Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Classroom Library Questionnaire

This is a list of questions to consider and reflect on your current practices with your library.

Classroom Libraries—Essential Questions

o     Is my library an inviting place for readers?

o     Can my readers easily find what they’re looking for?

o     Are my books and bins clearly labeled?

o     How are my books organized by topic, genre, theme, etc.?

o     Are there enough just right books for students to read daily?

o     Does my library reflect the work we are doing in our classroom?

o     Does my library reflect the range of interests and abilities of my students?

o     Does my library provide opportunities for students to explore a wide variety of literature and other kinds of reading materials?

o     Does my library have enough books at each level to support all my students’ volume and growth as a reader? 

  • How will I supplement my library to meet my readers’ needs? (book room, library, partnership, etc.)

Power Point Presentations

You can access my presentations through slideshare.net at the below links!
Read Aloud- Think aloud
Independent Reading

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Interactive Read Aloud

Why Read Aloud? 
-Models good reading habits
-Think alouds teach student comprehension strategies
-Encourages a love of reading through hearing stories.
-Models fluent reading.
-Allows children an opportunity to engage in a meaningful, higher level thinking comprehension conversation.

How does it fit into my Balanced Literacy Classroom? 
-Use it as a TEACHING TIME!
-Use it to teach comprehension strategies.
-Practice old strategies taught.
-Monitor student's oral comprehension during read aloud!
-Use it in place of your Mini Lesson.
-Use it at the end of Reader's Workshop to wrap things up.

Keeping Students' Engaged and Checking Comprehension
      *I use "Silent Signals" during our read aloud.  I teach students a signal for connections, inference, questions, etc.  Students silently use the signals to let me know what they are thinking in their head while I read!

-Turn and Talk
       *At specific stopping points in the read aloud, students turn and talk with their thinking partner (someone sitting near them).  They sit "Eye to Eye, Knee to Knee".   I give them a purpose or question to discuss for 1 to 2 minutes.  As they talk I listen and assess understanding, after the chat I share out a few things I "overheard".  If students are allowed to share you loose the momentum of your read aloud and get sidetracked by students' sharing.  I suggest a quick turn and talk with the teacher wrapping things up by sharing out, quickly... no more than 4 to 5 minutes!

-Stop & Jot
      *This should be done with fluent writers.  At a stopping point in the read aloud, I may have students stop and jot down their thoughts on a part in the book, answer a question, etc.  I can then collect this and assess their understanding.  This should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes.  You can use a Stop & Jot at the end of the story more as an "exit ticket" to assess students' understanding of the story.

-Reader's Response
     *In primary grades it is difficult for students to come up with how to respond to a book on their own. I use very structured Readers' Responses.  After a read aloud, I give students a specific question or prompt (for example, What did the author try and teach us in this book?  What is the theme? or lesson?). Students then respond in writing.  This is then used as an assessment and can inform my instruction for the upcoming lessons.

-Recording Our Read Alouds
     *A class list can be kept of Read Aloud titles along with the teaching point, students can also keep a personal log.
     *Some teachers also organize Read Alouds based on their theme or comprehension strategy on a bulletin board.
Both methods provide a resource for students to use when practicing the strategies on their own.  It also helps students to create text to text connections.

Re-Reading Read Alouds
-Every student in your classroom will want to have access to the books you read aloud in class.  Therefore, it is up to you to figure out how you will make the read aloud books accessible to students.  Many of my read aloud books are very special to me and valuable!

*I keep out the 5 to 6 books I read each week out for students to access when they are in the "Library" center.  Students are only allowed to read these books when in this specific center.  It allows each child to be able to access the books.
*I talk with my students a lot at the beginning of the year about how to care for books and what keeps a book in "good condition".  I suggest you do a lot of prep work with your students before you allow them to read the books in your classroom.  The more prep work you do in the beginning will create less problems in the long run!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Leveled Library- From the Experts Fountas & Pinnell

What is a leveled book collection? 
A leveled book collection consists of books organized along a gradient of difficulty, from easiest to read to hardest to read. A level indicates a group of books that are similar to one another. The level is described by a cluster of characteristics; no text will have every characteristic listed for the level. In the gradient, we use the letter A to indicate the easiest books to read and the letter Z to identify the most challenging books. To estimate the level of a particular text, we find the cluster of characteristics that most closely represents the text and then study student responses to the text over time. As we discover more about the text through further review and work in the classroom, we determine whether the level designation is reliable or needs to be adjusted.

What features do you look at when you "level" a book?
Leveling is a complex process: one text may be challenging because of certain features, and another text may be challenging for different features. A text with simple words and concepts may be made harder or easier by factors such as length, layout, and print size. On the other hand, a text that "looks easy" because it has few lines of text and big print may be quite challenging because of the vocabulary and the difficulty or number of the concepts included.
The features we evaluate as we level a book include print and layout, vocabulary, sentence complexity, structure, content, language, themes and ideas, and all these characteristics in combination. For a more detailed description of the considerations that go into leveling, visit the Understanding Book Characteristics section

Text quoted from http://www.fountasandpinnellleveledbooks.com/Understanding/characteristics.aspx 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just Right Books

Just Right Books 

Book Shopping
-Students use their book shopping time to choose new books and return the books they've read. 
-Can be down weekly, or multiple times per week depending on your student's need. 
*Most important come up with your routine- teach it, practice it and keep it consistent!

 Choosing a Just Right Book
I use Goldie Locks and the Three Bears

Too Easy
Too Hard
Just Right

Shoe comparison!
-You need bag of all different styles and sizes of shoes.
-In front of the group, you begin to pull out shoes looking for a pair of shoes for maybe "at work" or "going to the park".  As you pull out high heels, baby shoes, you comment on how these shoes are too big, too fancy, etc.
-Finally you end with choosing the shoe that fits the purpose, you like the "look" and it fits.  You find the shoe that is JUST RIGHT!

Five Finger Test
Student opens to a random page of the book and reads the page.
Each time they come to a word they don't know, they put up a finger.
At the end of the page,
0-1 Fingers up-- MAYBE too easy?
2-3 Fingers up--- MAYBE Just Right?
4 or more Fingers up--- MAYBE too hard?

* I always say "maybe" because there are many factors that go into choosing a Just Right Book, not just knowing the words.

I choose a book
Purpose: Why do I want to read it?
Interest: Does it interest me?
Comprehend: Am I understanding what I am reading?
Know:  Do I know most of the words?  (5 finger test)

Student Book Bins

Book Bins
-A place for students to keep their self selected books all together to easily access during independent reading.   Most teachers have students keep enough books in their box to sustain them for a week of independent reading. 
-I allow students to keep 5 books in their Book Bin. 
-Storage of books bins-- I store our book bins on a book shelf.  Other teacher use the floor space, window sills, anywhere there is room! 

Book Box Storage

    -Find a place to keep the book boxes that is near the Library, but is very easily accessible.
    -You will create a routine for students to get their book boxes and that might be when other students
      are choosing new books in the library.  Whatever you choose, just make sure you consider            
       traffic flow!  

Setting Up Your Balanced Literacy Classroom

Once you have your materials....

It takes time and thought to create an effective classroom layout.  I often change my mind and end up sliding book shelves around the room.  It is well worth the time to sit down and sketch out your classroom layout.

Organizing Your Library: 
You will need many books to support independent reading in your classroom.  The goal of the library for independent reading should be to allow students to choose books easily.  You will want to consider organizing your books by levels, topic, author, or genre.  These choices will need to be made based on your instructional goals.

*Leveled Library
    - Allows students to easily access books at their level.
    - Makes it easy for you to monitor students' book choices.
    - Scaffolds students' choosing Just Right Books.  (I put their level on their book box.)
*Topic/Genre Library
    - Some books level is unavailable or fits better into a "topic/genre" section of the library.
        For example, Poetry books.
    -All the books of one topic are gathered together in a bin.

   *You can make your own, or there are many commercially created labels out there.
    -Include the word "Animals" as well as a small picture.
    -Label the outside of each bin.
    -Label each book.  Keep the label in a consistent place.  (I put my stickers in the top right corner) That way students will always know where to look when trying to return books.

I've made my own labels in the past with a ink jet printer and mailing labels.
I just got a donors choose for these Book Labels.
A good place to start is to create labels for the books you have.  However, at you can download the lables below at this teacher's website. Labels to Download

*Book Shelf Placement
    -Keep your library "open".   Avoid creating barriers with bookshelves that might make it hard for you to see students while they are in the library area.

Do This: 

Not This: