Don't Reprimand Your Students Who Doodle. They are Learning.

Do you have students who are constantly hunched over, copiously doodling while you are lecturing in front of the classroom?  Does it drive you nuts because you think they are not paying attention? Think again.  Please, do not yell at your students who doodle.

I am a person who constantly doodles, sketches, and draws on ANYTHING.  I always have, and I am sure some of you can relate with me.  I remember sitting in Spanish class in middle school, and in the margin of my Spanish notes were doodles of flowers, stars and designs.  I doodle/d on everything!   On my worksheets, on the front of my binder, and today, I will doodle on sticky notes or paper when I am on the phone or listening intently. You should see my faculty meeting agendas! Most teachers would think that doodling is mindless and information is not being retained, but think again.

I can recollect six years ago, when I had a highly-functioning autistic child in my class.  Throughout the entire class, this student did not take one ounce of notes, but drew, sketched, and created vast landscapes all over my note taking pages.  At first, like any teacher, I was frustrated and insulted that he found my class boring, and he did not have enough respect to follow my directions; however, it was quite the opposite.  When we would go back and review the information presented, this student was on point with every answer, his hand flying in the air to answers many of my questions.  Though he didn't take detailed notes, he comprehended and retained everything that I had taught the class, and he DOODLED the entire time.  Believe it or not, for some students, doodling is a form of thinking, learning, comprehending and processing information.

Reading Notebooks in the Middle School Classroom-PART III

Hi Everyone!

I hope that your week has been productive!  This past week, Long Island schools were out for another snow day.  I do not know about you, but ever since the clocks went ahead, I am for sure ready for spring.

I am very happy with how the reading notebooks are going in my 7th grade classroom.  This week, students worked on Reader Response Questions, read the next 13 pages in their books, worked on a reading log, were introduced to a new mini-lesson, and completed a group activity.

I have been creating all the notes in Google Slides, and I can easily project items right up on the SmartBoard.  Take the Reader Response questions the students answered this week.  I choose questions I figured all the students who have read about in the first 13 pages of their book-setting, characters, inference, and personal response.

Reading Notebooks in the Middle School Classroom-Part II

Hi Everyone!

I hope your Monday if off to a great start!  Long Island is anticipating a blizzard tomorrow, so it looks like I will not have school tomorrow.  This means I will be adding a day onto one of my breaks at some point (😡).

Last week my 7th grade students really dove into their reading notebooks.  As I mentioned in my last post, my students are reading three different books, and I was not all that sure how this was going to work out in the classroom.  I was anticipating a little bit of chaos, but so far, it has been working out fairly well!  ALL my students are completely engaged in their books!

Here is how last week went:

Monday:  My students assembled their notebooks, adding their tabs and cover.  If you would like a copy of the tabs, here is the link:
Tuesday:  We went over the reading log expectations, and my students took notes on their first mini-lesson, "Reading Notebook Structure".  I wanted my students to understand what was expected of them and how I would run the periods.

Wednesday:  I began the period by going over the students' second mini-lesson, "Analyzing a Title".  Take a look at the image below of one of my student's notebooks and notes.  
Following, ALL of my students read the first 13 pages of their novel, which worked out for me because it covered one or two chapters in their novels.  While reading, they completed a reading log.

If you would like a template for this reading log, grab it here:

Thursday/Friday:  I then went over the Reader Response section with my students, and my students glued in the reader response pages.  Check them out below:

The great part about reader response questions is that you can ask the students to answer any number that you want them to answer, and it gives the students choice!  For the first reader response questions, I had my students answer the essential question about the title from the mini-lesson.  I also had them answer a question about setting, making a prediction and drawing a conclusion, being that they only read the exposition of the novel.

I hope this has been helping you gather ideas for reading notebooks at the middle school level.  If you missed my Part I of this series, check it out here: PART I

Enjoy your week!

Reading Notebooks in the Middle School Classroom-Part 1

Hi Everyone!

I hope your March is off to a great start, and before we know it, it will be summer break!  I don't know about you, but this year is flying for me.

I am about to start something new with my 7th grade students this upcoming week: Reading Notebooks.  Reading notebooks are often found at the elementary level, but I have been spending some time tweeking (and planning) the elementary version to fit the middle school classroom.

How Did This Begin?

After wrapping up our first novel of the year, I wanted to give my 7th graders an opportunity to choose their next book.  I have two 7th grade classes who are unmotivated readers.  I get a lot of, "uggghhhss", when we read; therefore, I said to them, "How would you like the opportunity to choose your next book?"  My students really liked this idea, so I chose three high-interest novels the students could choose.  I didn't want the students to choose any book, but books that I have read before, so I could keep track of their reading and have conversations with my students.  The books I chose were: Touching Spirit Bear, Inventing Elliot, and Fever, 1793. If you have never read these books, they are perfect for the middle school classroom!  They also appeal to both the girls and boys.  However, then came my next difficult task: How am I going to keep track of all my students' reading and their comprehension when three different books are being read in the classroom?!?!
Reading Notebook

I looked at some reader response journals, group discussions, literature circles, but then I found the READING/READER'S NOTEBOOK.  After scouring some of the most fantastic elementary websites, I then asked myself, how can I adapt a elementary method into the middle school classroom?  With much planning and organizing, I think I figured it out! You are going to go on this journey with me, so I will talk about the successes and failures of our reading notebooks!

1. Elementary Schedule: In the elementary reader's workshop are set up with a 5-10 minute mini-lesson with modeling, independent or group reading, and the last five minutes students share. During the independent reading, the teacher has certain groups break out, and the following day is a new mini-lesson.
Middle School Schedule: I am going to follow the model above, however, I am going to visit all the groups throughout their reading.  In addition, I am not going to start a new lesson the following day, but the students are going to work on reader response questions from the day prior as well as a group discussion activity.  This will give me a great sense of my students' comprehension of the text.

2.  Notebook Setup:  From what I have gathered, teachers set up their reading notebooks differently depending on the needs of their students.  I am going to have my students set up their notebook with the following sections: Mini-Lessons, Reader Response, Chapter Reading Logs & Vocabulary.

My students are actually going to set up their notebooks today!  I will take pictures and share them with you.  Stay tuned!

Glitter Notebook by Glitter Meets Glue Designs

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