Must-have resources that will improve your reading instruction:

What are your must-have reading resources? For me, it was four resources I implemented consistently throughout the year, and this week, I’m going to share each resource and explain why they were must-haves in my classroom.

My Reading focus wall showcased my four must-have reading resources:
1. Interactive Speech Bubble, 2. Color-Code Your Thinking, 3. Reading Comprehension Posters, and 4. R.E.A.D. Strategy Posters.

Today, I’m sharing about my interactive speech bubble! During the past several years, I created a large speech bubble on our reading focus wall with the header: What Does the Text Say? The speech bubble served three different purposes throughout the year.

Thinking Stem Display

At the beginning of the year, I posted these thinking stems inside the speech bubble as I introduced each major comprehension strategy. Providing thinking stems helped my mini-humans better organize their thoughts and articulate their thinking. We started off slowly and responded to a text orally through class discussions. I provided lots of modeling and showed students how to select an appropriate stem from the speech bubble.

Here’s an example of how I would model selecting and using a thinking stem. “I’m going to make a guess about what’s going to happen next in the story. So as I look at the speech bubble, I’m going to select a thinking stem from ‘Making Predictions.’ I like the stem, ‘I predict…because.’ I’m going to combine what I’m thinking about the text and use this stem to form a sentence to share my prediction with you. I predict that Pig the Pug will fall out of the window because he stacked his toys too high and the pile is wobbling.” After modeling, my students would have opportunities to participate and share their thinking as well. We continued to practice using stems through dialogue in multiple settings, including whole group, small group, and collaborative groups/partners. Eventually, we began recording our thoughts on sticky notes.

Stop-n-Jot Sticky Note Display

As the mini-humans became more familiar with how to respond and share ideas through dialogue, we started recording our thinking on sticky notes. We referred to these annotations as “stop-n-jots.” By this point, students were familiar and comfortable using thinking stems independently. I removed the thinking stems from the speech bubble to prepare it for its next use. Commonly used stems were still on display on anchor charts throughout our classroom, so students were able to refer to a list of possible stems if they still needed support.

We practiced annotating texts during whole group, small group, and eventually independently. We specifically used the speech bubble during our whole group or small group lessons to display our stop-n-jot sticky notes. As students practiced responding to a text, they recorded a stop-n-jot when they made connections, asked questions, formed inferences, or made predictions. At times, they also responded to specific questions I had prepared ahead of time. I invited them to share their thinking and add their sticky to the speech bubble.

As the week progressed, we collected several sticky notes and were able to revisit their responses throughout future lessons. We color-coded the sticky notes based on the type of comprehension skill it focused on. For example, green sticky notes were used each time we wrote a prediction stop-n-jot (click HERE to learn more about color-coding stop-n-jots). So, if we came to a section in the text where we wanted to confirm or adjust our predictions, I was able to quickly reference the green prediction sticky notes on the large speech bubble. We reviewed the predictions students formed and then discussed accordingly.

Reading Comprehension Passage Display

Eventually, as state assessment season approached, we began focusing more on comprehension passages and the speech bubble was prepared for its third and final purpose.

By this point in the year, students were engaging with texts and recording stop-n-jots independently. We transitioned from recording annotations on sticky notes, to marking up a passage in the text margins. This became a test-taking strategy my students were highly encouraged to use. As I reviewed their work, I set aside a handful of passages each week that I noticed had excellent use of strategies. For instance, I selected passages that had thoughtful annotations and highlighted text evidence. I displayed these passages on the speech bubble to showcase the excellent work and effort the students had put forth.

Displaying student work provided examples of ways to thoughtfully mark up a text and encourage students to continue using their strategies, while also showcasing and highlighting excellent work. The mini-humans were always excited and proud to see their work displayed.

Are you interested in creating your own What Does the Text Say display? Head to my TeachersPayTeachers store to grab the bulletin board kit! It includes the thinking stem posters I displayed at the beginning of the year AND directions on how to assemble your own speech bubble!

Click the image to check out this resource!