Summary and Context
With the rigorous demands of the Common Core State Standards, students need to be engaged with on grade level, rich literature. This is one of the reasons why I am doing this lesson, in which students will explore our classroom library. They will choose a book, read it, and then illustrate their favorite part as they write about why they liked that part. This is a great lesson to do towards the beginning of the year to help engage students in reading for pleasure.
Prior to this lesson, students were engaged in a Unit Opener and were introduced to different books on relationships. These books are part of the classroom library which support the conceptual understanding of our theme for the next six weeks: relationships. I use some of the books as read-alouds and as mentor texts to model/demonstrate reading strategies and skills. Sometimes it is not possible to read all the books, so I want to give students time to explore and read them, and give them a chance to respond in their journals. I want to make this experience fun, too, and that is why I took the students to the library.
I have the kids sit on the lavender rug in our little library. I start the lesson by sharing the objective. I let them know that they will be able to choose a book of their liking, read it, then illustrate their favorite part as they write about why they liked that part.
After the students choose a book they will have the opportunity to sit on the floor, at tables, or the small amphitheater to read.
I want my students to start developing stamina to read books books at their independent level. In order for my students to choose books at their level, I had to do some work ahead of time for this lesson. First, I had to know their reading levels. We determine reading ability using DIBELS, the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills. My students' reading ability ranges from 1st grade to beginning of 3rd grade. Second, I had to make sure I had enough books for everyone by going to our school library and asking my principal to order books at the levels we needed. Third, I had to arrange different leveled book bins and set them on different tables so that when I called the students I could direct them to a specific table corresponding to their level.
As students settled around the room and the amphitheater, I walk around to make sure they are reading and then to help them transition them into responding in their journal. Some students will need support staying on task, especially at the beginning of the year. Also, the library offers a new setting and can be cause for distraction for some. To monitor their reading, I am keeping track of their eye movement, making sure they are not talking with their neighbor or looking around. I will remind them of the expected behavior.
To help us with time management, I brought the timer from our room and make it visible to my students. I love using this timer!
Now that my students had an opportunity to read, they respond in their journals. As they write, they can sit around the library too. As they work, I walk and monitor them by asking them what book they have read and what they are writing about - for example: WhatSheLearned. Asking them about their work shows that I care about them completing the task and that the task matters.
Here are some of their work samples:
I was very impressed by how focused the students were. They were quiet for all 20 minutes. They even read longer than the time given, and I let them continue without interrupting them. I will make sure to use the library more often to offer the students a new/different learning environment, which, I think, contributed to their focus. I liked how the students were talking about what they were reading, too.
I also feel my students were engaged because they were reading books at their instructional level. This means they were able to read it independently without my help. It is important to set aside time to make sure we are gathering books our students can read on their own. Also, the students were reading books that interested them. Having a variety of books available for them helps too. It gives them a choice.
As teachers we teach more than reading skills. We also reach reading attitudes. At the end of second grade, I want to make sure my students walk away with a love of reading, and that is part of the reason I brought the students to the library and let them read.
I do want to think through how I could add more depth to this lesson. In doing this lesson again, I would ask students to hone in on more specific story elements rather than just their favorite part. For example, I might have them choose the main character in their story and describe the character in 3-4 sentences. I would have them draw quickly their character in the middle of the page and write descriptor words for the character. This graphic organizer would benefit my students in helping them organize their knowledge. Then, I would ask them to write a descriptive paragraph about their character. After, I would have my students share their learning with a partner and finally have a few share out. I think a more specific task that requires a bit more analysis would make the lesson stronger.
I believe strongly in having students debrief their learning. It helps the students remember what they are reading, understand why they are reading it, and connect old information with new information.
I gather the students on the lavender carpet and I choose a few to share the title of their book and what they liked about their book.