One thing you can do is wrap some structure around the time. Remind the kids of all they know how to do during partner time already. Brainstorm a list of things they learned last year. Here are two charts that teachers made with their students. I love some of the ideas they invented together!
This chart uses what kids already know and then reminds them to use their private time to get ready for their partner time.
Take Kathy Collins's advise in Reading for Real and stop your students a few minutes before the private time ends. Say something like, "Readers, we have two minutes before partner time. Get ready for partner time. Mark the pages you want to share, maybe even reread a little on that page so you'll have ideas to share."
Now... this leads us to big question #2...
Are you wondering how to help your kids collect some jottings about their thinking in reading workshop on those post-its?
Many teachers and I have been thinking about this too, especially as we have kids reading in books and Level J and above. It seems like the work they need to do as readers is the following:
- Monitor for meaning in these longer texts.
- Accumulate text while thinking about the main idea.
- Make inferences about the characters and begin to develop ideas and then theories.
As teachers and I look at the post-its kids are collecting, we currently see some post-its that look like...
Some teachers use a chart that looks like the one above to remind kids of the way predictions sound.
A Statement about a character or a fact from an information book.
Sometimes these statements sound like ideas. I made the following mentor post-its with some students during a read aloud of the Houndsley and Catina series by James Howe. We retold and THEN pushed ourselves to have an idea about the character. We said, "This makes me think..." and then we jotted. Click on this photo to see a larger view.
One of the post-its close up:
We found more students collecting post-its with retellings AND ideas after this modeling. We also carried these post-its around the room with us during conferring time so we could remind students what this kind of thinking looks like.
This is just the beginning. Remember, the main points of collecting your thoughts on post-its its it to do two things:
1. To have some evidence of the thinking work you are doing during your independent reading time.
2. To have some jottings to use to support a conversation when you get together with your partner during partner time.
If you students don't have any way to record their thoughts as they read, you'll want to share with them some of the ways that readers do this. You can use read aloud as a time to model this as well as your reading minilessons. You might even have a chart that reminds kids of the different ways they can collect jottings as they read. See the next post on post-its and partners to help you imagine this!