Celebrations aren’t always about planning and hosting a party. Oftentimes in our classroom, we celebrate by learning the “how” and “why” behind important holidays or recognize student achievements. The lessons housed within this unit showcase work completed on a variety of “celebration days.” Several include reproducibles that were made with graphics from Kevin and Amanda’s Fonts, Teaching in a Small Town, and Melonheadz Illustrating.
Each year our school celebrates Read Across America by holding week-long Seuss themed dress up days and inviting special guest readers into each classroom. This year, I wanted to hold an old fashioned read-in. While I couldn’t bring in sleeping bags or have students come in their PJ’s, I did want to provide a laid back atmosphere and clear our whole block to do nothing but read. Yesterday, I had several dozen books set out for students to choose from. They took turns choosing partners, reading texts together, and recording on their logs. As they read, I conducted reading conferences or filled in as a partner when needed. During those conferences, I noticed two things. First, students were reading like never before. Not only were they enjoying reading with new and multiple partners, but they were reading well! However, I also noticed that when completing their logs, they were struggling to correctly identify the genre of the books they had read. While I didn’t think I could “afford” another period of uninterrupted reading, I decided it would be worth it. So we had “Day Two” of our read in, but gave it a new focus.
I asked students to pull out their binders and pencils and meet me in the front of the room. I quickly discussed the work they completed yesterday and praised them for it! I explained that while I saw students make great use of their time, I also noticed that they were struggling with genre. Today we would work to fix that struggle. Students would again choose a partner and then head to the back counter to select a book. However, they will notice that today there are fewer titles from which to choose. I removed several titles that either weren’t enjoyed or were over read. I left the titles that seemed to give students the most difficulty with genre yesterday.
While they read each text today, I want them to look for specific pieces of evidence that pointed them to the book’s genre. Sometimes books can fit into more than one category and so there may not be a clear cut answer. However, I want them to be able to back up their answers with proof from the text. I explained that I would be around to help along the way and to check in on their progress.
Students find their first partners and a place to read together. To get things started, I have a few partners select their books at a time. However, since everyone will finish reading at different times, there shouldn’t be a need to limit the number of students in the book area as we go.
While students read, I again conduct conferences. Today’s focus is all about genre. It is my hope that students can pinpoint evidence from the text along the way to help them decide on a genre.
To close the period, I ask students to join me at the front once again. They bring their binders and pencils while I bring a couple of contested texts. I ask students to tell me the genre they selected for it and their support. Students who read the selected text look back on their reading logs to find their chosen genre and then give an example from the text that supports their answer. We have a brief discussion about each and come to a consensus before moving on to the next.