Friday, July 19, 2013

Getting Back to the Reading Zone

At our school the emphasis is on an individualized reading program, one based on knowing what the students' reading level is and supporting each child to become a stronger, engaged reader over time.  While we use some selections from the authorized resources as mentor texts or for small group instruction, the use of  a whole class set of novels is no longer a par of our pedagogy. One of the key components of this reading program is time to read school and through our expectation of Home Reading.

While teachers have worked to include different approaches in their classrooms to support students' growth as readers such as building large classroom libraries, developing a room of shared levelled texts, establishing guided reading groups, incorporating Daily 5 and encouraging Home Reading with logs, several of us have also adopted aspects of  Reading Workshop.

Fountas and Pinnell's Guiding Readers and Writers Grades 3-6  has framed much of what is done in my reading classroom.  Their suggestions and rationale for establishing a Reading (and Writing)Workshop are well-thought out and clearly described.

Reading Workshop (60 min.)
A booktalk/minilesson followed by groups for  
Independent Reading
Guided Reading and Literature Study/Book Club
Then meet for Group Share and Evaluation                     (Adaptation of Fig. 4-1 P. 40)

I particularly enjoyed how this schedule provides structured time to meet with small groups of students and individuals to strategically teach and support readers at different stages.

But I think I have gotten away from something vital in my organization and expectations for reading. The students who enter my classroom as readers stay readers but those students who have yet to be hooked by a book, many of them still struggling to read well, are not always 'caught' by the whole reading response and reading log requirement. Reading is work for them and I have been adding to that association with some of what I have done.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Reading Groups ...Review, Reflections and Revisions

They did it in The Jane Austen Book Club.

You can certainly do it on Goodreads.

They even do it on Twitter!  See as just one example!

People love to get together and share the books they are reading.  Well, most. If we asked our students, what would their reply be?

So how do we provide opportunities for that kind of sharing and that kind of enthusiasm?  And let's be honest; it's not entirely about the books. It's about the interaction, the socializing, the feedback, the discussion!  That's what motivates! That's why people of all ages participate in Book Clubs, reading groups or become members of forums that talk about and recommend books.

So again I ask myself, where is that in my students' day?

While I do many things I am satisfied with in my Literacy/Language Arts time, the reading part has had me tweaking for several reasons for the last number of years. See part of what I am referring to here.  I hoped to generate interest in books being read by the students by having them share their responses on the walls and to their peers.

I have also set-up "book club" type groups as part of my Reading Workshop.

usually established the groups based on reading levels. Though that didn't mean that everyone had to be on the same one. As long as I felt that everyone could have success sharing the book, I would mix up the levels a little. Personalities and other pertinent factors often play a role in setting up any groups as we all know!

 I usually provided the students a choice of books from which they could select one they wanted to read together.  These selections could be offered based on genre, author, or what I thought might interest them as a group.

And I usually scripted the follow-up activity and discussion by giving each group a guide. While some of these allowed individual responses within the group setting, I felt the talk around these topics would engage the students before they actually completed the tasks.

This guide I used early in the year or with readers who needed a little more support.

Sharing the Love of Books...A Chore?

Get your pencils ready.
Order your recess and lunch.
Take your books out.
Settle down.

That's the to-do list in many classrooms each morning, including mine on many mornings. While we may not present it as "orders", the routine-ness of it is an established goal and this tone set. And it is this approach to silent independent  reading that I wish to reconsider. But my reflections are going deeper than that.

When you finish your book, you may choose one of the responses to share your thoughts and ideas. I want you to record the title, the number of pages, the type of response you select and the new total of pages read in your log. 

This is the essence of the expectations I established this year. And it worked...for the most part and with most but not all students!

The choices in responses varied greatly and included such things as:

  • Illustrate a new book cover.
  • Write a postcard to, or from, a character.
  • Create a story map, or a comic strip.
  • Write a letter to me about what and why you enjoyed about the book.
  • Create a glossary of terms related to the non-fiction text you think may be useful.
  • Blog!
  • Write a Reader's Theatre script about an important scene. (Present it or direct it!)
  • Do an Audioboo and share it.
  • Create a movie poster for your book.
  • Sign up for a BookTalk. (with me or a classmate)
  • Use Popplet to create a character sketch (or some other selected topic)
  • Create a presentation about the author and what about their book that stood out for you.
As our outcomes include broad statements such as "Students will be expected to respond personally to a range of texts", the above are terrific ways to provide opportunities to make connections to the text with a blend of modes with which to do so.  Students are able to share their thinking in ways that access their particular learning style.  

Win-Win, right?

While I do think I am on the right track, one of the issues I have had was with students not meeting the expectation, the goal, of a response for each book in our reading program. (See here for a little more about that.) Now I have been responsive to students' lives and have not been regimental in expecting a response for all books. And in modelling different activities, I have shown how much fun can be had while sharing the pleasure in reading a particular book and the depth of your connections to it. 

I am wondering, like other teachers about what we are doing to promote the love of reading, the freedom to read, the pleasure in sharing a book.

So how do you promote reading in your classroom?
How do we find the balance between passion and pleasure in reading with the chores and work-related tasks we, as teachers, too often attach to reading?