Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Snapshots of Reading Instruction in Our Third Grade Class

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Introducing... The Book of Books
As each new day of third grade begins, students update their "Book of Books." We call it the "Book of Books" or "BoB" rather than their "Reading Log" or "Reading Journal." Students update their BoB. by recording any books they have started or finished. They are responsible for recording the title, author, date completed, and genre. When students aren't sure which genre a book is it sparks a conversation that carries over into reading instruction time.

Authentic Reading is Making Recommendations to Other Readers
We try to make our reading instruction as authentic as possible. How do adult readers find books they may enjoy? They talk to their friends. Our readers do a stellar of job of rating and recommending books for other students. When students finish reading a book that came from our shelves, they grab a post-it and put their name on it and write the number of stars they would rate it out of 5. Then we display that book somewhere on the shelves so another student can pick it up when he or she needs to start a new independent reading book. So far the system has worked really well and students are picking up many of the books their peers have read and enjoyed!

The $64,000 Dollar Question: What Do Good Readers Do?
Most of our reading mini-lessons are framed around idea of: "What do good readers do?" Students have a chart (below) in their Book of Books that they update each time we learn a new principle of good reading. I'm all about simplicity and this chart keeps lessons simple and the message, straightforward. Students feel a sense of accomplishment by filling up their charts with good behaviors that they can learn and practice to become better readers. We refer back to the principles frequently and reinforce the skills that we discuss. 

All Plans Are Subject to Change

That's my new motto. 

I've heard it said many times that the best teachers are flexible. Great teachers roll with the punches. They identify what's working and what's bombing during a lesson. They gauge how students are responding while they are teaching, and they adjust on the fly.

The Internet and technology are wonderful sources for the classroom. But they can also be big variables. For example, on Monday I planned to teach a geography lesson on Ancient Greece. I had Google Earth all queued up. And then--- KABOOM-- the thunderstorm rolled in and the Internet cut out.

So we rolled with it and focused instead on identifying geographic traits from a wonderful Powerpoint of present day Greece that my good friend Sarah Tisdale provided who lived there for a year. I let the children watch the Powerpoint slideshow and react to it. They called things out that they recognized and discussed their reactions with their classmates. Sure, it was a little chaotic at first. But it got the conversation started. Then we went back through and used the slides to describe Greece's geography.

We discussed that "acropolis" is a Greek word meaning
high city.
We discussed the meaning of the word peninsula. The Greek
mainland is a peninsula but there are many small peninsulas along the coast.

Olive trees grow on the rocky mountainsides.