Do you have a class of readers like I do? Even when I’ve had a class of students who love, often beg to read more, there are a few students who can’t seem to figure out what to read. Sometimes, they just don’t know what to read when they have a choice. This lesson is the first of many lessons that teach students that they do have a choice in what they read but in order to continue to develop their reading skills, they need to read “just right” books.
I introduce this lesson by explaining to students that when it comes to reading we all have a choice in what we read. We read signs, directions, menus, letters or emails from our friends, descriptions for our favorite toys or gadgets in magazines, etc. However, when we want to practice a skill, we need to focus on the things that will make us better. I explain to them that in 4th grade they are going to develop stronger reading skills in fiction and nonfiction texts and therefore, in school, during reading lessons, they will need to books that help them practice those skills. Today, I will teach them how to choose those types of books.
In this section, I want students to watch another student so they can genuinely hear what they, themselves might sound like when they are struggling in reading. I ask a student who is confident but an average reader. I set her up with a book that she can read successfully and give her a chance to practice reading it so that she is not shaken when she reads out loud in front of the whole class. The book that is too hard is saved for reading in front of the class.
I ask students to listen to her read a book that is too hard. After she’s done, I’ll ask the class to help me fill out a chart showing what it sounds like or what happens when the book is too hard. After the “too hard” example, I ask her to read a just right book and again ask the class to share what they noticed about that. I help them add to the list anything I think is important but they missed. For example, the 3-finger (previously 5-finger) rule stating that when you are reading a “just right” book, you shouldn’t have problems reading/understanding more than 3 words on a page. I tell students that if they use that rule then they should try it on 3 different pages.
In this part, I ask students to practice listening for reading that sounded “Just-Right”. I ask students to take out a book that they are currently reading and practice reading it with their partners. Partner A listens to Partner B and writes down what they hear using the notes from the page and then talks with their partner about whether or not they thought it was a “just-right” book. Then they switch.
Now that students have had a few examples of what reading sounds like when its “just right” and when its too hard, they have an option of checking out a book from the classroom library that they can replace their too hard or easy book for a “just-right” book.
Then I give them time to read while I check in with as many students 1:1 to make sure they are reading just right books.