Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Boxes and Texts for Getting Started with Readers Workshop

Do your students have book boxes? Book totes? Book bins? Book bags? The container doesn't matter a bit.  One year I used little plastic totes from the dollar store, but for the past couple of years, I've used plastic boxes. I purchased the boxes in three different colors to help each of my young students find the right box, and I labeled them with student names. I remind my kindergartners to remember which color their boxes are. Then, they have a fewer number of box labels to check. I know, it sounds pretty basic, right? It's not. Once students know which color box to look for, they can find the correct box more quickly.

Book Boxes

It's sometimes challenging to find a place for book boxes in the classroom. Luckily, I have a very large room this year, and I was able to place them all in one area. In the past, I've had to put some on one side of the room and some on the other. It actually worked just fine! And there was an advantage to storing the boxes in different places in the room: no crowds when it's time to get the boxes out or put them away.

I usually begin the year by selecting books for each student for the first week of Readers Workshop. But this year, my class is pretty amazing, and I let them do the shopping. I presented lessons on how the library is organized, and then I let them go. At the beginning, I let them choose eight books for their book boxes. Later in the year, they are allowed to choose more.

After students had chosen books, I taught a couple of lessons on "Three Ways to Read a Book."  I got the idea when I attended a Daily 5 Workshop, but I've changed it from their model a bit. For one thing, when I read the books, I make a chart that includes a picture of each book I read. When I teach students the three ways to read a book, I like to use books that are similar in some way for each lesson. One year, I used three different frog books. One was appropriate for showing how to read the pictures, because it had complex illustrations and too many words for most first graders. Another was a book that had very simple, repetitive text, and I showed the students how to look and point at every word while the read. The third book was a story that we had already read for fun in class. I used it to show how to retell the story.

This year, I chose sets of three books by one author. This chart shows the books by Eric Carle  and the books by David Shannon. For demonstrating how to read the pictures, I used Mr. Seahorse and Good Boy, Fergus. To model how to read the words, I used Have You Seen My Cat? and No, David. And for retelling, I used Duck on a Bike and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Mr. SeahorseGood Boy Fergus


Have You Seen My Cat?No, David!


The Very Hungry CaterpillarDuck on a Bike


Three Ways to Read a Book 2013

I'll continue adding another set or two of books to our chart, because I think it's good to review those three ways several times at the beginning.

So after students selected books and I taught the three ways to read a book, it was time to get going on the important part: reading! I use the rules for Read to Self from The Sisters:

1. Read the whole time.

2. Stay in one place.

3. Get started right away.

I modeled and had my students demonstrate each one. My favorite rule is "Read the whole time." We had a little discussion about how you can't talk if you're really reading. And you can't look around the room if you're really reading. And we discussed what to do if someone else in the class isn't following the rules. In my class, I tell the students that they should ignore anyone who tries to talk to them during Readers Workshop. If the person is really persistent, I give them the option of showing the quiet sign (index finger held to lips), but not saying anything and getting right to work. I absolutely love demonstrating this each time. Today, I had a student sit and read a book while I was the naughty student who was trying to distract him."

"Pppssssssst!! Dean! Dean!... Dean! I'm talking to you! ..... Dean! Dean! Dean! Look at the cool pictures in my book, Dean! Look at the funny dog getting on the bus. Dean! LOOK! DEAN!"

Omg. It was awesome. Dean just kept on reading and completely ignored me. He did it so well. And then he finally showed me the quiet sign. It was hilarious, but completely effective. The kids got it.

Each day I assign places in the room to read. It takes a few minutes, but it's totally worth it for kindergarten and first grade. I have several comfy chairs, a few bean bag chairs, a couple of piles of pillows, two tiny tables and tons of floor space and many desks. I send students to different places in the room, and in the case of desks and the floor, I just try to keep the children separate from each other as much as I can.

The students are to take their book boxes to their reading places and "get started right away.

Omiword. Today was the second day of Readers Workshop in my class. My students are so thrilled with the books in their book boxes, and they got started right away. They all sat, and picked up books and... read. Yes, those were the instructions, but it just doesn't always happen as quickly and easily as it did today. Often at the beginning of the year, my students can't even read for two minutes without someone talking or playing or getting up to walk around the room. Today?! Eighteen minutes. It's unbelievable. This group loves books!

Happy Friday, Teacher Friends! The long weekend is nearly here!

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