Saturday, August 31, 2013

Using Task Cards for Reading Response

I have always been a big believer in having kids respond to reading--thoughtful, defensible, evidence-based responses.  When I taught 3rd grade, I created reading response packets and novel studies for almost every book we were reading.  These were great because students would stop after each chapter and answer a variety of questions.  However, when I would turn the tables on them and ask them to write a question to accompany their reading, it was very hard for them to think beyond the literal questions and dig a little bit deeper.  Beyond that, when I had small groups reading shorter, leveled books for intentional skill work, I felt like I needed some good, solid questions to use for discussion.  Ideally, I wanted to be able to use these freely, with any book I chose, and with any group I was working with.  That's when I created a set of open-ended reading response cards on large index cards.  These were different, though, because they had blanks that students would need to fill in based on the book they were reading.

I blogged about these cards on my other blog, Teaching With a Mountain View, and when I did that, I typed them up so that I could share them (You can get them FREE here!).

I use these ALL the time.  They sit in my guided reading basket, and sometimes I even pull them out after I finish a read aloud for the day.  I love to see where student thinking is with these!  They are also great for getting students to start asking their own questions about reading in a more guided format. I don't even require that students write down their responses every time, especially in small groups.  I will give each of the students in a small group a card, and they generate the question and their answer all in their head and then share out.  Love doing this as a quick check!

I also use task cards for pre-reading activities!  I will give each student one of twelve pre-reading task cards (You can get them FREE here!) before we start reading and have them each work through it.  Most of them are made to only take 5 minutes or less, so then the students share out their card and their response to the card, and as a class, we have completed a comprehensive pre-reading activity!

Last year, we used both of these cards so much that I knew I needed something different, and I knew that I needed something that aligned closely with the Common Core and with the skills we were working on. There are a lot of reading response prompts out there (and some are excellent), but I needed something that would really push my students to think.  I needed to create something that the students would read, sit back and think about, and then read again before being able to answer the questions.

At the time, we were looking closely at story elements, so I decided to create the set to support that skill.  Again, I wanted a set that I could use over and over again so that students could really see some common themes in books.

This set has cards for Problem & Solution, Characters, Setting, and Theme
Later in the year, I made another set that focused on specific reading skills we were working on.  I so wished I would have made these YEARS ago!  These task cards have different prompts for skills like inferring, cause & effect, sequencing, etc.  I am already looking forward to using these again this year with some TAG 3rd graders who I will be supporting once a week outside of the classroom and then students all the way up to my 5th graders.  It's the perfect way to extend their thinking and not necesarily isolate these ever-important reading skills.

This set has cards for Fact & Opinion, Author's Purpose, Main Idea, Point of View, Compare & Contrast, Inference, and Cause & Effect
I really wanted my students to be able to access these cards easily, so I actually ended up making each student their own set of mini task cards to keep in their binders.  Now, I can give them some guided choice in their responses and it's FAST! Last week, after talking about inference, I said "Everyone select an inference response task card and write your response in your reading journal."  They all grabbed their set and went to work.  It was fabulous!

6 pages condensed into one 1.5.  This is a great way to save on ink and paper, too!
Easy peasy to print a mini set!

Here is a comparison of how much smaller the cards are than a regular quarter page task card.
I also have two other sets of Reading Skills Task Cards that I can vouch for because they are WONDERFUL:

Common Core Reading Response Task Cards (4th Grade) by Laura Love to Teach

If you have a set that you have used or made, feel free to link to them in the comments section of this post.  I am ALWAYS looking for new and fresh ways for my students to respond to reading!

NEW:  Here is the link to the website I used to order my chains.  They came very quickly, and they are just about as cheap as I could find them!