Reading Station

Posted by Megan Smith on August 28, 2012 in Learning Stations, Reading Resources

The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

Dr. Seuss

My favorite station to plan for and have in class is a reading station. There are so many authentic readings available thanks to the internet. Even without a lot of resources, I can find something that relates to any unit or topic I teach. Reading helps students pick up new vocabulary (because they see it in context) and start to recognize important patterns (verbs, spelling, word order). It is so important that students get input from reading and listening, before we expect them to produce the language with writing or speaking.

Students generally tell me that they do NOT like reading. A few do, but most of my students don’t. I take this as a challenge. It’s not that they don’t like reading, they just usually don’t like being forced to read textbooks or novels that they aren’t interested in. I believe that it is VERY important to give your students options. They will be much more motivated to read when they find something that interests them.

Here are some options for reading sources…

Books (Children’s books are a huge hit for my classes. If you don’t have TL books, reserve some from your public library. I got about 60 books and we had a 2 day reading marathon one year. Kids got comfortable, I played quiet music, and they loved it. My dream is to have a TL library at the school to share with the whole department!)

Top left picture shows the Cognate lesson.

Magazines

I subscribe to People en Espanol, Mujer, and ESPN Deportes. A student’s mom works at a doctor’s office and she also donated about 100 copies of the magazine Padre’s. I also have picked up a few on vacation and I always ask friends to buy a few if they travel to a Spanish-speaking country. I bought a gaming magazine in Costa Rica – it seemed weird to me but a few of my students LOVED this! Magazines are great for novice readers because they are full of pictures, advertisements, and lists.  They include basic info like bios, ages, nationalities, activities, dates, days of the week, ect. Upper levels can read for main ideas and more details about specific topics – music or movie reviews, news or sports stories, celebrity drama, recipes, or health advice.

Newspapers/Advertisements/Coupons

I pick up a few newspapers each time I eat at our local Mexican restaurant in town. You will see grocery ads with foods labeled, as well as sale and shopping information. You can find business advertisements with descriptions of the job, their location and contact information, and a slogan. Letters to the editor can be a great reading option too. Kara teaches an awesome lesson during her shopping unit just by giving her students coupons and letting them figure out the vocabulary.

YELP.COM

This is a website with user Reviews and recommendations of restaurants, shopping, nightlife, entertainment, museums and more! It’s initially in English but you can change the language of the website on the bottom right corner – Spanish, French, and Italian are all available. If you’re learning about art you could print off reviews of different museums around the world. For a food unit, print off review of different restaurants around the world. They not only get language input but also get to see the world!

Twitter

I use tweets are reading practice during every unit. Students can relate to it and you can find people talking about anything you could possibly want. Here are some of the tweets I showed during our “Daily Routine” unit.

 Menus

Pick up to-go menus or find them online. Since they are working in a station, you will only need a few of them. Give them a task. Let them figure out their favorite foods or have them learn to describe a meal. Maybe they can try to find different adjectives describing the food.

ESPN or UNIVISION

Another good thing for students to read is a TV guide. Good novice practice for date and time! Print out a few different options and you have a great station!

I was once told that you can use any text for any level – what differs is what you expect them to do with it. Great advice. If you understand proficiency levels you have an idea of what novice students can do vs. what an intermediate student can do. I want students to READ while at the station – not just fill out forms and answer questions. However, a small task seems to help students stay on task and feel successful.

Other readings:

Food packaging, flyers, junk mail, Facebook profiles, cooking instructions, receipts, surveys and SO MUCH MORE!

Here are some activities for students to do while at the reading station.

  • Fill out a form – main idea and 2 details
  • Make a list (favorite foods, activities listed, description words)
  • Write a tweet that could fit in with the ones you read
  • List 10 new cognates
  • Describe a museum you read about -Where is it? What will you see there?
  • Underline WHO is talked about in the article
  • Circle WHAT they are doing
  • Put a box around WHEN – any references to time
  • Give them a quick 2 question quiz the last 2 minutes (leave answers for them to check themselves!

So there you have it! Hope there was a new idea here for you today!

Remember… Mix it up each week so there is something different when they go to the reading station. Make sure it’s connected to what you are learning. Give them options to choose from. Have a short task to complete after reading.

All of a sudden students won’t be dreading the reading station and they can learn without you or a vocab list! A teacher’s dream!

P.S. If you have any other great reading sources, please share them with us below! We would love to hear about it!

Want to read more about stations??

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36 comments for “Reading Station”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Love it! Thanks so much.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I often include jokes at the reading station. Students enjoy reading them and are less overwhelmed than they might be by a longer reading.
    I also use comics a lot at reading station. Sometimes I cut apart the frames and the reading task is to put the comic back together. This eliminates the students having to respond in writing to demonstrate their comprehension. I have found that many of the students who say they don’t like reading actually dislike the writing aspect.

    1. Megan says:

      love this idea! and i agree that the writing is what puts some students off from reading@

    2. Megan says:

      Where do you find your comics? I’d love to see some!

      1. laurita2009 says:

        You can get some comics in Spanish at GoComics.com
        They email them to you daily if you’d like!

      2. Anonymous says:

        I get most of my comics from authentic children’s books and magazines. (I’m a French teacher.) I usually photocopy the page, and then cut up the frames (and glue them on tagboard) so that I still have an original of the comic. I write letters on the back of the frames, and have the students fill in a sheet with the letters from the back of the card after they have put the comic in order so that I can assess their comprehension. I received very positive feedback from an administrator during an observation of this activity, because of the problem-solving skills that were developed, in addition to the language skills.

        1. Megan says:

          I like that they have to put it back together… How do they know if they are right? Do you check them or leave answers in spot where they can check it when they are ready?

          1. Anonymous says:

            I usually check them. My students seem to try harder if it’s for a grade. Fortunately, it takes only seconds to grade these–much less time than it would to grade comprehension questions. BTW, thank you so much for your wonderful blog. I just joined, having seen it posted on FLTeach. Even though I’ve been teaching for 23 years, I’ve been inspired by your ideas!

            1. Kara says:

              Thanks! I love it that you are still shaking up your classroom activities. You inspire ME!

  3. STephanie Lint-Perez says:

    THese are all great ideas, Kara! I unfortunately have the problem of having to resort to the internet for my resources b/c I do not live in a community where Spanish items are so obtainable as it appears in yours. I guess I will have to look for grant money for subscriptions to the magazines.

    Try subscribing to “Infografias en castellano” and you’ll see some cool authentic mailings come your way!

    1. I LOVE “Infografias” thank you for sharing this resource!

    2. Kara says:

      LOVE! I found a bunch of these on Pinterest and Google images too. Rachel found some in French too.

  4. Abby Holland says:

    How do you find tweets in Spanish?

    1. Rebecca says:

      go to twitter.com. I don’t think you have to create an account. There should be a search icon. Type in the vocabulary word in the target language and hit enter. It will pull up the current tweets that have that word in them. **Make sure you preview them before you use them in class. Some of them are not appropriate.

  5. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the great, detailed lists of readings!
    One thing I have done with realia readings is a scavenger hunt for specific vocabulary and/or verb forms. I’ve had noun-adjective hunts by gender/number, verb conjugations, and command forms, which are abundant in magazines and newspaper ads!
    I’ve also used brochures from different attractions I’ve been to, and in our travel unit I had students make their own for various attractions in our area as an extension.

  6. Amy says:

    Great Post! I don’t know anything about Twitter but it looks like fun. I’ll need to look into that. Can’t wait for your next post. 🙂

  7. Mara Cobe says:

    THANK YOU! This is a fabulous post, which I’ve shared with my teachers. We are always scrambling for authentic materials, and you’ve shared some wonderful ideas!

    1. Megan says:

      Gracias Mara! Glad you could share it!

  8. Karyn says:

    This is a great list! I’m doing centers next week and I just got a subscription to People en espanol from my school’s magazine sales (ordered from my niece who is in K4 at my school). I always pick up magazines in English for using in projects, but I have a hard time finding Spanish magazines in my town. I did find a local Spanish newspaper at one of the Mexican restaurants in town, so I’m excited about that! I will definitely use these in my reading station!!

  9. Beth says:

    LOVE the ideas! If participate in the Coke Rewards program, one of the options for redeeming your saved points is a year’s subscription to People en Español! I’ve ordered 2 for free for my classroom.

    Two questions: are the reading companion sheets shown in the first picture available on TpT? And where did you find ESPN Deportes available?

    Mil gracias, como siempre.

    1. Beth says:

      Sorry—one more. Any tips on effectively searching Twitter for tweets like what you show above?

      1. Megan says:

        Searching Twitter is simple… if you have an acount, go the search section. Type in the phrases/key vocab and you will get 100’s of tweets from the last hour! There are quite a few inappropriate tweets, but sift through those and there are tons of funny and creative tweets! I

        1. Anonymous says:

          Do you put the tweets in a power point, and show on overheard projector or do you copy/ paste? How do you make them look so cool?

    2. Megan says:

      I got 1 magazine from CokeRewards too! My mom drinks the Coke and sends me the rewards!
      I searched ESPN online and pay something like $18 a year – it comes all the way from Puerto Rico!

    3. Kara says:

      My school library has a subscription too. After a year, they give me the old ones so we can cut them up.

    4. Kristy says:

      I just renewed my People en Español and it’s half-price for only 125 points, if anyone has the points and wants to go order a subscription. I’m excited about that deal!

  10. Catie says:

    I don’t know if the website has been mentioned on here before, but I find so much realia on this website: http://zachary-jones.com/zambombazo/

    On this site I have found an activity called twiccionario with different tweets in Spanish, which I have used for reading activities.

    1. Lori says:

      Thanks for sharing this!!!!!

  11. spanishplans says:

    Every time I am on vacation in a Spanish speaking country… I end up spending a good amount of time in a bookstore. I always end up bringing a few Condorito comics back with me. This time I decided to buy some “teen” magazines, which have a lot of Justin Bieber and Co. pictures, but it also has a lot of underwear ads with pictures that probably would get my students a bit distracted, so no go on being able to set those out.

    1. Anonymous says:

      With magazines containing distracting ads, just tear out the relevant pages that you like and paste to construction paper backing, laminate if you want, and you have readings to pass around or leave at stations. These are easy to file along with topics as well.

  12. Tammy says:

    I obtain retired copies of People Magazine en Español from my local library. I also check out Spanish children’s books that have something to do with the unit we are studying (or have studied for a review).

  13. Robyn says:

    What is that paper the students are filling out while reading the libros?

  14. bokepasa50 says:

    Reblogged this on Mi rincón ELE.

  15. Megan says:

    Out of curiosity, what is the butcher paper alphabet with all the sticky notes on it (in the first photo) used for?

    Thanks!

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Ah! That’s from a prior activity about cognates. Here’s a post about it: http://www.creativelanguageclass.com/cognate-practice-part-1/

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