Lets Start Reading!

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Students will begin to develop strong reading habits by choosing just right books and jot down answers to Who, What and Where questions in their reading response notebook.

Big Idea

Readers intentionally choose their independent reading books and focus on meaning.

My Lens

If you are teaching in a reading and writing school most fifth graders will be able to quickly pick two or three just right books from the classroom library to get started using their background knowledge of authors and various series.  Some students will require teacher assistance so have several bins of high interest kid tested books already preselected to suggest to them.  If available use end of year Fountis and Pinnell reading levels to anticipate the reading level of your new students.  I am intentionally asking the kids to pick quickly from the leveled classroom library and watching what they do as a formative assessment.  I will make note of students who need additional assistance and will address these needs in the days to follow- so stay tuned.


2 minutes


The lesson begins after each table group has book shopped in the classroom library and every student has several just right books on their desk, a pencil and their readers response notebook.  Demonstrate using the document camera how to set up the first page in their notebook.  Show students where to write the title of their book  followed by the date. Next, have them write Main Character, Setting and Main Problem as headings leaving space to write under each.  Next, call students one table at a time to sit in their assigned spot on the rug next to their predetermined reading partner for the mini-lesson.


“You know how if you have something made of metal and it just lays around it can get rusty?  For instance, look at this padlock and key.  I bet when it was used all the time it was very shiny.  But now it is dull and rough.  Watch me as I use a little sandpaper and remove the rust to reveal the beauty underneath.  It will take hard work and perseverance but I know I can do it.” Take a minute to sand the lock to remove rust on one area.

“It is the same with our reading.  If we didn’t read as much as we might have over the summer our reading might be little “rusty” . To remove the "rust" from our reading we can develop good reading habits.  A habit is the usual way we do something.  Turn and talk with your partner about what you think are some good reading habits. ”

I share this connection with the students because some of the students did not read as much as they might have wanted to during the summer break, and therefore they probably have regressed 1-2 levels in their reading.  My point is after summer break and not reading much- students might realize that they have to shop out of bins that are 2 levels below what they were reading proficiently and the end of the previous year.  This connection really captured the attention of the students.  They were very interested in using the sand paper and asked to take the lock and keys outside during recess so they could work hard on removing the rust.  I will continue to use the metaphor of "removing the rust from our reading in the days to come.  Especially as I help students choose books they can read independently.  This means that during independent reading I will go to students who are not reading, or are changing books everyday, and ask them to share what is going on in their books.  Usually, these students who are not reading have chosen books that are a bit out of their range.  Be on the look out for this.  Be ready to suggest different titles you think they will be successful with.  The students loved the little padlock and key and the kind of rubberish sandpaper I used on it.  Throughout the week, students would work on the padlock and remove the rust.  Two students even asked it they could take it outside and work on polishing it during recess.  I definitely will use this metaphor next year with students.


8 minutes


Part 1

“Watch me show you how easy it can be to determine WHO, WHAT, and WHERE  right away before you even begin reading a book. It is very important to know these three things because it helps you stay focused on  the book and you will be able to tell someone else what is going on.

This book is titled Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth.  The title and cover give me a good clues as to “who, what and where”. Good readers make predictions when they look at the cover of a book. I predict that probably Little Rabbit is the main character and the problem is he has a mean mom, and the setting looks like at a circus.  Let’s begin reading to confirm our thinking to see if we are correct.”  Begin reading the first several pages-

Stop when you know the main character, the setting and the problem and demonstrate for the students how to capture your thinking by writing under each heading in RRN (Reading Response Notebook).

BTW: You might be thinking –“Wow, this sure looks like a K-2 picture book!”  And you would be right.  It is a very easy story.  It is also very engaging because of the theme. In my urban multiage classroom I have a very large range in reading levels from students new to the United States acquiring English, students with IEPS, and sophisticated readers.  The reason I chose Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth is because of the theme.  Specifically, the mother has to be strict with her son, he doesn't like it one bit, but in the end Little Rabbit sees how his mother is actually helping him!  Students easily  relate to this both in their home life and in their school life. I use a variety of books to demonstrate strategies; some will be very easy but also very engaging! I use picture books intentionally and I use them for more than one lesson. I will be able to use this book over and over again to teach other important reading skills such as theme and reading punctuation.  Note in the resources other engaging picture books that are powerful mentor texts. Books by Chris Van Allsburg, Eve Bunting, Mo Willems, for example.  The important thing is that you are choosing your mentor text intentionally dependent on what you want to highlight.  In coming lessons I will use Naked Mole Rat Gets Dress for the purpose of practicing discussion norms and as a text to foster a caring classroom community. 

."Students, now it is your turn.  I am going to dismiss you to your tables and you will begin reading.  As you read ask yourself  who is this story about and when you know jot it down.  Do the same thing for the other two questions.  As you are reading you might be able to add more details about each of the questions.  Feel free to add  important information to your notebook about the main character, setting and problem.  

Independent Reading with Conferring

35 minutes

Stand and observe students as they begin to settle in to their reading.  Have prepared post-its on a clipboard to encourage reading such as "reading is precious" or "back to reading".  Subtly use these reminders as needed.   As they are reading they are focusing on character, setting and problem from day one.  I am teaching my students to read for meaning.  Focusing on these three things at the beginning of the year will help my students learn to be able to analyze text to understand plot and theme by the end of the year athe 4th/5th grade band of complexity. 

Today will serve as a formative assessment.  I am looking for students who can fall into a book and remained focused. My goal is develop the classroom expectations where all students are reading. This can be done through encouragement and by matching students to books.  On the first day, I'm anticipating not all students will have the stamina to stay focused and their books will not be a perfect fit.  But I strive to have every student in a good fit book within several days.  
After 10-15 minutes, begin to circulate to all tables. Quietly hold a brief table conference, noticing what one or more students have done and then move on.  The goal is to briefly touch base with each table group- but not get in the way of the reader.  The the clipboard and write down any students who you need to follow up with.  You'll know you need to follow up with a student if they are not reading.  If they are looking around the room, looking at their book when they see you looking at them, talking, etc.

Independent Reading Interruption "Remember to jot down important information about your characters, setting and problem.  In a few minutes, you will have chance to share your thinking about your book with your reading partner."

Partner Share

5 minutes

"Students this year, you will be able to learn so many things by reading!  I

t is going to be a great year for all of you to find out answers to things your curious about, and meet new friends in books, and read some amazing books about cool topics, and conduct research and write essays using the laptops, ipads, and the classroom library.

It is super important for you to know the routines for readers workshop.  Everyday will be the same: *Mini-lesson

*Independent reading,


Everyday, after you independent read you will have a chance to share ideas about your book with a partner, in a small group, or with the whole class. It is your chance to "teach" someone about what you are leaning.  For me, one of the best things about reading is sharing my ideas about it with someone who is interested in what I have to say!

You will get to share about what you are reading, too. Today you will share with the person sitting next to you at your table group. Partner A will share first.   Partner B, you have an important job! Your job is to be an active listener.  It's not much fun to share about something you care about and realize the person you are talking to isn't listening.  Have anyone you ever had that happen to you? You are talking to someone, and you can tell they are not even listening?  I know you do not want to be that kind of listener.  So when your partner is sharing, make sure you are focused on what they are saying.  Really listen.

When you share, use your Reading Response Notebook and share the main character, setting and problem.  You can also share other things about your book after you tell your partner these three important things.  One way we can be an active listener is to repeat what the speaker said or to ask your partner to tell you more about something."

I need a partnership who is willing to demonstrate what I'm explaining.  Talk with you partner real quick and decide if you want to demonstrate for the class."

Call on a willing partnership.  Have them demo how to share.  Process what the partners did that will support all partnership shares.

Students, I know I'm talking a lot about sharing.  But this part of the workshop is just as important as the mini-lesson and independent reading.  I want to be clear with you about your responsibility to yourself and other in the classroom.  Are their any questions?"

Ok, Partner A share first, and then Partner B.