Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time. This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.
Reading needs to be at the center of the classroom in order to create life-long readers and one way to do that is tie it directly into your instruction. In this lesson I've tied it into my instruction by having students reflect on the reading they have done this marking period (and they will do this for each marking period as the year progresses). Students are able to think about themselves as readers and this identity is key in becoming a reader. The ideas for this lesson came from a valuable resource I use often called Book Love by Penny Kittle. I highly suggest picking it up. Don't hesitate, do it now!
The first part of today's lesson has students determining how to judge the difficulty of a book. We begin by working in groups but then move on to independent practice. This helps students to come up with a common language, which they will need for the rest of the lesson. I begin the lesson by pulling up the Marking Period 1 Reading Reflection Directions on the Smartboard. For this section, we will work with the first four slides.
I have students order the books that are in front of their group based on difficulty. Before class, I made a pile of books for each group. Since this is towards the end of the first marking period, I know the students already so I make groups based on varied ability. There is really no right or wrong answer for this section of the lesson so varying ability in the groups helps students to see different viewpoints. The piles of books are based on different topics, length, genres, vocabulary, and so on. I make sure I pick about 8 or 9 books from my classroom library (this also helps students to see books they may be interested in reading) of varying difficulty so students will have a lot to talk about. Students will work together to try and order these books based on difficulty. This allows students to start to internalize what makes a book difficult, which they will need for the rest of the lesson.
Sometimes the groups come up with an agreement easily and that's great. Sometimes they don't. If they are not coming up with an agreement I would need to meet with the group and figure out why. It's okay if group members have different opinions but are they communicating effectively or just arguing with each other? If a group has legitimate differences, that's fine by me as I know reading is very personal.
As a class, we will then discuss what makes a book difficult and create a list of varied criteria. This list will serve as the cornerstone for the work students will be doing as they work on their reflection later in the lesson. This varied criteria that we usually come up with is listed on slide three and reflects the group work done during this section.
The next section is devoted to explaining the steps and modeling the reading reflection to the students. It's important to give students time to think about the work they have done and make goals for the future. Students need to be active in this kind of process in order to internalize the joy of reading.
I keep the Marking Period 1 Reading Reflection Directions on the board. I have students list the books they have read this marking period based on difficulty. Number 1 would be the most difficult. Since we have a list of criteria already (from slide three), students should have no problem thinking what makes a book difficult for them. It will definitely vary. Some students may think vocabulary should be at the top while others would think length is number one. As long as students are thinking critically about themselves as readers, there is no right or wrong answer.
For students who need assistance, I show them my book difficulty list. I can talk them through my thinking and explain why I ordered the books they way I did. This helps them to see how it can be done. For students who still need assistance, I can meet with them and we can figure out the top three things that would make a book difficult. From there, we can then look at their list and see where the books fit based on the criteria. This video explains how to use this type of modeling: Explanation Of Modeling.
Once those lists are created, I think move on to the last few slides and explain what the reading reflection will need include. Along with the list of books based on difficulty, they will need to think and answer questions based on their reading rate, set goals for themselves and use all of that to create a reading reflection.
Reading rate is based on the number of pages they read this marking period. Students determine that based on the inventory they should have been keeping track of in their notebooks. Sometimes students need to look up page numbers online and that's fine. The goals are incredibly varied. Some are based on amount of pages and others by genre. I am fine with this variety of goals. If a student wants to make an reading goal it shows me they want to read.
With time permitting, students will begin to work on writing these reading reflections in their notebooks, or type them up if they prefer. Students are aware of all the requirements so there should not be any questions with what is needed. I keep up the Marking Period 1 Reading Reflection Directions on the board and students can also access it from my web-site if needed. I keep up the fourth slide which explains exactly what students need in this reflection.
Here are two examples of student work for today's lesson:
I try and have students complete these reading reflections as soon as possible. I encourage students to hand them in the next day but I will also accept them the day after. It's important to try and review this as soon as you can so you can see how students see themselves as readers and you can also work with them to help them create a plan to reach the goals they have listed. If the goals are too big, you can meet with them to figure out more realistic goals as well.
This video explains what I would look for looking through the reflection: Student Reflection MP 1 Explanation