Middle grade English students can struggle to focus during independent reading time. They need structure to not only continue reading their book but also to improve their reading comprehension and other skills.
Different activities and reading strategies can help keep them engaged and also give you a better understanding of their reading needs.
Short one-on-one independent reading book conferences are an activity that will help both struggling readers and higher-level students. Having a healthy discussion around what students are reading gets them excited and also holds them accountable.
Learn More: Jennifer Findley
3. Stop and Jot
If you need a fun way to get students to answer reading questions, try a stop and jot with colorful sticky notes! They cover different topics such as characters, summarizing, and making connections.
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4. Coffee Shop Book Club
Making space for students to feel excited and comfortable is important! Create a "Starbooks" club where students can spend time snacking (as if at a coffee house) and getting to know books they are interested in (like a classroom party, but for books!)
Learn More: The Hungry Teacher Blog
5. Comprehension Skills Bookmarks
Comprehension questions and thinking stem bookmarks are good for keeping middle school students on track. They can use the book analysis questions on the bookmark as a reminder to stop and think about what they are reading. It also covers a variety of topics so you can focus on specific skills!
Learn More: Teachers Pay Teachers
6. Art Book Cover Project
Give students time to express what they have read in a creative way in the English language arts classroom with an independent reading project. Have them create a new book cover for what they read - they should use important quotes and images that relate to the text.
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7. Somebody Wanted But So
This activity is great at any grade level and especially for students who have a difficult time explaining what they have read. The SWBS assignment for students is color-coded with highlighters so they have a visual of the four pieces.
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8. Exit Slips for Independent Reading
These exit slips are general discussion prompts on different genres! It will keep students thinking about what they are reading whether it is fiction, non-fiction, informational, etc.
Learn More: Wild About Fifth Grade
9. Book Connection Chain
A fresh idea is to assign a book connection chain project. This activity extends over a longer amount of time, as it uses the independent books students have read in a quarter, term, or year. They will make connections between all of the books and explain how they are related.
Learn More: Angela Collis
10. Book Interview
A reluctant reader will be more motivated if they know someone is holding them accountable. In book interviews, the teacher has discussions with students or "book talks" where they ask a series of general questions. It also helps the teacher collect reading data.
Learn More: Teacher Thrive
11. Reading Response Journal
12. Accountability Tool
The idea for this activity stems from Nancie Atwell, "In the Middle". Rather than doing reading logs, students will give their "status", meaning each day they tell the class a little about what they are reading.
Learn More: Tarheel State Teacher
13. Book Spine Art
14. Bookmark and Notes Tracker
Working on reading skills should also happen during independent reading time, but it can be hard to keep track of all your students. An easy tool to add to your independent reading program is this notes tracker. Each day students will add notes from the book to their bookmark, when finished they put the sticky on their notes sheet.
Learn More: Raise The Bar Reading
15. Text Connections
No matter what the independent reading level, all students should be able to share in making connections. This simple activity has students add links to a change when they make one of the three connections. Extend the activity by having them write what their connections were on the link.
Learn More: The Art Of Learning
16. Reading Raffle
Help motivate students to reach their reading goals and add a layer of accountability. Students get a raffle ticket each time they reach a benchmark. For example, finishing a book or passing a reading quiz.
Learn More: Hanging With Mrs. Hulsey
17. Creative Reading
These are different task cards with fun prompts based on specific topics like theme, setting, conflict, etc. Students can pick whichever they would like to answer while doing their reading. Keep a set in your classroom libraries for an easy go-to activity.
Learn More: Teach Nouvelle
18. Reading Sprints
Need a lesson plan to build stamina and fluency? Reading sprints are a burst of time where students try and read as many pages as they can, BUT they must read at a pace where they can still comprehend the text. It motivates students through a bit of fun competition!
Learn More: Reading And Writing Haven
19. Book Pass
A fun way to find a favorite book is by doing a "book pass". The video shows you how to implement this mini-lesson into your class. The gist is that you pick a selection of a book students will enjoy. Then you have them read just a few pages and write a review to see what interests them.
Learn More: Colby Sharp
20. Currently Reading
A nice way to have informal book talks is by using this activity. On laminated cards, students will update daily what they are reading. If a student feels like they are confused or want to discuss something with the teacher, they place their card in the "Let's talk about it" section.
Learn More: Teaching In Room 6