Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Get Your Groove On--Read for Writing Style!

How do you begin your  day at school?   I typically begin my day by visiting Sonic for a much needed Route 44 Coke with extra ice, checking emails and blogs I follow, maybe even Pinterest.  And then I get to the important part - visiting!  My assisstant, Kasey, and I had our chat time each morning before students came into the room.  I often told Kasey that the only *bad* thing about us working together was that we had too much important stuff to talk about.  Ha!

So true!  Found this on Pinterest!
Oh yes!!

Once upon a time, my third graders completed "morning work" when they arrived, but  years ago I decided to try something different.  I thought maybe students would like to ease into their days just like I did. 

Free Reading
Perhaps my fondest memory from elementary school is of Free Reading (FR) in Sister Juanita's 4th grade class.  Each day we had 20 minutes to read a book of our choice (while eating snack, might I add).  Oh, how I lived for those 20 minutes!!  (The only drawback was the smacking coming from the girl sitting next to me as she devoured  snack.  Gross!)    I began my love affair with books during FR, so why not try it with third graders?  So one day I gathered them on the rug and we created an anchor chart for Fe procedures.  Basically, students could read anything of their choosing either independently or with a friend.  I made sure students understood their conversations had to be centered around their reading.  After practicing, I turned them lose to enjoy FR.  It was a hit! 

Fast Forward
Last summer, I had the opportunity to attend a day long workshop by Ann Marie Corgill, author of Of Primary Importance.  (BTW, she's fantastic!!!)

Of Primary Importance

She talked about her Read for Writing (RfW) time which is similar to Free Reading.  Ann Marie set aside books her students would use as Mentor Texts in upcoming Writing Units, and they read them in place of morning work.  This prepared them for the genre of writing they'd soon be immersed in.  I tried this with my Firsties, and we all loved it!  At first, I strictly held them to the procedures on our RfW Anchor Chart stating only two students reading together at a time.  But as the year went on they just seemed to gravitate towards one another in groups of 4 or 5.  At times the noise level could get to be too much and I'd glance across the room in search of guilty Firsties.  What I'd find gave me goose bumps almost every dang time!  Despite the noise level, all I could see was 18 Firsties gathered in groups and totally caught up in either reading or discussing a text.  Did I say anything?  Nope!  No way!!

 Lil' cuties!!

Gracious, where do I begin?  My students bonded with one another during RfW time.  They didn't always stick with the same friend(s) either.  Groups seemed to form mostly on book interest, despite reading abilities.  The students especially devoured non-fiction books.  They learned multiple strategies for organizing books, how to care for books and share them, how to work together to read a book, and to recommend books to one another.  And did I mention what it did for their fluency?  Ah-mazing!  R4W time played a huge role in fostering a love for reading in my students. 

A Read for Writing shelf for CCSS Unit 6...along with a few other student favorites

By the last grading term, I had Firsties approaching me during the morning and throughout the day to share interesting facts from their non-fiction reading.  In fiction reading they were making text-to-text connections, recognize story elements, and beginning to notice character traits.  This is when I was able to direct students to graphic organziers they were already familiar with from previous lessons.  I'd say, "Grab a fact sheet and record interesting facts from your book.  Then you can share it with the class!" or "Grab a story comparison sheet and complete it with your friend.  Then you can share it with the class!"  We called this work "projects" for lack of a better word.  The fact sheets became so popular we could barely keep up with sharing!  They were added to a class book (binder) and became a part of our Classroom Library.  It's important to remember that students should have had ample practice with any graphic organizer before being turned lose with it for independent or partner work.  (I follow the gradual release of responsibility model which preps the students for being able to complete assignments independently.)

If you're wondering what I'm doing during RfW time, you only have to look to the door.  I {love} greeting my Firsties one-by-one at the door every single morning -- while sipping my Sonic Coke, of course! 

If you'd like to try Free Reading or Read for Writing, take time to think through your expectations of student behavior.  I firmly believe that we must be specific with our students if we're going to hold them accountable when they get it wrong.  Create an anchor chart with your Littles and post it on the wall.  Role play --Who can show me what RfW doesen't look like?  Who can show what RfW does look like? 

Questions for Reflection:
*What is your tolerance for noise level? and How will you hold them accountable?  (One of our favorite things to say was,"First Grade is Fun-tastic!"  I would count them off 1-2-3 in my quiet voice and we'd repeat that phrase in our quite voices.  Worked like a charm...usually!  Ha!)

*Where will books RfW books be housed? 

*Do you want to limit the reading to upcoming Mentor Texts?  Or do you prefer to open up reading to anything?

*Where will students be allowed to read?

*What will be the consequences for individual students who continue to do their own lil' sweet thing?  (I simply "grounded" these students from Read for Writing, and for x number of days they had worksheets waiting on them at their seats.  Believe you me, this very rarely happens!!!)

*How will my RfW time grow with my students if I'm teaching a lower grade growth is huge?? (Be using those graphic organizers and/or thinking maps throughout the year so they'll be ready to use them on their own.  I found lots and lots of resources on TpT!  The fact sheet and compare/contrast organizer I mentioned came from Michelle Oaks of Fabulous in First.  You can find it here.)

*How will you get the class' attention when it's time for Morning Meeting or whatever you'll do next?  I used several of these attention getters I found on here on Pinterest.  While we repeated the "getter" students moved their arms in a sunburst motion and had their hands clasped in front of them by the end.  No exceptions!  I didn't give my instructions for what to do next until all were in this "listening" position.

Pinned Image

And finally, I've spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out how to share the cover of our Fascinating Facts.  That's why you see the purple bubble border below but nothing else.  Ugh!!!!!!  Anyway, you can find the cover as a free download here on TpT (hopefully)! 

My next post will be about Morning Meeting.  Yay!


No comments:

Post a Comment