Margin Notes



What is a reading word sort?

This “Think From the Middle” reading activity is used for making predictions, setting reading intention and checking for understanding. It involves tactile learning and can be done individually or in groups. Here is the description from their website:


Word sorts for narrative text is a before-, during-, and after-reading strategy in which the teacher creates a collection of important words and phrases from a story on index cards.  This collection is prepared in advance of the lesson.  Working individually or in pairs before reading the text, students arrange the cards in an order that supports the telling of a story and then use the cards to tell the story to the class.  During the reading the teacher stops occasionally, allowing the students to rearrange their cards, as needed. Upon the conclusion of the reading, the students rearrange for the last time in order to give a proper retelling.

How would I use it?

Before asking students to complete this sorting, the teacher would model the steps in a mini-lesson while sharing aloud their thinking. The work of readers happens inside the mind and the think-aloud will allow that process to be visible for students.

This idea can be expanded to have students continue to re-arrange the cards to discuss theme, characters, conflict, text structure etc. The teacher guides the lesson with the words/phrases selected for the cards.

Where can I find a step-by-step guide?

This reading activity comes from the website Think From the Middle and all the directions are written out step-by-step here.

If you love this activity and want to stretch this thinking, check out our post on hexagonal thinking.

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