5 Creative Reading Response Activities
Your students are reading. Hooray! Writing about reading has research-proven benefits, and it’s important that we ask students to respond to reading on a regular bases. Those responses don’t always have to be formal, though. Let’s take a look at some ways we can engage students in creative written responses to reading.
Booksnaps are not traditional writing assignments. Basically, students snap a photo of a page they are reading and reflecting upon. The writing portion comes in when students show - through emojis, sentences, symbols, hashtags, etcetera - how they are thinking about the what they are reading.
The goal of many booksnaps is to help students make connections and think more deeply, but I’ve also seen them used for other purposes. Ideally, when a student looks back on a booksnap a year or so after reading that text, he or she can still remember what they read on that page and why they reacted to it in that particular way.
Want to introduce them to students? I wrote out the details in this introduction to booksnaps blog post.
Crots are one of my favorite creative writing assignments. I first learned about them in my reading masters program when we were studying multi-genre research projects. I love asking students to respond to nonfiction nontraditionally.
In essence, a crot is a mixture of prose and poetry. It’s an artistic representation of ideas that involves playing with white space, colors, fonts, and layouts. You could place it in a category similar to found poetry or blackout poetry because of its artistic nature, but it’s more than that.
What I love about this activity is that it gets them to process the informational text from a different angle. Plus, students enjoy it, especially after they read inspiring examples. Some of my favorite examples of crots come from A Teacher’s Guide to the Multigenre Research Project.
Intrigued? Try it out with students. You can read about my lesson plan for nonfiction-inspired poetry and snag some introductory materials in this post.
With one pagers, students represent as much of their understanding as possible on (as the name indicates…) one blank page. They combine drawings, colors, quotes, and responses in a unified manner. Typically, students select an overarching theme and/or symbol to bring cohesiveness to their responses.
One pagers can be a little intimidating if you’ve never created them before. Last year, I experimented with different scaffolding methods to find out what students needed in order to be successful with making them. In doing so, I found that providing a menu of options for what to include was helpful. Also, students appreciated specific brainstorming questions, suggestions, and space.
If you want to know more about how I scaffolded one pagers for my students, you can read this post.
With the right prompts, journaling about reading can be fun. I use journal prompts as ways to check in with my students during choice reading units. They give me insight as to how students are thinking about their books as well as whether or not they are able to pull textual evidence to shape their responses.
We don’t always need to grade journal prompts, but when we do, we need something quick and easy. They aren’t essays, so we don’t want to sit for hours grading them like they are. One solution I’ve found is to embed a simple rubric at the bottom of the page so that expectations are clear for students and grading is quick for me.
Let’s not forget that we can show students how to respond to music. After all, it’s poetry! I always begin my poetry unit with this lesson because music is the all-time hook. It lures students in and helps them to see how analyzing poetry is very similar to analyzing prose texts. Thoughtful questions help to guide analysis. Download this activity for free and use it with any song!
We can ask students to respond to reading in so many different ways. Why not make some of them creative? Whenever possible, use response-to reading assignments to deepen students’ love for both reading AND writing.
Engage secondary students with this unique creative writing assignment - a poetic response to nonfiction texts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melissa is the creator of Reading and Writing Haven and a collaborative blogger on Teachwriting.org.
A middle and high school English teacher for over a decade now turned instructional coach, Melissa is an avid reader and writer, and she loves sharing ideas and collaborating with fellow educators. Melissa use her degrees in English, Curriculum & Instruction, and Reading as well as her Reading Specialist certification to ponder today’s educational issues while developing resources to help teachers, students, and parents make learning more relevant, meaningful, and engaging.
When she's not teaching, Melissa lives for drinking a good cup of coffee, loving on her family, working out, and contemplating the structure of a sentence as well as how she can lead her students to deeper reading comprehension (Melissa's true nerdy passions).