And, since it's 4th quarter, of course we're trying something else new in reading - a revamp of the vocab format AND the reading format! Maybe it makes you excited that we're always changing things up. Maybe it makes you terrified! Either way, rest assured that this is all in my quest to figure out the best, most productive method to make your student smarter! The kids seem really excited about these changes, so that's a good sign....
First, if any of you sat down with your students last night to check out the reading "worksheet," you may have been flabbergasted.
"How is my child going to figure out what the right answer is for THAT question??!!!"
Hopefully your student assuaged your fears by explaining a few things to you (and if not, then allow me!):
1. This is NOT a "worksheet" in the usual sense. This "worksheet" (and it's friends!) are more like "guiding questions" to encourage the students to think critically about the novel as they read. That's why the questions were so open-ended or skill focused. Instead of getting a score based on correct/incorrect answers, your student is getting a completion score - did he/she develop thoughts about each of those guiding questions? Great! Full credit!
This makes some kids uneasy. In a world where they've always been told to find the single right answer on a reading worksheet, this new "what are your thoughts" style is a little scary. For other kids, this is the best thing ever - no fear of getting something wrong because they misunderstood or interpreted it wrong?! AWESOME!!
2. This sheet of guiding questions isn't a "one and done" deal. We'll be using these sheets daily in class to help us facilitate class discussions about the novel. The best part of reading a book in a group is getting to talk it over with each other, and we've been missing that aspect so far this year. So now, with the completed guiding questions in hand, we have a place to begin our discussions. The kids also got post-it notes to use while reading so they could mark areas they found confusing, exciting, or thought provoking; now we can talk about all those things, too!
So, along with more thoughtful reading, we will be spending 15-20 minutes of class each day discussing the book. Students will also get participation points for speaking in class and will be able to earn additional points as they write down new thoughts they may have as we discuss.
Secondly, to help the kids out with reading, I've pledged to give them the last 10-15 minutes of class to read the assigned section of the novel in any way they choose. They can buddy read, silent read, small group read, watch my video on YouTube, or sit with me and I'll read it aloud with/to them. This gives all students the freedom read how they will learn it best - and I love that!! We will read a new section Monday-Thursday. On Fridays we'll take vocab quizzes, discuss, and write summaries of what we read during the week. (Summary writing may seem like a mundane skill, but research shows that effective summary writing can increase a student's reading skills drastically!)
Thirdly, students will get a comprehension worksheet (the good old, "find the right answer in the book" style) every few days (I'm thinking over Fridays, honestly) just to check in with how they are doing with the plot and basic ideas of the novel. This worksheet will cover the chapters and sections we've read over the last week and won't be very long, I promise. (Think 10-12 questions MAX.)
Finally, vocabulary is getting an overhaul! While the basic idea remains the same (5 words, practice via worksheet and in-class game, quiz to assess understanding), we will be doing 5 new words every other week - we'll spend the "learning" week working only with those 5 words, and instead of taking a quiz on Mondays AND Fridays, we'll only take a quiz on Friday. The alternate week then we will spend reviewing vocab from the previous weeks. We'll play a review game, do a review worksheet, and then take a review quiz on that Friday. I think that this format will allow the kids more time to really learn the words in depth. The kids are excited because it means 1 quiz a week instead of 2!
The last few weeks of reading (the beginning of May-June?) will be spent doing an independent novel study. More info on that will be coming soon!!
I'm sorry I'm so wordy. If anyone has spent any time with me in person, you know that I really do talk a LOT. But on the bright side, this is probably what makes me a good reading/language/writing teacher, right?! (Yes. The answer is yes....)
We're starting Ancient Rome in Social Studies and will spend most of April with that, discovering some awesome landmarks, new advancements in government and law, and some cool cities that double as their own countries. This will allow us to wrap up the year with one of my favorite sections: Medieval Europe. We'll learn about knights, feudalism, and make some pretty awesome Coat of Arms projects!!!
Thanks for visiting and catching up on the new and improved reading format. I'm excited to see how this all plays out, and I'll be asking the kids for feedback about it, too. I'd love to hear from you, as well, so feel free to email me as the weeks go on and let me know how things are going on your end! Until then....HAPPY FRIDAY!!