Do you have students who stare into space while they are supposed to be reading? Do you have students who cannot answer a question because they have not done their reading or have not yet processed it? What to do?
My third graders could not wait for my reading block. During whole group instruction, I had all my students read a passage of a few pages or a short chapter. The class was divided into groups of five, as I had twenty students. Each person in each group had a role to fulfill before discussion of the book began. Roles rotated daily. Here are the roles they liked best:
The Summarizer summarizes the gist of the passage.
The Meaning Maker discusses the feelings that arise in the passage.
The Illustrator illustrates the passage or the most important elements of the passage.
The Word Wizard takes down and finds the definition of intriguing words in the passage.
The Moderator keeps everyone on task and makes sure everyone gets to share his or her findings. They serve as a timekeeper and taskmaster.
By the end of the week I had five pieces of work from each student indicating comprehension and engagement in reading. End of section or end of book quizzes revealed that my book circles were productive in promoting understanding of the material.
There are all sorts of roles you can choose from. You are not confined to the ones described above. Find what fits your population and what you want to evaluate. Enjoy!