At the beginning of the year, I teach my kids how to “hold your thinking.” This is a strategy that I use to get students into the text that they are reading, and to help improve their comprehension of a passage. While students are reading, I have them either write in the margin of the piece they are reading, or use post it notes if it is in a textbook or other book they can’t write in ( kids love colored post-it notes, shaped post it notes- anything that is different and cool pulls them in!).
I have them: Ask a question, connect to something that is familiar to them, give their opinion, predict, create a picture of what they see while reading, or make a statement (see the picture of the poster that I made in our room above). I start the year out, and I model for them how to hold their thinking. Then we practice in class and students show their examples on my Elmo. We also hold our thinking on almost all the short stories that we read in class together. Students are required to hold their thinking each week with their literature circle book. I also have students hold their thinking with their history textbooks since that can be difficult text to understand and it helps them to stay focused on their reading. I find that now my students are doing this on their own as a strategy to understand and get through difficult text. I find that hold your thinking is especially helpful for non-fiction articles and literature circle books.
I also give each student a bookmark that they keep in their textbooks, literature circle or independent reading book with the hold your thinking statements on them. That way they always have it with them.
I really feel that this is a strategy that students can use to carry over to other subjects and to future years of reading!