Responding to Reading!

How important is responding to reading for you as a teacher? I used to not put much emphasis on it, I actually found it time-consuming and rather redundant, but after doing some research on the topic...I realized it is crucial for students to gain understanding while reading any text. 

Organizing it is simple and won't take much effort on your part as the teacher. Once it is organized, the students are independent in this and they are doing meaningful reading and THINKING while reading. 

Here is how I organize it in my room, but you can do whatever works for you! I hope these tips help though!

Each child has a journal in my room. We title it "Reading Response Journal." lol...I know, step back...we got super creative with the journal name. :) Students choose a book each week to read from and respond weekly to me in their journals. 

Our school has an incentive so my kids earn their jeans for Friday (we are a uniform school) based on their responses. 

I teach 75 fifth graders...I need organization to stay sane! lol. So my I have crates in my room. They turn their journal into the "Turned in Journals" crate, and they pick them up in the "Graded Journals" crate (after they have been checked by me!)

I love this system, it keeps me completely organized and the students independent in turning in and picking up their journals. Much less, "Mrs. Kiser, where is my journal, did you grade it yet?" 

The students have access to a number of materials for generating response resource I love is these Reading Bookmarks

I just added these to my store, but have been using them in my classroom for a while. I even used them in 3rd grade. Now, because I have 75 kids, I do not give EACH CHILD a set. Wow, that would be a lot. But I do have many available in my classroom for them to use if they are having trouble thinking of questions to respond to about their text. 

The students must choose 3 questions, and each question has to be from a different topic. Here is what the response bookmarks look like!

And just for fun, I will take you through my process for creating these. It's mind Okay, not really, it is super simple! 

Just print these out (they are free) and then cut each of them apart. In order to have different colors on each topic...I print 8 pages of the black and white. Each page being a different color. Then when I cut them out, they are all different colors. 

Then arrange them how you want them. (Different colors for each skill in each set.) Then hole punch the corner of each set. 

Binder rings are super cheap on Amazon or at Walmart. I just have a package of 200 lying around at all times. lol. Place a binder ring in them a you are done!

The kids love the different colors and love using these!

Here is a better look at each skill! (Asking Questions is pictured in the above pictures on the front.)

Here is a set of the finished product! 

Now, I know what you are thinking...why are they called bookmarks? Well...when I taught 3rd grade, I used them in a bookmark way. I recreated a picture (with a 5th-grade book) to show you what they look like as a bookmark. Or you can just print individual skills and give those to the kids as bookmarks.

Finally, when the students respond and turn in their journals...they have meaningful thoughts and reactions to their books. Here are some student examples!

I truly hope this has helped! I love having students respond to their reading at any age! I believe it is very important! 

Have a great week, and Happy Teaching!

Test Prep Encouragement! (And a Freebie!)

How many of you are starting to prepare for those "tests?" Yeah...that four-letter word...TESTS! We have our state standardized tests coming up in  2 weeks. Yikes...two weeks. I really hate the way we put so much emphasis test scores. I mean, I try not to worry...but in the has a large impact on how the kids feel about themselves...and well, how teachers feel about themselves. 

But when the day is done, we know that we did all we can do and we hope *pray* for the best! I always tell my kids, I want them to JUST DO THEIR BEST! I believe giving them that little gem each and every day may help with the test anxiety. There are other ways to help them too though!

Each year, (usually in April because I have always taught 3rd grade until now) I put together bags for the kids and send a letter home to parents. The bag is a "Survival Kit" for the kids! The letter is a letter explaining how important it is for their child to get a good night's sleep, eat a hearty breakfast and for the parents to be encouraging to their children. 

**Side rant...I HATE when parents upset their children on the day of the standardized test! I have had kids come in crying because their mom threw their breakfast out the window and called them stupid. Really? Yeah, let's try to overcome that one in 5 minutes.** Rant Over. :)

Here is my preparation for these bags. I haven't stuffed all of them yet...but I am in the process.

I print the letter on colored paper and the tags on colored paper (the tags for the Survival Kit will go on the bags that contain the Survival Kit items.) The tags are super cute if printed on white paper because the borders and clipart are in color...but I just liked doing mine on colored cardstock. :)

Cut the tags apart! Easy Peasy!

My favorite part, write a sweet message on each bag! I buy the white lunch sacks from Amazon! $5 for 40 of them! Then I can save the rest for Valentine's Day or whatever else I need them for!

Now, I am ready to start stuffing! Make sure you write your message while they are empty! lol. I have made that mistake...twice. *whomp whomp.*

These are super cheap to make too! For all of the Survival Kit items (for 25 kids) I spent $9 dollars! 
**Special Note...the "hugs" are actually Hershey fifth grade boys might have died if I gave them a "kiss." lol. 

So there you have it! I send the note home the night before the test and the bags are on their desks when they arrive at school! Even if they did have a bad morning...this usually cheers them up! 

Pro Tip: Have the students put the bags on the floor or far far away DURING the test. The students do not need to be digging through the bags during the test. *crinkle...crinkle...all morning long.*

I hope you find this as useful as I do! Also, most people are good with the letter I already have written, but I can easily provide you with an editable version. E-mail me at!

Otherwise, grab this free item in my store! 

Happy Teaching!

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