September 10, 2015

What do good readers do?

I'd like to take a moment to talk about how I structure my reading and writing program for the first few weeks of the school year.  

We're going to spend the first 20 or so days of school discussing what good readers do. This means from now to mid-October, as part of my writing program, students will be writing about their reading. I have found this method of Literacy instruction to be very effective in building strong readers and writers from the start. 

When we talk about what good readers do at the start of the year, we strengthen the foundation for a life-long love of reading AND we teach students that reading is thinking; it's active and not something we just do without, well, thinking about it!  

I didn't come up with this 20 days of good habits idea on my own. It's from a teacher resource called, Guiding Readers and Writers  by Irene C Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. They're the superstars of literacy and I pretty much follow their chapter called, "Getting Started" to a 'T'.  

Fountas and Pinnell lay out 20 key lessons for the first 20 days of school and although I cover each of them, I haven't quite figured out how to do it in 20 days. It usually takes me around 30 days.  But the time we spend on this is meaningful and oh so worth it.  By focusing so intently on what good readers do now, I get the time spent back later in the year. 

As a result of these 20 lessons, students know how to think critically about what they've read, provide evidence to support their ideas and to form deep connections to texts and even to articulate with confidence why they couldn't. This all helps prepare students not only for writing EQAO but for the demands of upper grades when stating an opinion or idea without supporting evidence just won't cut it. 

The lessons run from "How we take care of books" to "Writing about questions you still have after reading a book".  

A few years ago, I turned my instructional focus to having my students write non-fiction texts, since evidence shows it's the kind of writing students will need to master in upper grades and post-secondary education. It's great to be able to write stories and journals, but the truth is, most of the writing we do as adults is of the non-fiction genre. 

Since good readers are always good writers, I hope you look forward as much as I do to watching my students grow in both areas.  

Please watch the blog for regular updates about the different habits students have learned.  

So far, we've talked about:  

  • how we care for books in the class Library
  • how we read silently each day, without disturbing others 
  • what does "real" reading look like? 

Coming in Week 2: 
  • good readers read a variety of books
  • good readers choose books at their reading level 
  • good readers use a variety of strategies to determine if a book is their level 



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