Friday, July 12, 2013

Getting Ready for a Year of Reading

One thing I know to be true about fourth graders and intermediate students is that there is no ONE thing true about fourth graders and intermediate students.  It seems like the longer I teach, the more compelled I am to find ways to group and individualize for students, but I have to admit--it is NOT easy for me.  It isn't that I don't KNOW who the students are or what to do--it's that whole "structure" or organization piece I mentioned yesterday!

The one area I feel I do a pretty good job of this in in readers workshop--especially to get the year started.  I really value students being able to work independently, and some of them--especially strugglers who have received a LOT of interventions--often have some learned helplessness.  I spend the first few weeks of school working very hard to teach routines and processes and to get my students more independent and successful with their reader's workshop time.

I went back to my copy of 

to read a little more about one of the key elements of the CCSS--Standard 10.  It is one that is inherently vague and I think it's easy to gloss over it and say, "I do that."  But do we?

When I went back into the text, it talks about the standards 1 and 10 as being the "sides" of the ladder holding up all of the other standard "rungs" and I kind of like that analogy.  We must help students read more complex texts in order to accomplish all that the CCSS wants us to--but it won't happen without careful scaffolding by us. Let's be honest...we meet with kids in small groups.  We do picture walks.  We preteach vocabulary.  PRONOUN CHECK!  Maybe WE do too much!  After all, we can't sit next to them and "frontload" their standardized tests, can we?

So . . . I have been on a quest in recent years to really and deliberately TEACH my students how to be independent workers, thinkers, readers, and problem solvers.  I really want them to be reflective about their own needs . . . how to seek out help when they need it . . . how to pick "just right" books and know when they are not making good book choices . . . how to set goals and reflect on them . . . how to study their own behaviors and work to make changes.  I think it's why I love doing reading logs and status of the class so much--they help students be reflective on what they are doing.  We've all had the students who wanted to read Harry Potter and weren't ready...and we've all had those who are reading Magic Treehouse.  Only Magic Treehouse. Again.  We need to be deliberate in how we help those kiddos make their book choices.  

I've taken some of these resources from the beginning of the year and put them together in a little package that you might find helpful if you feel you want to change up how you "launch" your independent reading for the year.  There are TONS of amazing resources out there--but I know what has worked for me and I have finally put it all together.  I hope you like it!  

Thanks for stopping by!  


  1. Pathways to the Common Core is one of my favorite reads. I love the breakdown of standards and rational that is laid out.


    1. It really is good--but it takes concentration! I skimmed it all the way through and then went back and reread parts in more depth. I need to go do that again! :)

  2. I think the best we can do is keep showing them books, keep talking about books, and provide them with lots of opportunities to read! And we need to know their likes and dislikes so that we can help them find good books.
    As far as doing too much for them, I give them an assignment and then walk away from the group. I come back a few minutes later to see how they're doing. Otherwise they depend on me to get them going. And that doesn't teach anything except dependence!

    1. I agree! We have to help them get to be self-starters and problem solvers!

  3. I've always said that up through 3rd grade we tend to read the directions, hand hold, and hover a bit over the kids. This habit then becomes expected in 4th grade. Not me! I work to break the kids of this habit to make them become independent (sort of!). I find that if the kids read the directions out loud they often get what to do!
    As for reading, I won't ever give up read aloud time or independent reading. We call it OTTER time, Our Time To Enjoy Reading, as we are otters! I give book talks, read the first in a series, but not the rest, and some find the next to read.
    PS-Fourth Grade Studio I think I have to marry you...thanks for the resource!

    1. Kelly--thank you so much for your kind post! I am glad to see that you and I are on the same page!