a word document and could you possibly post them? Thank you so much!

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    1. Hi Karen. I've had these for a while, so I've been making copies from a master I have. I will have to look and see if I have them buried in my computer somewhere!

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  9. Your blog is amazing! Thank you for sharing all your strategies and tips with everyone. I really appreciate it a lot and I will be borrowing many of your strategies to use in my classroom. I typed up the Thinking Stems you used. Is that okay? I also found some other, similar thinking stems on the net that you and/or your readers may appreciate: http://www.ctcurriculumdesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/RESPONSE-LOG-Revised-April-2011.pdf
    https://staff.rockwood.k12.mo.us/kerenselizabeth/compact/Documents/Active%20Reading%20Strategies.pdf

    I was curious about your (or others') thoughts on something. I was wondering whether I should put together all the "thinking stems" I found into a few pages for my students to refer to, or if "too many choices" would overwhelm the students.

    Any thoughts?

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    1. Hi Anon! I'm glad you posted a link to the stems you found. I know it will be helpful. As for putting all your thinking stems together, I would say it really depends on your kids and how you use them. If you have a "lower" group, it might be overwhelming to have so much to choose from. You can always give a category or two and add as you go along. Or, you can give them a few in each category, adding new stems in each category over time. If they are new to thinking stems, I would also suggest in the beginning assigning them a category to use for that days response. It will allow you to give them all at once, but focus the kids on a smaller set. It will also allow you to explain and work through all the different categories with them. Then, once done you can pull back and allow them to select freely. At that point, they have had a chance to get to know the questions and categories. I hope this make sense and is somewhat helpful! Thanks for reading my blog. :-)

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    2. I am a big fan of giving lots of choices, but I found with the students who where overwhelmed, I had to assign one chunk to pick from. I find that they also seem to stick with the same few all the time. I'm thinking this year, I'll have them cross them off as I use them so they have to expand their thinking a little more.
      Love this blog!

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  10. Hi, I did a google search and found the thinking stems:
    http://www.calhoun.k12.al.us/teacherpages/teacherfiles/Thinking%20Stems.docx

    Thanks for the idea!

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  11. Hi, Would you happen to have a copy of the thinking stems in a PDF format?
    Thanks so much!

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    1. I don't, sorry. I had mentioned that I found them online and tweaked. They were not mine. However, in the comment above yours (by Lynsey) she was able to find them and gives a link to them. You can download them and save them as a pdf. Good luck!

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  12. Hi Anon,
    I love your thinking stems...may I please have a copy of these ideas! I want to use this in the fall for a station. (:
    Thank you so much in advance!

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  13. Hi Nancy,

    I love your blog. I will be teaching 5th grade for the very first time in my teaching career. I'm excited but filled with much nervousness. I love your ideas for the reading notebooks. I will be using lots of interactive notebooking with my 5th grade friends. Keep up the good. Love IT!!

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  14. Another great idea! It's nice that your readers even added links to stems.
    There is so much for me to go through on your blog!
    Thanks again, Michelle

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  15. Did you find a rubric you like? If so could you post it or email it to me? I'd love to see it! I'm going to try this idea this year. Daniellec@bcaaustin.org

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  16. Love your blog! I can't wait to use so many of the ideas I found here!

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  17. Already working on using it this year! Awesome!

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  18. Hey Just wanted to say. For a rubric, I used to give a different rubric each grading period, but then finally just made one that incoporporated non-negotiables (remained as requirements throughout the year) and made blanks for the things that changed or added rather, each grading period. We used post it notes (I'd print the grading period and objective being assessed on the post-it) They'd stack them on top of each other as the year progressed.

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  19. I am starting more in depth reading journals this year with my class, and I am so excited to do it after reading everything you have to say about them. I hope they will give my students more ownership for their reading lives!

    myclassroomismyrunway.blogspot.com

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  20. Can you email me the thinking stems attachment? I cant open it :(

    suzanneswaney@yahoo.com

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    Replies
    1. Can I get a copy too? : ) The download wasn't working on my computer either. This looks like a great resource!

      mpuopolo4@gmail.com

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  21. This is Brandy from http://missalexandersclass.blogspot.com/ and I just wanted to say that I love your Thinking Stems. What a great idea to put them into the reading notebook so that they can respond each day. And thank you so much for posting the file for free. I am going to present it to our 3rd grade team to use, and I'll definitely be trying it. Great job!

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  22. I just read your Thinking Stems and I can't wait to use them in my class. Great Ideas.

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  23. Any updates on the rubric used?

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  24. I was just wondering what the "1-5 Rubric" is? I'm planning to use your ideas as a model for my own reading notebooks, and I've been struggling with finding a concise way to grade them quickly each week.

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  25. I AM OBSESSED WITH YOUR PAGE! It's like you are doing everything that I am. Can you please send my all the templates for your Reader's Notebook? Please!!!!!

    jdavison@harmonytx.org

    Thank you!!!!

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  26. How can I get to the thinking stem page?

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  27. can I get the thinking stem page? Do you share your My Reader's Notebook page also? pfoster1@hotmail.com

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  28. I'm thrilled I came upon your page!!! I am teaching (for the first time) 6th grade reading. I have found so many helpful ideas to implement in my classroom. I would be interested in know what other pages you put into your readers notebook, including your Rubric for letter responses. Could you please send them to me at Caceto04@hotmail.com. Thank you sooo much! You've got a friend indeed!!!

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  29. I just came across your blog and I LOVE it! I currently teach 5th grade in CA and I am loving all the helpful tips your page has! I'm curious regarding the reading notebook letters (we just started implementing readers workshop about 2 years ago . . . it continues to be a work in progress) . . . when do you sit down and read the letters? When do you require them to write them???

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  30. This is a great idea. I am wondering if you found the 1-5 rubric you use with it. Thanks so much.

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  31. COuld you please email the thinking stems file? I cant open it. :)
    ammyers@wsfcs.k12.nc.us

    Thanks

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  32. Amazing idea! Thank you so much for sharing! I have started using this in my classroom this year. Any luck with a rubric? I made one, but I find it is unclear.

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  33. Hi! GREAT site!
    I use a 25 point rubric - a possible of 0-5 points in each of 5 categories:
    PROPER LETTER FORMAT (date, greeting, body, at least 2 pgphs, closing signature)
    CONVENTIONS (mostly correct spelling, cap, punct, s-v agreement, complete sentences, etc; titles underlined, author's name included
    RESPONDS TO MINILESSON/STRATEGY FOCUS/TEACHER'S QUESTION
    TELLS SPECIFIC THINGS ABOUT THE BOOK (char, setting, problem, solution, main ideas/details, most important part, most interesting part, etc)
    YOUR THINKING ABOUT THE BOOK (how the book makes you feel, connections you made text-text/text-self/text-world, what you want to remember/learn, what the author is trying to say -- basically, anything from the thinking stems list)

    I have my students respond to the minilesson or my question in the first paragraph, then respond to one thinking stem in the second paragraph. Fourth graders seem able to handle this after a few weeks of modeling/feedback/reinforcement, and they like doing it! I love being able to "chat" with my students when I write a personal response back to their entries. It's time consuming but well worth it!

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    1. New follower!!! And I am loving every moment of the site!!! Or post was very very helpful,and I will use the notebook idea and this rubric. Yay!!!!! Its great to have so many gifted teachers to read about and learn new strategies when you are a first year teacher.

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  37. I would like a copy of your "Thinking Stems" document as well. I can't down load it either, Thanks in advance. My e-mail is s.guida@rrcsa.org

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  38. I am actually wondering about your weekly letters. I totally took this idea and implemented it in my classroom this school year. I am now running into the problem that parents are not happy with a weekly letter. They feel like it's "too much" writing. Have you had this issue? Any suggestions?

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    1. Christine,

      I also found for my 5th grade class, that one letter per week was too much....for them and also for me! I decided to do one letter every three weeks, but the letter had to be at least 2 pages long. (See Nancie Atwell's book "The Reading Zone" for ideas.) They could choose to write the letter to me, or to a friend in class. Either way, I still read and graded the letter, and then passed it on to the friend to read and respond to, if needed. Doing one letter every three weeks meant that they were only writing their letter once they had finished a book, which I also liked because that gave them more to draw from for their letter. I also gave them time in class to work on their letters as well, which would help with the complaints from parents, I'm guessing. Good luck this next school year!

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  39. I would love a copy of your thinking stems as well, can't download it. E-mail is: gwen297@yahoo.com
    Thanks so much for sharing!

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  40. Do you have the pages you glue in your notebooks on a word document or PDF? I would love to use them!

    varney_e@aps.edu

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    1. Hi Elissa,
      I don't have the pages available for sharing right now. Sorry about that!

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  41. Thank you so much for inspiring me today! This site is full of so much great information and just what I needed to start getting ready for next year.

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    1. Glad you like my blog, Karen. Thanks for reading!

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  42. What does your rubric look like? Can you post a pic or a link

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  43. I was wondering what your rubric looked like? Love your site and all the useful info!

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  44. Hi there,

    I really loved what you got for your Reader's Notebook. I was wondering if I could use all those documents for my class. This helps me create an organized picture for my Reader's Workshop class.

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    1. Hi Anon, I'm actually working on putting together a pack of printables for the reader's notebook, but it is not ready at this time.

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  45. This is the best page I've found in a while!! Thank you!!!!

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  46. I love your blog! Thank you for sharing and inspiring. Do you write your friends back each week in their Reader's Notebooks? My teaching partner and I are trying to do that, but weekly proves a challenge. We have 50 students each and teach ELA/Social Studies. Any suggestions?

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    1. Thanks so much for reading my blog. As for my reading letters, weekly letters can definitely be a challenge. I can see no problem with doing them every other week. If you have just 5 turned in each day, the responding goes quickly. If you feel the letter writing is important and want to do it weekly, you can still require they write weekly but turn in the notebook every other week. Honestly, the letters are just one small component of all the reading instruction you do. It is okay if it isn't done every week! There were times where I would cancel collection of notebooks for a week simply because I was so swamped with other work. It's never a perfect situation and sometimes you just have to make it work as best you can!

      As for reading, I do feel it is important to respond to their letters. That's the one thing I always make time for. If they are putting the effort in (key word is effort, they can't turn in quickly done fluff!) then I feel it is only fair to respond to them. However, it doesn't have to be a lengthy return letter. I have often gone with a quick response telling them something they did well and asking a question that forces them to think deeper. I look for a response to that question in their next entry/letter. I just want them to see that their thinking and writing matters and is being read and thought about.

      If they are writing more than one letter before you respond, you can just address them both in your one response. You don't need to write a separate response for each letter they write.

      Having said all that, those are just my ideas. You and your teaching partner have to make it work for you. Every class and every situation is different. As long as they are learning, you can't go wrong!

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