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.
The PTO in our district sponsors author visits every so often. In preparation for an author visit from James Preller, I wanted to do work in my class as a way for students to get excited about the work of an author they will be able to meet. We were able to have books purchased by the PTO and will read them in class. By doing this kind of work, students will be more engaged when the author presents. This unit overall is a bit informal but goes along with their independent reading as they will be making choices on reading time, length, and book choice on their own. It also always be to see how well students are able to master the shift in the Common Core focusing on range of reading complex texts independently. The reading level of these books are definitely middle-school appropriate so this allows me to see how well they are able comprehend them independently.
On the Smartboard I have the follow guidelines to keep students focused throughout this lesson: Preller 1 Presentation and Preller 2 Presentation. I move through each slide as I move on in the lesson.
I begin the lesson by explaining to the class the purpose of this unit. I tell them that we will have an author visit and that it's important to understand his work before we hear his presentation. I then move on to showing students different books by James Preller. The books we will be working with are Bystander, Before You Go, and Six Innings. Information on these books can be found on James Preller's web-site. I show students the books by passing out copies of each book and giving a brief book talk on each book. Students will be able to choose what book to read for this unit. Giving student choose helps them be more engaged in a unit.
I give each student an index card and have them write down their first and second choices. I collect the index cards. As I am grouping them, I have students read their independent reading book for a few minutes. I can quickly make decisions on grouping based on behavior and ability. This allows me to quickly sort through the cards and make decisions immediately on which students will be in which groups reading which book.
I am very excited for an author's visit. I become such a nerd when I can meet author's, especially author's that I've read. I want to ask them a million questions, and maybe for their autograph. It's great for me and for the students (of course them!) to see how a book compares to the writer.
Students are then put into groups to work on the rest of the lesson, which is creating a plan for reading. Students are assigned to be in groups of 4 or 5. Four is a manageable number and is small enough for students to participate, but also big enough to work collaboratively and effectively. I try and avoid groups of five but based on class size, they may be needed.
I then show students the task for the rest of the lesson,Preller 3 Presentation, which is on the Smartboard. Students are assigned their groups and move into their groups. They will collaboratively decide on the following: a reading schedule and a way to show they have read. I review the dates that we will discuss the book. Since it is informal, there will not be a lot of assessments so I want students to take as much ownership as they can. By taking ownership of their learning, they will be more engaged. They will be more engaged in reading the book and hopefully more engaged for the author visit. I remind students of the dates we will be discussing the book. This helps them to create a manageable reading plan that works for them. This reading plan they will collaboratively create tells them, and me, how many pages or chapters they need to read for each discussion days.
I have students write their plan on an index card. I hold on to this as a way keep track for future work. When we are discussing the book throughout the unit, I can use this as a way to monitor the work they should be doing.