Today is Monday September 9th, the 4th day of school and I am checking in with students to see if they are matched to their books. I observe 3-4 kinds of data points:
1: Are they using their reading logs?
2: Are they reading during independent reading?
3: Are they switching books?
4: Can they tell you important parts of the book when you confer with them?
At the beginning of the year, the most common reason kids are not in a just right book is they are picking books that are too hard for them. The reason most kids pick too hard of books is because they want to be reading "hard" books like the "smart" kids. It is easy for me to spot students not matched in good fit books because students are pretend reading- but the thing is, they really can't pretend for very long during an independent reading session because it is so boring to be just looking at a page and turning them...with out reading them. They start looking around and are obviously not engaged in the text. Important skills readers need to select just right books is to know what kind of reader they are right now. What kinds of books do they like to read? Sometimes they haven't found that special series of books that unlock their desire to read. My job as a teacher is to get to know my students and make suggestions of good books to them. I also track their reading with a conferring form. It is especially helpful when I pair up to readers in the same book and meet with them daily to get them engaged and involved with a book. Talking with parents is also helpful to get the on board with supporting their child with nightly reading and filling out reading log.
Today, I pulled up about 12 readers for a strategy lesson reviewing what is a good fit book and the I PICK strategy. Students included in this lesson are students who need more help in picking their own books. I have their reading levels from last year and students are aware of their levels, although I told them that at the beginning of the year their reading might feel a little rusty if they haven't read much over the summer. I encouraged student to pick books a couple levels below where they were reading at the end of last year, if this described them. Students need some important skills to pick a good fit book. They need to be able to effectively preview a text, looking at the cover, reading the blurb, reading a sample page from the book to see if they can understand what is going on, read most of the words, and know their meainigs, and picture what is happening. For students to know if they comprehend something they have to be aware of their own thinking. They need to be metacognitive. they have to hear their own voice in their head as they are reading and connect to it, and then imagine what they author is saying. A goal I have for my students is to be able to read a variety of books, including fiction, informational, poetry, and plays at the the 4-5 grade complexity by the end of the year. For some of my students this will require lots of reading so they move up levels and are able to comprehend denser text with harder vocabulary and ideas.
To develop students' metacognition about "am I understanding this book" is decided to have them pick two books that were good fits and one that wasn't a good fit and tell why by jotting on a T-Chart.
This strategy lesson will be short because I want the students to have time to shop in the classroom library for two books just right and one that is not a good fit.
I reviewed the I. P.I.CK. strategy- Shortening it to just three things: Interested in, Comprehend (the Blurb,) and Know the meaning of the words the author uses. In the video clip you will see that I talk about it is important to find books that are interesting to you. I demonstrated that it is important to be able to understand the blurb on the back, and that I could read the words when I tested out the book by reading a sample paragraph or page. In my example, I showed the students a magazine I bought at the grocery store and how it related to my interest in reading about the Statue of Liberty. The point of the this was to help kids connect their interests outside of school to the opportunity to read about them in school.
Then, I sent the students off to shop for good fit books jots their notes about good fit bad fit on T-Chart.
While some students were shopping for their books, I conferred with several students who had been reading during the strategy lesson.
Here is how I conduct a conference: First, I sit down next to the student and give them a compliment on something I have observed about their reading. I take notes on my clipboard of post-its or conferrnng form so I have a record of what I'm learning about this student as a reader.
I do several things to determine if they are developing action and independence with their reading. I ask, How is your reading is going?" I ask them to tell me a bit about their book, the main character's name and what they think is the big problem the character is facing. I ask them to read a section from the book they like. I listen to their reading and notice some little thing I can teach them. I write down a hint or a tip on a post-it for them and have them keep it in their reading response notebook. An example of what I might teach them is, "Stop and think about what you have read after every couple sentences. Are you picturing it?
I check their post-it notes they have written over the last few days that should be in their reading response notebook. I look at their reading log for continuity in the titles. I look to see if the student is sticking with one book and finishing it. I check to see if they are reading at home and for how long.
To close independent reading, I asked students to share with their reading partner what ibook they are reading and why they chose it. They could also share their post-its or how they are doing with reading every night at home. Sharing with a partner or with the whole class at the end of the workshop is a way to create one more opportunity to have students sharing about their books, impress on them the importance of the post-it notes and filling out reading logs. It is a standard routine that can be tailored to the objective of the lesson. Today's objective was to support all students in selecting good fit books. Asking students to share whatbook they are reading and why they chose it reinforces the skill of picking a good fit book.