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  • by Laura Sarsten

Stirring Up Interest for Writing About Reading

"How many Post-its do you want us to do?” “Should we be stopping and jotting today too, or should we just read?” I am certain that many of us have heard one of these questions before, or ones similar to these, from readers in our rooms (I certainly have!). The question then left swirling in our minds as teachers is,

“How can we cultivate excitement surrounding writing about our reading, encourage depth, and elicit a true purpose behind responding to informational reading?”

In my recent work with teachers, we have been discussing the importance of moving beyond factual recall and fact listing and encouraging readers to find a wide range of depth, thought, and inspiration for writing about information. Whether we teach social studies, science, or we are adventuring into an informational unit in reading and writing workshop, learners typically demonstrate confidence in extracting new learnings, but tend to get stuck when trying to move beyond that. As teachers, we can find ways to create a space for everyone to write to think, write to grow, write to extend, write to challenge, and write to develop their own ideas surrounding the informational topics they encounter.

It is sometimes challenging to stir up interest when it comes to writing about your reading, however if we spend the time discussing the power behind it learners can grow excitement around this experience. Cultivating the habit of being interested can be truly motivating for the learner, therefore we must think about the ways that we are nurturing and encouraging open-ended curiosity. When we are curious, interested, and invested than we are more likely to look up and notice our new learning.

Some experiences that can stir up interest for writing about informational reading:

  • Use Pam Allyn’s quote, “Reading is like breathing in...and writing is like breathing out!” ask students, “What do you think this quote is really saying and how might it relate to our own learning? Why is reading and writing both such essential pieces to our learning?”

  • Relaunch the Reading Notebook and personalize it so it illustrates some of the student’s passions and interests revolving around the world of information, perhaps renaming it “_______’s Research Notebook”

  • Readers can reflect by thinking about:

  • “What comes natural for you when it comes to writing about reading…”

  • “What presents a struggle or challenge…”

  • “Is there something about writing about your reading that you shy away from...why?”

  • “How might you use writing about your reading differently than you have in the past..”

This is the first blog in a series called "Bringing Research to Life" by literacy consultant Laura Sarsten.

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