This past week in reading workshop, we spent time growing our independent reading stamina. The kids worked hard to…
- Be URGENT. (Quickly find a spot and get right to work.)
- Stay in one spot.
- Work quietly. Shhhhhh.
- Warm up to each book and point to the words when reading.
- Read the WHOLE TIME…build stamina!
The kids have gotten quite good at finding books that are “just right” to keep in their book boxes. We established the class wide habit of rereading books if they read all of the books in their book box. This led to a discussion of how readers set goals for how many books they will read. We introduced a bookmark for keeping track of this number each day. Before each reading session, the kids thought about how many books they read the day before and about the books they had in their book boxes. They then set a goal for how many books they wanted to read that day. They tracked their goal for a few days to see if the number of books they read was growing each day. This also helped them notice if they actually had picked books that were “just right”. All in all, they spent a lot of time reading this week and building great reading habits. Way to go first graders!
We are looking forward to starting our “take home” reading program in the next few weeks. The first graders will get the chance to take a book home each night. These will be “just right” books, so the students will be able to read them independently. We want these books to be effortless so that students can gain confidence in themselves as readers. We are finishing up all the preparations for this program and we will let you know as soon as it is up and running.
This week, we began readers’ workshop. This is such a wonderful time in our classroom. We have enjoyed reading some great stories together and we have started building the foundation of our independent reading time. Readers get better at reading by practicing, so we focused this week on building their independence for reading by themselves (read to self time). We are working together to figure out the best routines that will help us be successful during this time. So far we have the following:
The kids have learned how to pick books that interest them and are “Just Right” for them. We use the five finger approach. The students pick a book and then open to any page. They read one page and every time they come to a word they don’t know, they would put one of their five fingers up. If they were left with 4 or 5 fingers up at the end of that one page, then the book is too tricky. If they have 3 or less fingers up, then the book is “Just Right”! It has been fun to see their confidence and enthusiasm build with their independent reading time as we practice picking out and reading books each day.
As we added more ‘just right’ books to our book boxes each day, we also worked on picking a good spot in the room to read that wasn’t going to be too distracting. The kids have been working hard to find spots that aren’t too close to other first graders where they can get right to work.
We want to help them read the whole time, so we will give them a sticker for the side of their book box to be their reminder. The sticker tells them that they should: FIRST, empty out their book box. SECOND, warm up to read a book. THIRD, read the words of that book. Once they finish a book, they put the book back into their book box, so that they could keep track of which books they had read.
Just right books are critical to developing readers. Reading is like riding a bike. Books that are too easy are like downhill riding, we read them too fast. Books that are too hard are like uphill riding, they are exhausting and skills do not improve. Just right books are like smooth road riding, there may be some small bumps, but we can handle them.
Scholastic Book Wizard is a wonderful free tool for finding these just right books. You can search by level, title, topic, and/or author. To make sure that the books are appropriate for your child, start with the guided reading level. (You can email me if you aren’t sure what level your child is reading.) Next, narrow your search by topic or genre. The Book Wizard will then suggest many titles that fit your search. Use this personalized booklist at the library or bookstore to stock up on some great just right books for your child.
As we begin school, I will be checking in with my former reading students. Based on the results of formal assessments, students may qualify for additional reading support. I will contact families regarding this support by the end of September.
In the meantime, you can prepare your child for these busy first weeks by establishing a consistent reading time at home. You can vary this time by having your child read to you or by reading to your child. Remember to have your child read books that are at a “just right” level. “Just right books” can be read easily, with fewer than 5 tricky words per page. Also check to make sure that your child understands the progression of the story. When reading at home, it is better to choose a book that is easier than harder for your child. so that reading time is fun and builds reading confidence. These practices will help to raise a child who chooses to read not just for school, but for enjoyment.
I look forward to checking in with my reading students! If you have any questions, please contact me at school.
This week I want to highlight a special reading resource that we have, Raz-Kids. Through a generous gift from our Parent Club, our first and second graders have access to this great leveled book website. Teachers have set up independent reading level accounts for their students in Raz-Kids. While it can be difficult to find just right books at the library or bookstore for beginning readers, this website allows students to listen to or read many great books. Students can also record themselves reading a book or they can take a quiz to check their comprehension. As an added incentive, students can collect “stars” which can be traded for accessories on an online reading rocket. When students have completed the books within a level, they will automatically progress to the next reading level.
Recently, Raz-Kids has expanded to mobile access with an iPad, Android 2.2, or Kindle Fire! This app is free and more information can be found at this link: Raz-Kids is Mobile. At this point the mobile version has just the listen to or read options. We hope that Learning A-Z will soon add the recording option and the quizzes.
If you need information regarding your Raz-Kids account, contact your child’s classroom teacher. Check out this great website today!