As you probably know, I am in fact an advocate for the use of follow-up activities in the classroom reading programme - I have spent much time and energy devising them - BUT there is a strong case put forward by teachers and educationalists which has to be recognised.
Many will condemn ‘worksheets’ as busy work, and it is true that the kids can easily get the wrong message about what reading is actually about. The problem is (as always) not with the tool but with the application. When reading activities BECOME the reading programme – go away and read this story then answer the questions – there is something sadly wrong.
This isn’t an instructional reading programme, this is activity management with a forlorn hope that through mileage the reader will somehow imbibe the reading skills and strategies they need to become a better reader.
Rarely does this happen.
HOWEVER ... Follow-up activities are an organisational necessity in a balanced reading programme.They keep the rest of the class meaningfully employed while you the teacher get to do the heavy lifting - the instructional work with your reading groups. (If you don’t have reading groups you don’t need follow-up activities).
BUT ...Follow-up activities have to be taught. You will get back from the kids exactly what you are prepared to put in. Spend time explaining the activity, modelling the response you are after and provide the opportunity to share the results and get feedback.
AND ...Follow-up activities should be so much more than grinding through a list of ‘search and destroy’ comprehension questions. Provide your readers with graphic responses as well as written responses. Provide variety that utilises higher order thinking and allow choice.
More to follow about what this looks like.
In the meantime, check out what we have done with our own instructional text and follow-up activities (Sharp Stories).