At iFLT 2017, I presented a session called “Digging out of the Reading Rut.” In this session, we explored ways to read chapters of a text differently and activities to follow up those chapter readings. Because many Fluency Matters comprehension-based readers have 10 chapters let’s look at 10 different ways to follow-up after reading.

  1. Floor Venn Diagrams: Most of the comprehension based readers I use are part of a larger unit. These units compare film and text, authentic pieces with literature for learners, film shorts and text, etc. As students are building the necessary skills to compare and contrast, I have found that floor Venn diagrams are a fun way to practice.

I type up events from the comprehension- based reader and from the film and ask students to categorize them.


  1. Living time line: As we read a reader, especially one with a lot of important events to remember, we summarize the chapter in 4 sentences each day. At the end of the story, students can gallery walk these summaries to re-read key events of the character’s life.


  1. Class Social Media: When we read Frida Kahlo by Kristy Placido, we do “selfie homework” every night. I chose to do this via our wildcat_Spanish snapchat but it would be fun on Instagram or Twitter as well. Any time students will interact with a text outside the classroom, it’s a home run!
  2. Related tweets: I like to search Twitter for hashtags related to the cultural focus of each comprehension-based reader I use. Sometimes it takes a lot of scrolling to find a series of tweets with the hashtag that are all school appropriate but when I find just the right ones, I screenshot them and hand them out to students. Their job is to read the tweets and respond (on paper) to 3 of the 5.
  3. Text conversations with characters: One of my favorite activities post chapter is to use a rectangular shape on Word or Pages to create a “cellphone”. I add a line at the top where students will label who is texting whom and then I add four talk bubbles in the phone I have created.
  • Print a few copies to hang around the room and then put students in groups of four.
  • At their first “cellphone”, they write a text message in the top talk bubble and write in who is sending the message and to whom they are sending it.
  • Groups move to the next “cellphone” where they have to read the text that the previous group wrote and reply.
  • They advance again and read the first two bubbles then reply in the third.
  • Groups advance one last time to fill the final bubble.

Sometimes the texts are a little dry and predictable but sometimes they are VERY, VERY funny!

  1. Discussion Thursday: When we are reading, I spend Thursdays cultivating interpersonal communication with discussion Thursday. In one large group we discuss a topic of the day using terminology they are familiar with from their literature courses like protagonist, antagonist, conflict, action, etc. These are all cognates for Spanish students so it lets us do a lot of great discussion on a higher order level.

Full instructions are included in this free download.

  1. In the eyes of a character: I literally make an eye. I use an oval, a circle, and a smaller circle for the pupil and make an eye that fills a page. I make copies for my class and their job is to follow up our reading by illustrating all the things the main character saw. They do the drawings inside this giant eye.
  2. Booksnaps: You can read a lot about it on the Internet by googling #booksnaps but basically students use the camera on their device and a photo editing application to react to something that happened in the text. They snap a picture of the part of the text they are reacting to and then use the photo editing app to add words and “stickers” or images that show how they’re feeling. From a cellphone they can add bitmojis (an avatar that looks just like them) who are expressing the same emotions they feel.
  3. Authres connections: Follow up a chapter by connecting to authentic pieces of text. When we finished reading about Frida Kahlo’s polio, we followed up with several infographics about vaccinations. I had student groups read the infographics for both specific information and for additional takeaways that were meaningful to them.
  1. Yellow Brick Road Retell: To help students build transitional vocabulary into their narrative, end the novel study with a yellow brick road retell. On each brick, use a transition word like then, so, next, finally, etc. followed by a short sentence starter from the text. For example: first she woke up…. Then she saw the…. Next she felt… Finally she tried to….

Student pairs will stand on opposite sides of the yellow bricks. They’ll take turns retelling the story. Student A will have 90 seconds to retell what happened from brick 1 to brick 2 then when the timer sounds, they’ll advance to brick 2 where student B will have 90 seconds to retell what happened between bricks 2 and 3. Other student groups will start at different places along the road so their story won’t always begin at the beginning! In a larger class, create two parallel roads that allow you room to move between groups!

Carrie Toth is a Spanish teacher from Illinois with over 20 years of teaching experience. She was the 2014 Central States Teacher of the Year and 2015 finalist for ACTFL Teacher of the Year. Carrie has authored La Calaca AlegreLa hija del sastreBianca Nieves y los 7 toritos, and Vector. She blogs at and can be found on Twitter @senoraCMT.

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