Teaching Tips

Did they read the assignment?

Monitoring students’ reading can be a challenge because we may not want to make or give a quiz every time they’re supposed to read.  Here’s an activity that you can use to check in with students reading.

I provided each student with a stack of blank 4×4 post-its.  On these post-its, they had to list as many ideas as they could from the previous night’s reading.  To up the ante, I told them that the person who had the most post-its (that had accurate information and complete thoughts) would win a prize.  Once the ground rules were laid, I set a timer for 3 minutes and let them generate ideas.  They were busy writing as many ideas as they could.  The timer interrupted them, which meant they had more to write!

Once we declared a winner, I had the students group their post-its at their tables.  They were to put like ideas together to create categories for the information they remembered from their reading, and they were supposed to label these new categories.   

After the students finished putting their post-its into categories, I had them walk around to the other tables and observe that categories and what their peers wrote down.  The students noticed that there were quite a few similarities, and I even heard exclamations about ideas they forgot to write.   

When all of the students were back in their seats, I was able to talk with them about the chapter and the major concepts that the author was conveying.  In addition, we discussed how this strategy allowed them to take time to reflect on what they remembered or thought was most important from the reading. 

I will absolutely do this lesson again because (I think) it was a low-stakes, interactive way to check in with students about their reading.    

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