Re-inventing Reading Notebooks in the Digital World

This Spring 2020 was unprecedented, and in many ways, I think many teachers would agree, “unprecedented” is an understatement.


We were asked to pivot our instruction in a matter of two weeks or less to a virtual world that for some of us might have been something we were used to, for others there was some level of comfort, and for some, was completely out of their comfort zone. As an ELA teacher, my immediate concern was how am I going to keep my students reading and thinking about their reading? I needed to find a way to create a space for my students to continue to reflect on their reading, practice their reading strategies, and be able to receive feedback from me as their teacher. This is where the thought of a digital reading notebook began. I cannot take sole credit for the version of the digital reading notebook shown below. This was a collaborative effort between our entire grade level team to re-create our physical reader’s workshop notebooks in a digital copy. Essentially, the sticky notes we used to annotate in school transformed into Google Slide annotations. I hope you can use a version of this in your virtual instructional space—here’s how to do it!

  1. Create your “sticky note” template in Google Slides. Eventually your students will “make a copy” of the template so each student has their own Digital Reading Notebook that they can house on Google Drive. 2. Consider the following to include in your template: Color code your sticky notes by week for easy recognition and organisation b. Select a skill for the week to focus student thinking (i.e. setting, character traits, plot, etc.) c. Consider using different symbols to identify the type of annotation d. Leave a spot for students to cite page numbers

  2. Provide a separate space for students to expand their thinking


3. Once you have created the template for 1 “sticky note,” duplicate this slide in the presentation for as many sticky notes students are required to the week.

4. Set guidelines for the week:

5. Model an example:

6. Utilize the comment feature to provide students with feedback and assign them the feedback to consider by using the “@” button to assign the comment to a student. The student will automatically be sent an email alerting them of the comment!


Remember, one of our biggest goals as educators as we continue to teach remotely or in hybrid models is to maintain relationships and connections to our students. I have always treasured reading my student’s thinking in their reading notebooks each week. So throw on those “blue light” glasses as you hop in front of your computer screen and thank Google Slides for giving us the opportunity to stay connected!
































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