Getting to Know the Reader: Using a Questionnaire to Assess Student Reading Life

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SWBAT describe themselves as readers and their reading interests by completing a reading inventory.

Big Idea

It's important for teachers to quickly get to know the reading interests of the students to help plan for engaging lessons by asking them to self-reflect on a reading questionnaire.


5 minutes

I remind the class that in order to become better readers, like anything, we have to practice reading and therefore, we will be doing a lot of it. Then I ask the class if they have every had a time where they wanted to read or were expected to read but didn't know what to read? I also ask if they have ever been offered a book that they really were not interested in. I ask them to indicate an agreement to the statement by either putting their thumb up or down based on their response. If I have time, I may even allow a few students to respond with examples.

I then tell them that we will not have any time to waste as we practice reading in 4th grade. Knowing what we like about books and how to select a new book will be really important to not wasting any time. I introduce the reading inventory and tell them that this is one way that I will get to know them better so that I can help them select just right books and so that they can identify what type of books they like.


5 minutes

I go through the inventory and select a few questions to show them how I would think about answering the question. For example, "When I read for fun, I pick the following types of books:" I show them how I look through the list and ask myself what books I've read recently. I explain to them that I can easily remember the very last book and some of the exciting books but their might be other types of books that I might be forgetting. So let me take a minute to actually think about it. I make an "aha" face and tell them how I remember that sometimes I look for read aloud books to read to the class but catch myself reading or rereading books just for fun. Then I check the picture book box. I tell them how I read Vegetarian Times sometimes to get tips for cooking. And finally, I tell them that even though I don't read the hardcopy of the newspaper, I do often read the news online. I check the magazine box and the newspaper box.


5 minutes

After I demonstrate how I would go about slowing my responses to this inventory down by really thinking about my reading, I ask them some questions. I ask students to share what sort of things they have been reading. Most of the time, after my demonstration, students like to show off that they are reading things other than books. This gives other students who were having a hard time thinking of what the possibilities are some ideas when they have to answer the questions. If students were ready for partner to partner sharing, I would ask them to "turn and share" their ideas with another. If the class was not ready to share with a partner, I would just call on a few students to share outloud.


10 minutes

I dismiss students to complete the form, reminding them to slow down and think about each question. Students work quietly while I walk around and check in with individual students. I suggest to students who have written very little to try to add more or say it in a different way.


5 minutes

I remind students that the more I know about them as readers, the more I can help them find books that will help them become better readers. I remind them that they are also in charge of finding books that will help them become a better reader. I add that sometimes our friends and classmates will also be able to suggest new books and genres that we never thought we would enjoy. So, here is our opportunity to learn about each other's preferences.

I ask students to raise their hand as I call out various genres and then ask students to look around the room to see who will be able to offer suggestions to them later on. I also point out if I notice that there are a lot of students who like certain genres (i.e. fantasy).

I end with telling them that good readers are always reflecting on their reading and this is just the beginning.