The Reading Strategies Book Goal 13: Improving Writing About Reading and a ton of FREEBIES!

I am beyond excited to write this blog post today. I was very humbled and honored to be able to join the beautiful {she is gorgeous and has perfect curls!} Colleen from Literacy Loving Gals and the #ReadingStrategiesCrew in this book study.  The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo is  an invaluable resource  that has enriched my knowledge and that I have already started implementing in my own classroom this year.  Every single time that I sit to plan a whole group lesson, a strategy lesson, or an individual conference, I have this book by my side. I have no doubt that this resource will enhance the way I exercise responsive teaching with all the firsties  in room 208.

book study topper for Read Strat gals

I am also thrilled to be writing about a goal that is dear to my heart. A goal that is gaining attention nationwide, and that for us, North Carolina teachers, is crucial: “Improving Writing About Reading”


Research has begun to point to the strong relationship between reading and writing. When a student is engaged in making meaning from text, they use writing as a process to comprehend, to problem solve, organize information, and internalize what they are reading. In addition, when writing is incorporated as a tool for comprehension, students begin to use what they know about orthographic and syntactic structures. Writing becomes a way to process thinking similar to using think aloud strategies.

Writing in response to reading should be taught explicitly and systematically so that instruction scaffolds to support struggling readers. Modeling is an important component of that support. Through teacher modeling in small group activities students learn a process they can apply in their own writing. This includes shared writing activities that involve the teacher working with students in response to challenging text.

What I love the most, and find most useful, is that Ms. Serravallo outlines all the focus lessons (skills) needed to build up and achieve mastery of each strategy (goals).  {Just in case you are wondering, that is me in the picture. Photography by Megan Hsu - Best photographer in the Cape Fear Region and my dear friend!-  and Arbonne make up and skin care}
This is what each page might look like.
These are the strategies, skills, guided reading levels, and genres/text types outlined for goal 13:

strategies at a glance

Today I will write a bit about three strategies.

 Transitioning from Sentence to Sentence
In this strategy the teacher helps her students see the connection between two sentences they want to write. This strategy will enhance our students ability  to write longer pieces and expand their thinking. This strategy is particularly important when students are learning to construct written retellings. By helping students see the purpose of their writing, the will be able to use connecting words that will add to sentence fluency. This skill is recommended for GR levels G and above,  and can be used with any genres or text types.

What’s Worth Keeping
I loved this strategy because Ms. Serravallo gives us the “recipe” for determining importance. It goes like this {click on picture to download the poster}

Ms. Serravallo recommends this strategy for GR levels L and above and it  can be use with any genre.

Five Sentence Summary
In this strategy, students determine the most  important events in the order they happened. They use the fingers of their hand and write one sentence per event. Retelling and summarizing deserve a lot of importance, I wrote about it earlier this year. You can read the “retelling” blog post HERE. Ms. Serravallo recommends that this strategy be used with students reading at a level M or above and with nonfiction only.

Classroom Implications

How  have I transformed Ms. Serravallo’s masterpiece into classroom instruction?
Let me show you:
I changed my CAFÉ board for a SAFER one.  SAFER is an acronym just like CAFÉ. You can click on the picture to download the posters.
SAFER board

Ms. Serravallo’s strategies and skills go way deeper than the ones I have used in the past. My strategies board needed a makeover.  These are the posters in my SAFER board and my explanation of what they mean.

During the literacy block I do not want to limit my students writing to written responses only. I want them to apply what they have learned in the writer’s workshop during their  “work on writing” time as well. I also want them writing across the curriculum in science and social studies …after all, our standards call for a stronger focus on nonfiction.
We all know that our emergent readers need to develop strategic reading behaviors in this area. So not much change here!

Because a fluent reader is more than “so many words per minute.”
I want my strategies board to be comprehensive, and not only cover vocabulary but also, language skills as well.
Comprehension is more than understanding. Comprehension is thinking! Comprehension is interaction! Comprehension is LOVING WHAT YOU READ!
These are some pictures of the SAFER board in action:
Because writing about reading is very important in my state, I have also had to be very intentional about it. Last week, I developed these posters and bookmarks for my own firsties. They were a huge hit with the teachers in my grade level, my instructional coach, and my BFL Marie from The Literacy Spot. So I decided to treat you all  with a forever freebie in my TpT store! Click on the picture to download!!

One Last Thing

Dear Ms. Serravallo,
I hope you know that the countless hours that you have  spent developing this book, are validated by the millions of students that will be impacted by your research.  Thank you! From the bottom of our hearts… your outstanding resource is 50 shades of awesome. 

Last but not least,  and even though my blog post closes this book study, I wanted to leave you with the schedule of blog posts.
The Reading Strategies Book Schedule

Thank you for reading and following!
Yours in teaching,