You mean I have to THINK?

Hey there!  It is Jessica from Hanging Out in First!  I am back with you today and I am planning on sharing with you one of my favorite activities for my guided reading.
 I don't know about you, but I have so many students that do not realize that they have to THINK while they read.  I think this is one of the most difficult things for students to learn.  Students, especially the little guys, become so focused on decoding for sound that they forget to think about the text while they are reading. They get to the end of the page and have no idea what they just read! Even I am guilty of this "fake reading" from time to time.  It is easy to do.

So, how do we teach the kids that they have to THINK about the story?

One of my favorite strategies is the THINKmark.  I honestly cannot remember where I first learned about THINKmarks but I know that it has been several years ago now.  THINKmarks are bookmarks that students can write on and make notes on about their reading.  I spend a lot of time teaching students how to use these during our guided reading groups.  Then students can continue to use them during independent reading.

You can click on the picture above to hop over to my blog for a free copy of the THINKmarks.  The first page includes four bookmarks on the page (you can copy them front to back for longer books).  The second page has larger THINKmarks for your primary students that need more space for their writings and pictures.

When teaching my kids to use THINKmarks, I have them stop reading every page or so to make a note about their reading (As students become better readers and better users of THINKmarks, they will not have to stop this often.  They can use more of their own discretion with their note taking.)  They write the page number that they are on.  Then they decide what type of note they will be making.  This fun anchor chart gives symbols that students can use to mark their notes with:

(Disclaimer: This is not my anchor chart, but it sure looks good!)

So, for example, if a student does not know what a word is on a page, they can make a note with a question mark followed by the word.

This is such a great way to get students to be thinking about what they are reading.  When my students finish the story, we look over the notes they have made and discuss any questions they have and any important things they have noticed from their reading.  It also helps students to remember important details for when they are retelling a story!

The website The Curriculum Corner has so many fantastic resources, but one of the resources that I use is actually the small bookmarks/anchor charts that they have with all of the symbols for students to use when making their notes.

BTW: This can also be done with sticky notes!! =)


  1. Jessica-
    Great post! I like the Thinkmarks and the anchor chart that goes with it. It reminds me of a "Smarter Charts" chart! I love those :)
    Curious Firsties

  2. I first learned about thinkmarks in my master's program and LOVE them! They are such a neat tool, and a lot less messy than sticky notes everywhere. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Great Idea! I am looping with my first graders this year and going into second this could be a great tool to begin our transition into second grade. Thanks :)