Since we'll be switching books for our new genre study, kids will need to spend time completing the books they're currently reading. I give them fifteen minutes to read their independent text, before they are shown the new books for our unit. I also like to begin with silent reading because it focuses kids and calms them down after a busy passing period.
We take a few minutes at the start of class to finish up our previous unit with a semi-final voting day. I take a silent vote (kids close their eyes and raise their hands) to choose their favorite.
When kids leave for the day, I adjust the Tournament Bracket.
To get a better understanding of this portion of the lesson, take a look at this lesson.
Today takes a bit of prep work. I start by arranging the books kids may select for our new unit all around my room. I spread titles all over the place. Take a look at this list to get some ideas:
As I introduce the task and the unit, I let students know they'll be choosing their own book for the upcoming unit, just like we've done in our memoir genre study. I say, you guys, you're no longer in Ms. Larson's room. Today, imagine you're in a book store. Kids look around confused.
Did you guys notice the books spread out all around the room? Today, your goal is to get to as many of these books as you possibly can! You'll need to preview these texts. By this time in the year, kids are very familiar with the term previewing, but depending on the class, I may do a fast review.
All the while, I continue, you'll need to fill out this Overcoming Obstacle Book Pass.
One column should be books you're drawn towards. The other column should be books that you would rather not read, based on first glance and a solid preview.
Now remember, there should be a focused vibe in the room, because everyone should be concentrating on previewing. However, you're in a book store, so you can act as you normally would. Feel free to whisper to a friend if you have a question about a text. Or maybe you've read a book your someone in the class is previewing and you want to recommend it; that is perfectly fine. Just remember, we're whispering.
As kids move around the room, I move as well, ready to answer questions about texts. Kids are very engaged in this activity! Maybe it is the make-believe aspect that totally draws them in. I try to get access to as many of the Overcoming Obstacles titles as I can. I have collected many over the years, but I also use our public library as a resource. Then I run over that night and return them, so kids will be able to check them out right after school.
At the end of the book walk, I allow kids to "gravitate towards a given title." They can start reading quietly on their own, if they'd like.
Then, I begin the book talk portion. Book talks aren't summaries; they're little interest peeking chats. I talk about a character I really related to, or a setting that was so realistic, I felt like I was ACTUALLY THERE.
I start by talking about any novel they would like; students dictate the order of the book talks. I use GoogleBooks as a great resource. I project the titles or covers on the Promethean Board, and speak about some of the higher and lower interest texts. I usually book talk between ten and twelve of the books on the list. I try to aim for books that kids won't naturally go for, maybe the cover is terrible, or it is a rare book. I also book talk novels that have been favorites in the past. This year, I'll be using "So B. It" as my read aloud, so I stay away from book talking that text. I don't want students to read it independently until after our unit is complete.
Even if you haven't read a lot of the texts, you can read the summaries to prepare ahead of time. Now I'm in my fourth year of teaching this unit, so I've read many of these stories. But when I first started, I hadn't read very many. I faked my way through the book talks. Sometimes, I even admitted to have never reading a text. I would say, I've never read this... somebody should pick it and tell me all about it! This worked to my advantage, because then kids would read the novel just to tell me all about it.
All in all, this day is supposed to build excitement, so I stay up beat and enthusiastic throughout the lesson.