Independent Reading Accountability: Think Packet

Accountability during RW can be tricky. Last year, there wasn't much accountability at the school I was student teaching, but that was also because we had 3 adults in the room during the time, running groups, so many students weren't independently reading. This year however, being all by my lonesome, I knew I needed to think of something to help make sure students are held to a high standard when they are reading independently.

My AMAZING mentor used something that she coined, "The Think Packet." We talked as a team this year on how we may use it. We made some tweaks to it to make it less intimidating, but something that would give us enough information as to what they were working on during their independent reading time (IRT)
This is the page we use for the think packet. We have enough pages for the entire month stapled together, that way, at the end, it is easier to see the work they've done for that unit. Let me go over the parts.

Each day, they write the date and a goal that they have for themselves. Some goals might be to get to a certain page number or chapter; others are the types of codes (more on that in a bit) they will get; still others are about time and being on task.

Then there's space for a book log. This way, I am able to see what they are reading and how far they get each day. If I notice that students aren't reading as many books as they should be, I can write them a note about that. There's a space also for the level of the book, as some students still struggling with reading appropriate books.

Next, the meat of the packet: the codes! When we learn new skills, we create a code for it. Students then write their code in the left hand box and write about it more in detail to the right. We created charts for different units with different codes and examples. Here's a sample of some codes from our non-fiction unit.

U- Unfamiliar Word (vocabulary): write the word and sentence stem "It means _____."
C- Connections: write a part of the book they have a connection with and how it helps them understand.
T.F.- Text Feature: identify the text feature, what page it was on, and how it helped them better understand the text
M.I- Main Idea: do a box and bullets for the main idea and details of the section of their text
?- Questions and Answers: create a question you still have about the content- try and find the answer.

Some other codes we use for reading fiction include:
P- Prediction: "I think _____ will happen next because _______"
T- Trait: "I think (character) is _______ because ______"
E- Empathy: "I feel _____ for (character) because _______"

Students take 1 minute to fill out the end of the day reflection which includes the total minutes we read, if they met their goal, if they met with me at all that day, and then an on-task evaluation.

Lastly, there's the feedback box. I try to pull think packets each day and look at their work and fill this box out. They really enjoy getting it back, looking at my notes, and getting excited over their excellent work. If a student did not complete the expectations, I circle the ones they need to work on and check the appropriate box.
At the end of the unit, we do a little graphing activity to show us better what type of thinking we were doing as readers. This is great for those kiddos who didn't do 3 codes everyday like they are suppose to, as it shows them where they need to improve (as well as myself). Plus, it's always nice to use real data to practice our graphing skills. We use the tally chart and graph section to set goals for the next month.

I'm not sure if I'll keep this up next year or go to more of a notebook style. I like how I have all these components structured. I could see the notebook be a real pain to set up. I do want to incorporate a little more writing into this block of time, so perhaps next year, every Friday, we'll take 10 minutes to write about our reading that week- either with a prompt, or just a free write on a character's choices, facts we've learned, or new ideas we have about a book.


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