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Comprehension Thinking Sheet

I have updated my comprehension thinking sheet so that it will have the comprehension strategies that the kids are to be using while reading AND the literary elements/devices that we are studying and writing about this year. All of this information is now at the bottom of the comprehension thinking sheet. For a better explanation of how we use these in our classroom read this post:

To print the comprehension thinking sheet click here:

Comprehension Thinking Sheet

Hopefully, this will be a friendly reminder to them when they are completing the sheet as they read AND embed these strategies/elements into their little brains. 🙂



Reading is thinking (hopefully)

I believe we should teach this from day 1. READING IS THINKING. Reading comprehension at the 6th grade level is supposed to be so much higher level than the previous years. It’s not just about retelling the story or remembering what  the story was about. It’s thinking while you read. It’s predicting before you read and while you read. It’s making connections between what you are reading and yourself, or the world, or another text. It’s being able to visualize what’s going on in the text so that you feel like you are a part of it! It’s wondering about things as you read, asking questions of your character’s feelings, thoughts, and actions. It’s inferring what the author meant even though the author didn’t SAY it. It’s using your schema before you read and while you read to understand the literal meanings of the text as well as the underlying meanings. It’s synthesizing while you read-understanding when you need to change your thinking about the text. It’s ALL those things and more. Can I just say that these are hard things to accomplish? 🙂

SO-the only homework that I assign my kids each night is to read for at least 15 minutes (the book of their choice) and to complete 1 box of our comprehension thinking sheet. Here is the actual sheet that they will have totally completed(in a perfect world-sigh) by Friday each week.

Comprehension Thinking Sheet

They get to choose which box they want to complete each night. For the past several weeks I had them all use and write about the same comprehension strategy-so 1 week they had to write about making connections in both comprehension boxes, the next week they had to write about visualizing, and so forth. Beginning this week, they can write about any comprehension strategy that they actually used while reading.

This past Friday I gave them a blank comprehension thinking sheet, and they had to complete it for a reading assessment grade. I took last week to go over it AGAIN with them to make sure that they understood what I was expecting of them-lots of deep thinking, reflecting, and writing.

Here is a picture of one of my student’s sheets from Friday about the book Love, Aubrey.

 There are 2 boxes to write about comprehension strategies they used while reading, 1 box to write their thoughts and reflections about their book, and 1 box to write about a literary element(plot, setting, character, etc).

 Here is a closeup of a strategy box.

I’m hoping that the more we read and the more we write about what we read and the more we read….. the better thinkers we will become! 🙂

So, just in case you can’t read what this one student wrote I am going to type it below for you! PLEASE let me know what you think about this overall process/assignment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Book-Love, Aubrey

Box 1-Comprehension Strategy

“In this book, Love, Aubure, Aubrey is a main character and the part that I am reading is where Bridgette jumps on top of Aubrey and Aubrey yelling “Stop”. I can see Bridgette looking with a weird expression on her face and then start laughing with Aubrey laughing with her.”

Box 2-Comprehension Strategy

“In this book, Bridgette, Aubrey, and Grams are the main characters who live close by each other and are very good friends. Bridgette moved by Grams during the winter and Aubrey moved in with Grams not too long ago. When Aubrey moved in it was almost time to go to school. The question that I am asking myself is does she like school?”

Box 3-Reflections/Thoughts

“I love this book  Love, Aubrey because it is very exciting but sad. It is exciting because you never know what’s going to happen next. This book is sad because Aubrey lost her sister and father in a car wreck and her mother has just abandoned her.”

Box 4-Literary Elements/Devices

” My main character is Aubrey. Aubrey has a lot going on in her life and school makes it harder. But three things that keeps her going is Grams, Bridgette, and Sammy her pet fish. Gram keeps her safe with a house and food. Bridgette makes her feel like she can do anything. And Sammy gave her company.”

What do you think? Are we on our way to becoming critical readers and thinkers? My 6th graders are NOT used to writing about their reading before they get to 6th grade (according to them).

Read and Write 180-Day 16

Thursday-September 1st, 2011

I just want to say that I have some students who are really thinking and writing some good things on their comprehension thinking sheet about their books! 🙂 I haven’t read everyone’s, but of the ones who have shared they are all either doing great or headed in the right direction. I really think that EVERYONE is going to be making lots of progress this year with their reading/thinking/writing!

We talked about the last 3 words of our “word study” word for the week: love, positive attitude, and self-control, 2 of which I hope to see a lot of this year! 🙂

We reviewed before we took our english test by labeling words in a loooong sentence. This will get easier as the year goes on because when I start my “Daily Grammar Practice” they will be labeling words in a different sentence each week-along with sentence types, clauses, phrases, etc. To read more about the DGP for this year check out this page: We will begin our DGP after I finish reviewing and introducing ALL of our english concepts/skills for the year-probably around week 6 or 7 of school.

I can’t wait to grade today’s english tests-well, let me rephrase that-I can’t wait to see the grades from today’s english tests! That’s more like it! 🙂 Lots of kids had REALLY good grades last week!!!!

I felt sorry for the kids today because they had to sit for so long. I just had so much to go over with them-I can’t wait til I have shown them all of these “things” that I will be expecting of them this year so that we can establish our other “fun” routines for the year-the choice work they’ll be doing each day, the small group and individual instruction. All of this will allow them move around the room more!!

These are the things that I had to go over with them (I know I will have to continue to review these things with them/support them, but the 1st go around is sooooo long!!):

Comprehension Thinking Sheet-I went over the 4th box with them. This is the one where they have to choose a literary element or literary device to write about.

Literary Elements-plot, characters, setting, etc

Literary Devices-simile, metaphor, personification, etc

I think I need to make a reference sheet with all of the above and explanations and examples. Goodness knows it’s hard enough for a teacher to keep up with, much less a student! 🙂

I gave them the reading response rubric to put in their notebooks. A rubric is a grading reference so they will know EXACTLY what is expected of them in their reading response letters each week. Here is the rubric:

Reading Response Rubric

Tomorrow I will help them (guide them) write their 1st reading response letter. I divided the class into groups to turn in their reading response notebooks each week. This way I won’t be reading and grading ALL of them at one time! 🙂 The students have student numbers -alphabetically. So here is the schedule of when they will be due each week.





Let the work begin!!! 🙂

We learned about thin and thick questions today. They really got it! Thin questions are the easy, literal questions. Thick questions require you to think more-they require higher level critical thinking! Here are 2 examples that we came up with for our reading passage this week.

Thin-Who is the main character in our reading passage?

Thick-What does the title “Leaving Her Mark” mean to you?

We will work with thick questions ALL year-on tests that require them to answer these types of questions, but more importantly when they generate their own questions during their reading. I explained to them that when they ask questions while they read they are wondering which keeps them engaged in the text-makes them interested in what they are reading.

Can’t wait til tomorrow-FRIDAY!:)

Read and Write 180-Day 15

Today’s post may be short since I went out to eat at 5, played BUNCO until 10, and am finally getting around to writing this post at 10:54 pm! 🙂

We went over4 more of our word study words today-fortitude, justice, and 2 more that my brain just won’t let me remember right now!!!!

We reviewed adverbs today in English (these are usually the hardest parts of speech!!!). We watched the grammar house rock video twice, added the definition to our web graphic organizer, and wrote examples of adverbs. Here is the link to the school tube video:

We are having our English test tomorrow-we had A LOT of great grades on the English test last week!!!!!! I was so proud of them! I tried to give some hints on the test that I JUST made up for tomorrow!!! My goal when testing is NOT to trip kids up, but to have the tests actually be a teaching/remediation/reinforcing tool!!! I’m going to try and review with some of my students who did not do well last week while I let the other kids review among themselves. It’s very important that they understand/know the parts of speech since we will work with them ALL year.

We finished practicing our open ended response on our passage-“Leaving Her Mark”. I can’t wait to see how they do this Friday on that part of our reading test.

We took notes on 2 of the comprehension strategies that we have worked with this week-1. Activating our schema(background knowledge) and 2. Visualizing

I talked to them about how to complete the third box of their comprehension thinking sheet for homework. This 3rd box is the “Thoughts/Reflections” box. They have to write about their thoughts and reflections on the book they are reading. Here is an example of what I would like to see:

“I really like 6th Grade Can Really Kill You because it makes me laugh some, and I can sympathize with Helen’s character. I can feel her embarrassment about her problem with reading. It’s easy for me to visualize the things that are happening in the story. I would recommend this book to all students since it’s not complicated to read, and they could probably make some connections when they are reading. I can’t wait to finish this book to see if Helen does pass the 6th grade. I hope she learns how to read better.”

We read Chapter 6-Shooting the Duck today in our read aloud. We shared our predictions-it’s funny to see the kids’ reactions when they realize that they predicted right or missed it! 🙂

I gave out my homework explanation sheet today so the kids and the parents will know what to expect with homework and tests for the WHOLE year. My homework routine will stay the same ALL year! Here is a copy of the homework sheet I gave them:

6th Grade Homework word

OK-it’s 11:08 pm, and I’m about to finish grading the reading tests from last week. 🙂


Read and Write 180-Day 14

I really want to write this post, but Law and Order-SVU is on!!! I’m a little distracted. 🙂

I checked our homework that they did for the first time last night-45 out of 47 kids did it! WOW! Some of them shared what they wrote-VERY GOOD! All they need to work on is to “describe” their visualizations a little more. I told them to describe what they are visualizing so that someone else can picture it in their mind, too. Their homework was to complete a comprehension strategy box on their thinking sheet. I was really proud of what they wrote (the ones who shared)-I’ll let different students share tomorrow. Also, I have to give credit for this thinking sheet idea to this fabulous resource:

 Their reading box sheets are far more elaborate than the one that I made-my kids are not used to this type of thinking, reflecting, and writing yet so I want to start small. PLUS-I don’t want them to spend MORE time completing the boxes than READING! 🙂 But this book is an excellent teacher resource book!

We went over our first 3 words for the week-evaluate, formulate, and analyze.

We reviewed articles and adjectives in English. Articles are sooooo easy-they are ALWAYS: a, an, the. They never change! We added the definitions for articles and adjectives to our graphic organizer and then watched the schooltube grammar rock video on adjectives. One of my boys said, “You know, I can’t help it-these songs just stick in my head.” LOL! Here is the link to the video on adjectives:

Then we labeled more words in our sentence-the interjections and prepositions from yesterday.

We read our passage-“Leaving Her Mark”. We did cloze reading which is where I read aloud and then stop and let them fill in a word every now and then-supposed to keep them following along and engaged in what we are reading. Then I showed them (again) how to answer an open ended question. This is our question that we are practicing with:

How did Molly leave her mark? I’m trying to explain to them how to answer questions like this with our RAPS method:

R-restate question     A-answer question(all parts)     P-prove your answer using evidence from text      S-sum it all up (conclusion)

This method will help them with our reading tests AND the spring state ARMT test. I think it will also help them answer ANY test questions-not just open ended. If they get comfortable with looking back in the text to find evidence to support their answers, they will also be able to easily do this with any kinds of questions-multiple choice, fill in blank, etc.

We did the restating part today and 1 answer with proof. I can’t remember exactly how I showed them on the board(they were copying while I was showing them), but this is sort of what we did today.

QUESTION-How did Molly leave her mark?

ANSWER (so far-will finish tomorrow)-There are two ways that Molly left her mark. One way is when she left a smile in the dirt when she walked. In the passage, the author stated that the doctors put a smile symbol on the bottom of her horseshoe so when she walked she left a smile mark on the ground.

We will finish tomorrow by also writing: Another way that Molly left her mark was by making the kids smile at the hospital. In the 5th paragraph of the passage the author said that the children were amazed that a horse could have a prosthetic leg. Molly gave them hope for themselves. These are the two ways that Molly left her mark.

I really want them to be able to back up everything they answer AND just everything they think. So, when we are discussing things and they give an answer or thought or opinion I also want to know why. They need to know “why” they think something!

They got to listen to another chapter of our read aloud-boy do they love for me to read to them. AND we get some GREAT thinking out of this time! 🙂 We continued to talk about predictions, and we also talked about making connections. They had to “try” to make a connection to a part of the chapter. There are 3 different kinds of connections they can make:

1. Text to self-this is the easiest kind for them to make-they connect something they read back to themselves-maybe something that has happened to them

2. Text to world-they connect something they read to something that is going on in the world

3. Text to text-they connect something they read to something else they have read

We also talked a little more about schema-their background knowledge about a topic. We all have new schema about prosthetics-we now know that a horse can have a prosthetic leg. So we have added to our schema. I told them that when we have a lot of schema about a topic and then read about it, it is easier for us to comprehend! Little schema about something makes it harder for us to comprehend what we read.

I also explained to them (again) that reading is thinking. They have GOT to think as they read for it to be “real reading”. Here is the poster that I made to give them a visual.

 READING IS THINKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is my overall goal for them this year-think while they read!!! Active reading!

Some people think that when kids answer questions at the end of what they have read that this is teaching reading comprehension. NO-it’s not-that is only “assessing” comprehension! 🙂