Small Group

Reading Surveys: A Go-To Data Source for Creating a Focus for Instruction

It’s not unusual for teachers to survey students about their reading interests and habits at the beginning of the year. Anytime we ask kiddos their thoughts and ideas about important topics, their answers become a go-to data source for creating a focus for instruction—both in the short term and often across several weeks.

Take a look at this Reading Interest Survey and think about these questions:

  1. What questions stand out to you? How do you anticipate you’d use the data you collect from those questions?

  2. What questions would you revise or eliminate?

TRY THIS

  1. Give students a copy of the Reading Interest Survey template.

  2. Ahead of time, fill out a survey about yourself. To lift the learning across the classroom, share a few ideas from your survey with the whole class. This gives students an opportunity to get to know you AND serves as a model for how the survey answers can be shared.

  3. Give students 10-15 minutes to jot down their answers.

  4. Break students into pairs or small groups of 3 or 4 and give them an opportunity to share their survey answers with others.

  5. As students share, listen in [or kidwatch] so that you get to know students as they are getting to know their peers.

  6. Collect student surveys.

LOOKING ACROSS THE DATA

As you look across student survey results, here are some ways you might consider using the data to guide your planning. You could:

  • Think about who likes to read with a partner and/or who likes to talk to others about what they read. This information could help you create Reading Thinking Partners.

  • Take stock in what genres/types of reading materials students like best. This is a great opportunity to begin curating texts that students might want to read.

  • Give students an opportunity to book talk [shout out or talk about] their favorite book with others by inviting them to share with the whole class or in small groups.

  • Look for patterns and create a list of short text types that students like to read. Check out Chapter 2 if you want to think about launching small groups focused on students’ interests.

  • Pay close attention to what students write [or don’t write] for question #11.

  • Save a copy of students’ surveys. Across the year, re-visit this initial survey and ask students to reflect on their responses. Nudge: Put a note on your calendar to re-survey students a few months into the school year. Students’ interests, passion, and inquiries change across time.

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Building Relationships: Re-thinking Surveys [Part 2]

A great place to start when building relationships with students is to find out about their interests, passions, inquiries, and habits. Doing so gives us some the intel to serve students’ individual and collective needs. Some of the ways we get to know students—both in the beginning of the year AND across the year—include:

  • Conferring 1:1 with students

  • Listening in and joining in small group learning opportunities

  • Giving students the opportunity to turn and talk during whole group learning

  • Playing get-to-know-you games and launching activities

Surveying students in ways that give students the opportunity to share about themselves in unique and exciting ways is a high leverage move for building relationships and getting to know students. In collaboration with Barry Hoonan —my colleague, friend, and co-author—we worked to re-design new ways of surveying kiddos so that we could plan instruction and learning opportunities in unique ways.

TRY THIS

  1. Give students a copy of the Tell Us Your Thoughts About template.

  2. Explain that students should read the question stems and select the response [1-5] that best matches their thoughts and feelings.

  3. Remind students that they can select a response that is in the middle of 2 different responses [Example—marking the line between 5 and 4].

  4. Remind students that if they want to elaborate on their responses, they can use the boxes or space around the outside edges to add additional information.

  5. Give students 5-10 minutes to jot down their answers. Nudge: While students are filling out their surveys, fill one out about yourself too.

  6. To lift the learning across the classroom, share a few ideas from your survey with the whole class. This gives students an opportunity to get to know you AND serves as a model for how the survey answers can be shared.

  7. Give students an opportunity to share their survey answers with others. Break students into pairs or Thought Partners. After pairs or Thought Partners have had a chance to share, turn Thought Partners into Groups of Four to do another round of sharing. For more about Thought Partners to Groups of Four, see pages 60-62 in What Are You Grouping For?, Grades 3-8: How to Guide Small Groups Based on Readers—Not the Book.

  8. As students share, listen in [or kidwatch] so that you get to know students as they are getting to know their peers.

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