Every year I love to help my students really reflect on themselves as readers--and I strive to help them understand that reading is more than just getting the words right...as we start the year I really try to help them understand all the different factors that impact the ability to read and make sense of texts...
- reading "behaviors" such as book selection and focus
- accuracy and fluency skills
- building a rich vocabulary
- an understanding of text structures
- taking the time to read and think deeply
- the ability to write thoughtful responses
- literature discussion skills
- and, of course, even more!
Once students begin to recognize that there are SO many components to reading, it becomes easier to talk about our strengths and goal areas as readers. Many of my students who struggle with one area of reading can recognize that they DO have strengths in others--and, with a growth mindset, we can start to tackle other areas with a positive attitude! In fact, we talk at length about how readers often need to revisit old goals when they start to tackle more challenging books--where accuracy and fluency might not have been a problem at an easier level, students many now need to revisit some of those strategies as they encounter new words. Learning to read is a constantly evolving process--not something that students can either "do" or "not do"...and I think it can be very reassuring to students to recognize that there isn't an "end" to the learning. We are ALL learning to read.
Over the years, I have "collected" learning targets related to all these different areas of reading...I have them all put together in little flip books which help me talk to individual students about goal setting and also to have learning targets visible easily for small groups. It has made life so easy--and really helps reinforce the complexity of reading...and helps students see what they are doing well!
So...a few years ago I started doing this "Me, as a reader" project that was inspired by Julie Ballew...if you haven't checked out her website, you MUST! To celebrate some of our "favorite" parts of reading--and to set a clear reading goal--we create these "Me, as a reader" projects that we display. After all our work, most students are ready to set a specific reading goal (note: We do not set goals like "I will read 5 books." These are specific goals related to improving the sophistication of their reading.). For those students who struggled with goals, some flipped through our learning target books, some met with me, and still others met in small groups to brainstorm.
Each student created three panels that reflected them as readers...some spent a great deal of time designing their panels at home...others kept it more streamlined. I didn't give a ton of class time for this...we focused on the reflections, got started on the "art", and then this became homework to finish.
The next day, we wrote our reflections on our cards, traced some "heads", had a mini lesson on face drawing (eyes aren't round, lips aren't lines, and noses aren't triangles!), and student finished assembling their projects.
As students finished, we displayed them in the hall for all to see. I love watching other students, staff members, and parents stop by to check out their cool projects!
I think this is a great example of a "project" that really has academic merit--it's not just a "craft"...and it really helped cement some critical reading "beliefs" with my students.
Interested in my reading goal resource? It has the goal posters that are shown above (I printed 2 per page) as well as student bookmarks for each one that can be used to give to students who are working on specific skills.