I like to edge into the weeks. A lot of my students have a very difficult time transitioning from the weekend. Some have very little structure at home. To go from a space where there is no structure to a place where there is nothing but rules, ie school, can be difficult to navigate. That's why, whenever possible I begin the weeks with independent reading. It is quiet, calming, and stress free. I try to avoid that feeling of swimming upstream as much as possible. This activity allows kids to edge into their week.
This year I'm trying something new. I have introduced a raffle idea. If kids bring their materials on a Monday, and their book is either the same as the book used on their previous reading log or they've finished that book, returned it, and started a new book, they get a raffle ticket. For me, this is easy to manage because I am passing back the reading logs that I graded from the previous week on Mondays. As I walk by, I have a brief conference about page totals and responsibilities.
If they have proven to me that they can hold on to their materials over the weekend (often difficult for sixth graders at the start of the year) they are handed a raffle ticket.
For the raffle prize, I will order sandwiches and they can choose one friend and have a lunch date in my room.
On the first day of the week, we set the weekly reading goals, using this Five Minute Focus Read Equation Sheet. These goals change weekly, depending on the books students are reading and where they are in these given texts.
This routine repeats each week. I review the concept of a five minute focus read. It shouldn't be your fastest or slowest reading. It is meant to be your most concentrated. Here is the Five Minute Focus Read Explanation Video.
Before I put the kids in pairs to study high quality work samples, I explain that there were many examples of high quality work and these were two that stood out as nicely articulated. These are samples where students have done a nice job explaining their thinking. In each reading log entry, kids have to write a summary and a "my thinking" section. The "my thinking" section is where student's explanation and higher level thinking comes into play.
I explain that the purpose of looking at work samples is so we can borrow techniques from fellow readers. Sometimes, students get confused when they read other student's reading logs, because they haven't read the books that the other students are reading. I explain that they are not always going to understand the content. Instead we are looking for writing techniques.
I made copies of the Sample Reading Log, as well as the Using Student Work, Response and passed one out to every student. One way I like to have kids find partners would be to walk around the room and then when I say freeze, the person you are closest to becomes your partner. I refer to this as the "walk and don't stalk."
Then, once kids are in pairs, I ask them to get eye level with their partners. This ensures more meaningful cooperation. I also ask the kids to read aloud to each other. Kids found a lot of great aspects in their peer's writing.
I pose this question to the entire class: decide upon some of the key elements of the log. What were those effective strategies the readers used in their logs that made them stand out?
I call on willing participants and post a "class list of tricks" on the Promethean Board.
I end reading from our class read aloud, Crash. I hand each student an index card and have them write reactions.
Then, we review the Active Listening Guidelines, which will remind students that they'll need to listen, as well as write down reactions, predictions, and questions having to do with the read aloud.