Thursday, July 17, 2014

Making Reading a Social Event - small groups and Post-its

I'm excited to join up with Jennifer from Teaching to Inspire 5th, Sara from Miss V’s Busy Bees, and Alyssa from Teaching in the Fast Lane.  I'll admit, I haven't read the book, as I've just found out about it.  But I requested it from my public library today, and should have it in time to read on our lengthy car trip next week!

But this week's topic is one I'm very excited about.  I've always told students that one of the best things about watching a movie with a friend is talking about it afterward.  Since most students read books on their own, they are missing out on being able to share it with others.  When I moved back up to 4th grade last year, they had a collection of about 50 novel sets (not all complete class sets).  At the end of the first quarter, I created three different groups (differentiated) to read novels together.  I guided all groups through this process, and we worked on how to use Post-its to mark places while reading, and how to share those ideas effectively each day.  I really wanted to encourage participation, so we made the Post-its a quick activity.  Using the small (1 1/2" x 2") Post-its, students would simply label with a question mark and place by something they didn't understand, a crystal ball (quick sketch) when they predicted, a "wow" by something that shocked them, etc.  Each day, these Post-its helped drive discussion, and were fun for students.

From this point forward, students were able to, and encouraged, to continue reading books with a small group.  I organized our 50+ novels sets by taking 4 copies of each, and placing them in baskets on a designated book shelf.  To help groups select books, I made a folder they could look through that was organized by book level, and had screenshots of each book from Accelerated Reader's AR Bookfind website.  Here are some of the sample pages:

There was definitely some fine tuning as the year progressed, but overall it was a big success.  The biggest proof for me was in the average AR quiz scores on books that were read in groups.  This format is more engaging, holds students accountable for reading (they set their own pace - sometimes with my guidance), and the daily discussions help deepen understanding.

I love reading the ideas from others so far in the link that will help me improve this for next year.  My biggest goal is to create a space for students to review the books they read from these selections.

One more quick note, towards the end of the year I would use this to help promote Scholastic book orders.  All points earned would go towards adding a new novel set of 4 books to add to our collection, and the students got to select the book!

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