Abandoning Books

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SWBAT: understand that it's okay to abandon a book if it's not "just right."

Big Idea

Language Arts teachers never tell kids that it's okay to give up on a book, but this lesson gives intentionality to this act.

Guiding Question

5 minutes

The Guiding Question asks "Why might readers abandon books?" This is actually a new concept to me, because in the past I rallied each kid through each book--even if they wanted to abandon it. I'm wondering how much damage I did to reading engagement each time.

But letting kids know that it's okay to abandon a book every once in a while is crucial to their buy-in. They are't going to take any chances on books if they don't have an emergency exit.

Mini Lesson

20 minutes

For the Mini Lesson, we meet to share what we wrote down for our Guiding Question, and let that spill into a full-fledged discussion. As the model reader in my class, I make sure to share times that I abandon books, mostly because I don't have time to read them. Then the lesson kind of becomes a confessional of all the times my students have abandoned books.

And I tell them it's okay--as long as there's a reason. We create an anchor chart of these reasons and keep it on the wall all year. Each time a student abandons a book, I ask them in our conferring session to refer to the chart and select one of the reasons for doing so.

In their Reader's Notebooks, I also have them make a list of abandoned books--somewhere near that back. I have my own notebook and I model this, and show my students some transparency.

Work Time

20 minutes

For the Work Time, students are working on their independent reading as I'm circulating and conferring. After this lesson, there are a handful of students who want to abandon their book immediately. I make sure that they give me a legitimate reason, then I allow them to go to the library. I have to earn their trust by allowing them to abandon a book, but I make a note of each time they abandon a book, and I also have them keep track of it in their Reader's Notebooks. If this list becomes excessive, I know that I'll either have to reteach choosing "just-right" books or figure what else is going on with the student.

When I'm conferring, I just keep a little notebook of notes, but I've tried several different strategies. THe Apple app "Confer" has been successful for other teachers in my building, and I really like this conferring cheat sheet found at this site. There are also really great resources on Pinterest. I also like Patrick Allen's simple "RIP" Model of Conferring. Here's a record sheet (RIP Model) I created for this model, and used last year.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

For the reflection or Wrap Up, my students choose from one of the Reflection stems. Although, 90% of them are going to write, "I learned that Mrs. Boles thinks it's okay to abandon a book. I feel so much better!" I do want them to feel better, but it's a thin line because I don't want it to become a crutch, or an easy out. I think that building up skills on choosing a "just right" book to begin with is that much more crucial.