Hey there friends,
I hope you are having a great week and school is somewhat normal for you and your nuggets. This week is all about one of my favorite winter themes… snowmen! But, I am also going to be sharing with you my resources and strategies to check for understanding in guided reading.
Snowman Reading Comprehension Activities
Since my students and I love snow, I wanted to expand on our winter excitement and take a deeper look into the simple (yet, important!) comprehension skill of checking for understanding while exploring some fun snowman books.
The mentor texts for this week of guided reading resources are all fiction with a mix of classic stories and new titles. These texts showcase a little magic, some positive messages, and classic snow-person fun.
This fiction mentor text is about a sweet snowman that just wants to warm up and keeps running into problems in the process. The young kids work together to help him solve the problem.
This fiction mentor text is a sweet story about a snowman who just wants to fit in. He thinks to be perfect he needs to look like the other snowman, but in the end, he finds out that something much more important will make him feel perfect.
This fiction mentor text is about a group of animal friends wanting to build a snowman. Raccoon thinks he knows what makes the perfect snowman and so he decides to “help” his friends create their snowmen too. In the process he realizes he didn’t really help, rather he hurt his friends.
This fiction mentor text is a fun story about a little girl and her family creating the most enormous snowman, how her community reacts, and how she works hard to preserve her giant snow friend.
This fiction mentor text is a sweet story about a snowman who magically comes to life. Its simplicity makes the magic feel almost attainable and inspires great creative writing.
You can purchase and download the resources by clicking on the images above, or they are all included in my Guided Reading with a Purpose Snowman Bundle. The texts that go along with these guided reading resources are available on Amazon and you can view them in my Amazon store by clicking on the book titles above. (As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Importance of Checking for Understanding
I think winter is a great time to review and strengthen foundational skills before we move into more complex concepts and it’s a great time to take it a step further. There are two main reasons why checking for understanding is an important part of guided reading:
- By pausing to check with our students we eliminate misconceptions that lead to not properly comprehending the message, information, or lesson we were hoping to deliver with the text.
- Pausing to check for understanding is a perfect opportunity to assess where a students’ abilities and comprehension land. After obtaining this information we as teachers can then properly differentiate our instruction and feedback.
Strategies to Check for Understanding
Model for your Students
The easiest way to encourage students to check for understanding as they read is to model the strategy yourself. When reading a text aloud, pause and explain what that portion made you think of or summarize what you just read. You can use these free check for understanding thought bubble discussion cards to help you draw attention to the number of times you pause to reflect and check when reading.
This can even be done while a child reads to the class by standing next to them and when you begin to think about what has been read raise your thought bubble and share. I’ve included 3 different templates to differentiate the questioning level of your students.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Another strategy is practice until it becomes a habit. You can signal students to pause during partner or group reading to go over their questions, opinions, and summaries of what was read. Provide students with sentence prompts or guiding questions (as seen on my book talk bookmarks) to help guide them in their discussions. These helpful book talk bookmarks are included with each of the snowman resources listed above.
Take Your Time
In the end, we want students to know that our experience with a text is a mixture of both reading and thinking. We don’t need to rush through our reading, in fact, we don’t encourage that.
If you have any tips or tricks that you love when teaching how to check for understanding, I would love for you to share.
If you want to learn more about Guided Reading with a Purpose you can check out this previous blog post all about the curriculum to help make your guided reading time focused, intentional, and packed full of comprehension skills.
As always, feel free to reach out with questions, suggestions or just to connect!