Lesson: Selecting "just right' books

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Lesson Objective

Students will use the "five finger rule" to select books that are just right for their reading level.

Lesson Plan

Connection (3-5 mins): Readers, yesterday we all took the time to select book we were interested in reading during independent reading time.  We listed many strategies to use when selecting a book.  But while we were selecting books we didn’t think about what level we are as readers or if the book was “just right” for us.  Today, we will learn how to quickly decide if a book is too easy, too hard, or just right for us as readers. 


Teach (10-12 mins): Students should be seated on the carpet with a partner.  They have not been taught the procedures for turning and talking with a partner but may be asked to share ideas with a partner.  Readers, sometimes when I pick up a book to begin reading I realize that the book is not on my level or is not a book that I can easily understand.  It is still very early in the year, so some of us may not know our reading levels.  We can still decide if a book is just right by using a simple five-finger rule test.


Watch me as I show you what I mean.  Teacher opens up a book from the classroom library to model her thinking.  I am going to use the five-finger rule to help me decide if this book is too easy or too hard.  The five-finger rule means that I read an entire page of a book.  I can open up the book to any page, in the beginning, middle, or end.  As I read, each time I come to a word that I don’t know how to say I will put a finger up.  If I read the entire page and place at least five fingers in the air then I know the book is too hard for me and I must put the book back in the library. 


Teacher reads aloud a page from the book modeling this strategy.  As I read, I want you to put a finger up each time I struggle with a word.  After teacher stops reading she asks students to share with their partners how many fingers they have in the air.  Teacher can scaffold this lesson to model different numbers of missed words.  I generally model with missing three words.  Each of you told your partner that I struggled with three words on this page.  I would agree with you.


I know that because I missed less than five words and I understand what I read on this page that this book is probably “just right” for me.  It may be a level above or below where I am reading because this isn’t an exact measure but it gives me a good and quick idea about if I am able to read this book. 


Teacher may choose to model a book that is too hard and a book that is too easy as well depending on students’ level of understanding and attention span for the lesson.  I suggest having a conversation that sometimes it is okay to read books that are too easy for us if we just want a quick read.  For example, I love to read some teen fiction books although I am an adult reader but there are times when I want to read a book that is easier to understand.  The purpose of this lesson is to pick a “just right” book but it is important to highlight there are times when we will be required to read books that are easier and harder throughout the school year.


Active Engagement (15-20 mins): Students should return to their seats with a partner.  Each group or table will be given a bin of books on varying levels.  Students will work with a partner at their table for the remainder of workshop time.  Each student will take a turn reading a page aloud to their partner.  The partner is responsible for keeping count of how many words the student misses while reading.  After reading a page, the partnership fills out the reflection form together.  Then the partners may switch places.  They may need to change roles multiple times before they find a book that is “just right” for each one of the students.  Teacher should circulate during this time and help students who are having a difficult time selecting a “just right” book.  Teacher may also need to pull additional books if a “just right” book is not available in the bin for each group. 


Exit Slip/Share (3-5 mins): Teacher should collect the reflection forms for each group of students.  Teacher can also informally assess based on conversations with students as well. 


Reflection: I have used this lesson for the past three years.  I found it to be more successful in years when I had a general idea of students reading levels before creating the bins for each table.  I relied on data from the previous teacher to get a general idea of the students’ reading levels.  However, if this information is not available I suggest readings with a few students individually during workshop time.

Lesson Resources

Just Right Books Reflection.doc  


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