Loved That Linky! December!

It's time once again for "Loved That Lesson" linky!

This month I wanted to share a lesson (actually a "type" of lesson) that I am using for a reading intervention group.  I have a group of boys who I would say are "gray area" readers.  They do "ok" on everything we do...but I can tell they are just not comprehending at the level I want them to--or that they will need in upcoming years.  It's SO hard to find good resources to use with students for intervention groups...ideally, I would like to use short texts so that we can dig in and do a lesson in one or two sittings.  Doing full novel studies can be SO I have started using only chapter 1 and 2 of books that I think students might like.


Because I know that many of these gray area readers have struggled making the leap from short books and easy chapter books to more challenging chapter books.  They don't "get" how chapter books work...namely:
*The first chapter of books tend to set up the story, especially helping us get to know the main character.
*Each chapter in a book tends to function as its own "story" with a beginning, middle, and end.
*Sometimes stories change time or place between chapters and we need to pay attention in order to understand the story.
*Sometimes chapter books actually have more than one story going on at once.

...and more, of course!

What I want to do is create a set of lessons that help these struggling students really "unlock" the code of chapter books!  I started with this group this past week by tackling chapter one.  Here's what I did.

First, I picked a book that I thought was at an instructional level for my group.  I thought they might like this book, I have multiple copies, AND it's the first book in a series in case they like it!  I made a photocopy of the first chapter because I wanted them to be able to interact with it.

I used a trusty dusty takeout container for the crayons we would need...I created a system for color coding.
What was the color coding for?
ORANGE: To highlight important information that helps us get to know the characters.
YELLOW: Key events that are happening in the text
GREEN: Setting clues
BLUE: Character feelings and thoughts

I started by explaining my thoughts about doing a "Chapter 1 and 2 book study"...that I was going to help them learn how to read and understand chapter books better--and possibly introduce them to some books that they may want to finish on their own.

I talked to them about chapter 1 of most books...about how we learn WHO is telling the story and usually some of the other main characters.  We often learn about their personalities, their families, their likes and dislikes, and more.  I had them each grab an orange crayon and sent them off with a partner to read the chapter and to "code" in orange where we learn about the main characters.  While they worked, I did the same thing to my copy of the text.

After they finished, we came back together and compared notes about what information we learned.  We had some of the same excerpts highlighted--but not all of them.  

When we finished talking about they key character points, we moved to the other colors...and we made a discovery!  First of all--we didn't learn the setting at ALL!  The students "guessed" he was at home (though one thought he was at school) but we looked and looked and realized that there were NO clues--because the entire chapter was really TELLING us information, not showing it.  I explained to them that often this happens...that the first chapter is full of background--and not much action!  In fact, we couldn't find ANY text to highlight in yellow or green!  It was interesting...there were a few "flashback" moments and students wanted to highlight the setting of those--so we had a great talk about being careful when settings and characters are mentioned...they aren't always evidence of the PRESENT.  That seemed to be kind of an eye opener for a few in the group.

Finally, we went hunting for any evidence of character FEELINGS...we only found one--the last sentence of the chapter.  I told them that this is something authors frequently do--they leave us with either a very important event or an important feeling...something to lead us into the next chapter.

I can't wait to dig into chapter two on Monday so they can see just how different chapter 1 is...and how important it is to really read it carefully.  We will read chapter 2 on Monday, really track the events and setting clues, and then I will give them the choice about whether or not they want to take a copy to read on their own.  After that? I'm going to repeat the process with a different we can study chapter 1 and 2 again and really start to learn how chapter books break down.  Let me know what you think!  

And one more thing...I need your input!  I am looking to do a series of blog posts about math workshop--I've had so many requests!  I'd love for you to click the image below and give me your 2 cents!  It should only take a minute or two.  Thanks in advance!

Don't forget to check out the other links below!


  1. What a great idea! I have some high readers that are afraid of the thicker books! I think we'll try this during the new year to take away some of their anxiety and open their eyes to the world of larger chapter books :) Thanks!
    Mrs. Samuelson's Swamp Frogs

  2. Great Ideas! I will definitely use this with my students. I love the copy idea so they can actually write in the book, highlighting ideas are excellent! Thank you!

  3. I love the color coding. Great way to add a visual element while actively engaging them!

  4. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in your classroom. Your students are so fortunate to have a talented and dedicated teacher! BTW, the survey link doesn't seem to work. At least not for me.

    1. You are too sweet...I do my best--but MAN is it hard sometimes! Would you be willing to go try the link again? I deleted it and readded it...let's see if that helps. :)

  5. Love this idea to teach into how a chapter book is typically laid out! Color coding is a favorite of mine- so helpful! Smart stuff here!

  6. I love this idea! I think I could use this when I meet with students during conferences and use their choice books. Thanks so much for sharing!!
    Are We There Yet?

  7. This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

    Also, I promised I'd link up with you and I barely made it! *phew* Thanks for hosting this great linky!
    Upper Grades Are Awesome