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A Continuum to Help Students Think About Their Reading

Today I went to a very inspiring staff development workshop on Reader's Workshop.  I am lucky to part of a group of teachers who are piloting some new reading units being designed to address the Common Core Standards.  More about that another time....

What really got me excited today was a video we watched from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (love those guys).  You can watch the video HERE.

The teacher in the video uses a continuum of thinking about themes in literature to help her students to reflect on their own thinking about a text. The continuum was a large piece of butcher paper with the continuum outlined on it.  To prepare for the discussion, the students had to make a claim about the theme of the book they were reading and write it down on a sticky note (she used very large sticky notes).  The students then decided where to place their sticky notes on the continuum.

Here is the continuum:

  It was a fantastic visual aid for students to see the different levels of thinking about theme that are possible.  Students were able to reflect upon and have a discussion about where their own personal thinking fell in the continuum and why they thought so.  Peer argument was strongly encouraged, as long as evidence and reasoning could be provided.  This resulted in a very rich discussion and higher level thinking.  It also gave students a place to go next with their learning and their thinking and they were able to set goals for themselves.  Finally, since the teacher listened in on their conversations (and did some facilitating) she was able to gather valuable information about the progress of her students. 

As I was watching this, my mind began swimming with the many, many ways I could use a continuum like this to help my students to think about their reading.  What an awesome self-reflection tool for them and a great road map for their learning.  Also, it is a great way to get students talking about their thinking...which we all know is not easy to do!  If I think about the common core standards for reading, listening and speaking, this strategy nails it on so many levels.  Its a strategy that could also be used for other subject areas as well, including math and writing. 

Where do you get these continua (I think that is the plural for continuum)?  I started thinking about that as well.  We have rubrics for everything nowadays, and I think you just create a continuum by pulling apart the pieces of your rubrics and making them a little more kid-friendly.

I really hope you have a chance to watch the video.  I think it is going to be a game-changer for me!!

Enjoy the tail-end of your week!!
Love and peace,


  1. Hey girl!
    I've been a little MIA lately. Just a lot going on right now and not enough time in the day! Do you have your car back yet? You poor thing :( Love your continuum...thank you!

    Stephanie Ann

  2. Have you found anymore examples of the continuum? I thought the video was fabulous as well :) My email is just in case you found some and would share. :) Great post!


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