If you're a parent or teacher of a middle schooler, you may have heard the phrase, "I just don't like reading". Maybe you are on the opposite end and you have an advanced reader who you want to encourage. The average student attention span is 10-15 minutes so it's important that we as parents or teachers fight against this and look for ways to continue engaging our students. Check out this list of twenty reading activities for middle school readers.
1. Pre-reading Activities
Pre-reading activities such as pictures, videos, and discussions prepare the students for the text. You can use these to get the student excited about the reading. I've implemented discussions before readings in my advanced classes and I've found it very helpful for the students.
Learn more: Elf Magazine
2. Teach Reading Strategies
If we're going to focus on reading in the classroom, we have to teach middle school reading strategies such as inferring, visualizing, and connecting.
HuddleTeach has some great posters you can use for classroom decor.
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
3. Figurative Language
Don't underestimate the value of teaching figurative language in relation to reading. The students need to be able to grasp these terms in order to grasp the true concepts of the reading.
This teacher uses Pixar Films in her classroom in conjunction with a worksheet for the students.
Learn more: English, Oh My!
4. Book Trailers
5. Mock Trials
A mock trial is one of my favorite activities for students. After a reading, split the class into two sides; one side is the defendant and the other is the prosecutor. Each side must prove the case assigned by using textual evidence. My students would get dressed up for the trial and they truly loved it!
Here's a lesson plan for "The Tell-Tale Heart".
Learn more: PDF Slide
6. Digital Story Boards
One of my favorite teaching activities after a reading assignment is storyboards. A storyboard is a sequence of pictures the students create to summarize a reading. This is a fun independent reading project that really tests their understanding of a text.
Use StoryboardThat for templates and fun images.
Learn more: What is Storyboard That and How Does It Work: Best Tips and Tricks
7. Progressive Reading Stations
Set up progressive reading stations and choose texts. Students write down discussion questions and notes at each station and then compare the texts.
Check out this lesson plan for a "Progressive Dinner".
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
8. Graphic novels
Graphic novels are a great way to engage your reluctant readers. The students feel they are simply reading a comic book while they're actually getting some solid independent reading time.
Find a full and diverse list of graphic novels here.
Learn more: Reading Middle Grade
9. Socratic Soccer
Building Book Love wrote discussion questions on a soccer ball and uses them to give the students a movement break when reading longer texts. You can have the students toss or kick the ball, and then they ask any question that's within their vision.
Sign up here for question stems for your Socratic soccer ball.
Learn more: Building Book Love
10. Choice Reading
While there's definitely value in reading fiction and non-fiction texts as a class, teachers are seeing the value in choice reading books. Give the students independent reading time to read books they actually want to read within boundaries.
Read this article to learn more about the value of choice reading.
Learn more: Teacher Scholastic
11. Book Tastings
@middleschoolforever shared a Starbucks Book Tasting Day she set up using decor from It's Just Adam on Teachers Pay Teachers. The students get to "taste" books at each table, take notes, and hopefully find a new book they will enjoy in your classroom library.
Find fun ideas for your tasting here.
Learn more: Middle School Forever and Teachers Pay Teachers
12. Reading Sprints
Reading Sprints are a great way to make independent reading time fun and effective for the students. Give the students a set amount of time to read as much as they can but give them a concept to check during this time.
Here's a great blog post on how to use these sprints.
Learn more: Reading and Writing Haven
13. Reading Graffiti Wall
Let the students contribute to the classroom decor with a wall of their favorite quotes.
Molly Maloy shares here how she uses this wall to create a positive reading culture in her classroom.
Learn more: Molly Maloy Lessons with Laughter
14. Literature Circles
Another way to promote positive reading culture is by allowing the students to discuss texts in guided literature circles. This is a great way for the students to practice their critical reading skills.
Read this article for a full overview of literature circles.
Learn more: Lit Circles
15. Reading Response Journal
A response journal can be a fun physical or digital reading activity. These journals give the students a space to process what they're reading and use textual evidence to support their thoughts.
Reading and Writing Haven on Teachers Pay Teachers has many downloadable resources for both physical and digital journals.
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
16. Authentic Reading Practice
A great way to have your students practice their reading skills is with authentic reading practice. You can give an assignment to students using travel brochures, menus, or even e-commerce sites.
Find ideas for sources here.
Learn more: Busy Teacher
Non-fiction can be tough for struggling readers. I like to find a fun non-fiction article for my students to read. Find an article based on your students' likes such as sports, music, or even true crime. You can use this time to promote a healthy discussion.
Discover some great articles here.
Learn more: Dogo News
18. Word Wall
A middle school reading strategy I've seen used often is a word wall. This wall is used to collect vocabulary words from the students' reading.
Check out how this teacher uses her word wall on a daily basis.
Learn more: GaDOE ELA
19. Plot Diagram
Plot diagrams are an excellent practice for the students to recognize the events in a story. There are different styles and templates you can use but look for one that traces the five main sections of the story - the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
Find an excellent lesson plan here.
Learn more: Read, Write, Think
When teaching reading, we can't neglect poetry. Poetry teaches different literary techniques than fiction and non-fiction texts and students can grow personally through reading poetry.
The Hungry Teacher Blog created an entire poetry unit complete with a book tasting event and figurative language lessons.
Learn more: The Hungry Teacher Blog