Monday, August 31, 2015

Scaffolding Reading Notebooks

This is my third year in 3rd grade.  I taught 3rd a while ago but most of my experience is in grades 4 and 5. I have some experience in primary and last year I realized that my 3rd grade Reading Workshop was a bit too intermediate for my early third graders. They seemed to need a more primary workshop. I thought long and hard about a lot of my practices and how to better support some of my younger readers who needed more time for oral language and more support in comprehension.  Last year, we visited Emily Collins' amazing 2nd grade classroom in our district.  We were lucky to see the entire reading workshop and see the amazing work her students did.  Our visit and the conversations I've had with Emily and others since that time helped me think about the best ways to support these transitional readers in grades 2 and 3--readers who aren't quite primary, but aren't quite intermediate, either.

For years I've seen the power in kids keeping a Readers' Notebook but I really struggle with what that looks like in 3rd grade.  Sometimes we jump in and the first part of the year is chaos as kids need more time to notice their thinking and talk through their thinking before they are ready to write much.

So, this year, I am using a mini-notebook for the first several weeks of school. This is a notebook that we'll use during read aloud and reading mini lessons to keep track of our thinking in writing and sketches. It seems to be a good size and not overwhelming for kids--the page size makes it very inviting for all readers.  We are taking time to stop and jot as well as time to stop and talk. We are learning and charting different ways we think during our reading.

Next week, we'll add cards or sticky notes for kids to begin to track their thinking during independent reading time also (another idea from Emily).  And we'll do lot of talking during share time about the places they marked and the thinking they did.

After a few weeks of playing with writing about reading in these ways, when everyone has had time to play and learn in a notebook that is fun and accessible, we'll move into reading notebooks with an understanding of what is possible.  In the meantime, we'll use these pages to see what is possible.

This is a little thing but it already seems like a little change that is going to make a big difference for my early 3rd graders.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this!! Last year was my first year in 3rd after teaching 5th and 4th for several years. This will be a perfect way to start. I hadn't started with Reader's Notebooks yet because it was too much for them. I can't thank you enough!!

  2. When I transferred to my students using memo-sized reading logs, they were more eager to sketch and write about their thinking and share with their peers.

  3. Dear Franki,
    Your posts always seeming to be so timely for me. Thanks for helping me just when I need it! Last year was my first year in 3rd grade after teaching 2nd grade for awhile. I have also taught first and fourth. While I teach at an intermediate school of Grade 3-6, I think we forget way back in the day, didn't we consider 3rd grade primary? They definitely do come in more primary and we third grade teachers turn them into intermediate students. I used post it notes almost exclusively in second grade and moved some of my readers into a notebook by the end of second grade. While I do have a marble notebook we use for our reader's notebook in third grade, we will start out using post it notes ( the bigger ones that are 4 by 4 inches) for a while. And of course lots of scaffolding and modeling when beginning with the notebook. And definitely we need to remember to talk about our reading first. In second grade I had reading partners which gave students the opportunities to talk about their reading first. I often partnered my third graders last year, but I'm thinking about creating more formal reading or thinking partners this year.In second grade I had built in partner reading time. I'm thinking about adding partner talk maybe 2 times a week. I really think the talk leads to better reading responses/ writing about reading.


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