Reading is the first step to writing

Yes I know, this page is supposed to show you how to make your students want to write and become a little more excited about their writing. However, the first step to writing is reading. Trying to get a student to write before they read is like trying to get them to write before the learn the alphabet(maybe not as extreme but you get the point). With this statement we come to the struggle of, “What if my kids can’t read?”. When I first heard of the book When Kids Can’t Read What Teachers Can Do by Kylene Beers, I thought to myself: “What students in any high school can’t read a book?” After reading further into the book I realized that those kids that “can’t read” can most of the time physically read words on a page, but they pull no meaning from the words and they often have no clue what they have read when they are finished. This book is all about helping students understand and pull meaning from what they are reading. More often than not, student writing is based off of something they have had to read; a newspaper, a book, or an article in a magazine. This book gives teachers several pre-reading, during reading, and post-reading projects to help students, and these projects are often writing projects!

Writing projects don’t always have to be papers and essays, but they can be character boards with full descriptions, KWL(What they KNOW, What they WANT to know, and what they LEARNED) charts that every student is capable of doing, or thought provoking journal questions(click link for powerpoint KWL Charts). One writing tool described in this book is a Character Board(pg 134). This tool helps students to see what they are reading, and it helps them pull evidence from the text to support their opinions. It doesn’t take much to make this a more elaborate writing project. All you have to do is write a full paragraph description of the character of their board. For instance,  if your students are reading Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck they could create a character board for Lennie. The character board would include symbols and explanations for the symbols such as a rabbit because of his obsession with taking care of the rabbits. Your students are gaining knowledge from the book all while using CCSS for writing. Kylene Beers’ book includes many things you can turn into more intensive and interesting writing assignments for your student. So, pick it up, pick what you find interesting and find what you think your students will enjoy writing about!

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