Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What GOOD readers do when they read

Oftentimes, my CT has me work with a specific student in order to help her develop her comprehension strategies, and fluency; however, this past Monday, my CT was at a conference and the substitute asked me to take over a literacy group in the back corner. Relatively speaking, the students I was working with were about average in their reading abilities. Since I was unsure of where the group was, in relation to reading their stories and completing assignments, I decided to go with the flow, and just talk to the students about their book, how they were doing, how they liked the story, etc.

Once the group, five students, were seated and attentive, I posed the following question…”What makes a student a ‘good reader’? First of all, fourth graders have strong opinions about their reading and the reading of their peers. They are well aware of who is struggling and who is over achieving. Second of all, their opinions are very worthwhile to hear and understand, and I felt strongly that having them voice their thoughts and opinions, in relation to this topic, could shed a lot of light on their thinking, and why they think a certain way. I also wanted to convey an implicit message; that is, “How you think, and feel, is important to me, and I want you to take ownership in your learning.”

The insights they provided me with, were VERY enlightening, and I want to share them with you. I think you’ll be surprised at how intuitive, thoughtful, and right on, their thinking is!

  • “Good readers know why they are reading something and they don’t just read to read, they have reasons behind it.”
  • “A lot of good readers will look through the book first, before they read the whole thing, and then they’ll read all of it…they look for pictures.”
  • “Good readers talk to their teacher and to their friends about the book they are reading. Sometimes, they will guess what the book is about before they even read it.”
  • “Sometimes, if a reader is really good, they stop and write notes about what they are reading…like, if they don’t know a word they will stop and look it up, or if they don’t get something they’ll ask questions.”
  • “Good readers can read really fast, they can a whole book in, like, a day!”
  • “Well, if you’re a good reader, then you can read like you talk.”

As you can see…my students had a lot to share! I wasn’t sure where this question would lead us, but it turns out, we were able to continue this discussion for a good fifteen minutes. If you look closely at their comments, you’ll see that they’re right! Everything they mentioned is one aspect of what it takes to be a good reader. I was very impressed and proud of the thoughtfulness and metacognitive thinking my students displayed. Hopefully, their ability to understand what it takes to be a successful reader will help them in their own journey towards higher reading levels.


  1. These responses from your fourth graders were awesome! It's so great to see the students thinking in a metacognitive way about their own learning! Many times I think it is very easy for teachers to not include students in thinking about their own learning but it is so important that students have a say in why certain activities are meaningful and what they are gaining from these academic topics.

    You also mentioned that many of your students are well aware of the students who are of a lower achieving level in literacy. I know the older students get, the more they start to notice things like this. How has this affected those students who are of a lower literacy level in your classroom? What kinds of things do you see your CT doing to make sure the morale is high and those students are motivated to keep getting strong in their literacy learning?

  2. First, I loved the answers that your fourth graders gave! They were pretty much spot on! I noticed that you said all students know what levels the rest of their peers are at. I was wondering if this affects the atmosphere in your classroom or do all you students respect each other for who they are? I could see how this could create a problem if the teacher did not handle it correctly.
    Also I was wondering what level of readers these students were. Were these students using the ideas that they gave you are were they just repeating what they had heard others say?