Reading Cards

Today’s story is not a silly one, it’s a method I use in class that is successful more often than it is not.

A key to the success of any caped teacher is giving the students choices–enough choice to feel they are in control of their learning. I use these reading project cards to do that when we read a class novel, individual novel or stories.

Each color is a different kind of project or question:

Blue:  Writing Forms
Blue cards give directions for writing assignments. These are typically between one and three pages, and have the requirements listed on each.  Some of the most popular blue cards are 
  • Write a Character Simile Poem.
  • Prepare a list of questions to determine whether or not someone has read this book carefully.
  • Write a letter to the main character of the book asking questions, showing support, or making complaints about situations in the book.
Red: Grammar Tools
Red cards practice grammar exercises.   They are short and relatively simple.  These card are an attempt to get the students to interact with the words on the page.  Favorites are:
  • Find three examples of figurative language in the book, list them, and tell what kind of figurative language they are.
  • Find five double-consonant words in the book.
  • Alphabetize the words from your two favorite sentences in the book.

Green: Thinking
Green cards are questions that will encourage deeper thinking skills about the book or story.  The answers are typically written in a paragraph. For example:
  • Write a new title for your book and explain why this is your choice.
  • What was the most exciting or interesting part of the book?  Why?
  • If you had enough money, what one object, thing, or place would you buy from the book and why?
  • If you had written this book, what one part would you write differently?  Why?
Yellow: Projects
These are the most popular cards.  The students have grand ideas about what they will do, and, hopefully, they are successful!
  • Create a set of maps from your story.  They can be 3-D, topographic, road maps, trail maps, or something else. 
  • Make a comic book version or an animated version (using or stop-motion animation) of your book.
  • Make a travel brochure for your book.

When I use these cards, I assign the students a particular number of cards.  The 8th graders are reading Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.  I assigned them 2 Red cards, a green card, and a choice between a yellow and blue card.  They shuffled through the decks and picked their cards.   This takes some organization, and some pre-teaching, but watching them work on the different pieces, and hearing their conversations about the books is proof that learning is happening.

Projects from Island of the Blue Dolphins–a pastel of the cover of the book and a clay model of the boat the white men used:

Projects from Because of Winn Dixie–a small replica of the guitar Otis plays to calm the animals made from cardboard and duct tape, a cardboard and clay replica of the WInn-Dixie store and the scene where Winn-Dixie knocks over the fruit.

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