Recently my friend Barbara Daniels, who is an excellent poet, generously sent along an incredibly helpful list of 180 activities for students to choose from while working on independent reading.
Here are the first five:
- What’s in a Name? With your group, make up as many questions as possible based only on the titles of your books. Mark the questions you think you will be able to answer from the books with a plus sign and those that probably can’t be answered from the books with a minus sign. Discuss: How much can you tell about your books from the titles alone? Which of the titles are the best ones?
- Raising Questions Read the material on the covers of your book and any additional material such as a preface that is inside the book. Skim the list of chapters, and turn through to glance at illustrations and at the first sentences in some of the paragraphs. Based on what you find, make a list of ten questions about your book. Read to find the answers to these questions, jotting down what you find.
- A Letter to Your Teacher Write a letter explaining what you read today and what you think or feel about it. If you would like your teacher to answer your letter, write “Please respond” at the top of the first page. If you don’t write this, your teacher will read your letter but not write an answer to it.
- Pick a Sentence From what you read today, choose a sentence or longer passage that you consider interesting or important. Write about your choice in a journal entry. Then read your sentence to the class and explain why you consider it interesting or important.
- Reading How-Tos What do you already know about how to understand and remember what you read? Write a paragraph of at least five sentences in which you describe the reading strategies that have worked for you in the past and that you might want to try in the future. Be ready to share your ideas with your group.