As you guys know I’m a former teacher by trade! I have a long love of reading and literature. After taking some classes this year on improving literacy I thought I’d share how to make a Classroom Literacy Initiative that your students will love and that I came up with! Check out all the fun the kids will have and do you own Classroom Literacy Initiative.
Reading Interest Gauge
The first thing I did was to create a Reading Interest Survey for my readers. This gives you so much good information on your students. You can see my Reading Interest Survey for you here. Why a Reading Interest Survey? Because it will give me valuable insight into my students life and their ability to learn at home. As a teacher I want to know whether reading is important in their home. My survey is set up to find out their reading habits. This survey will also give me insight into their home life and help me gain knowledge of things that they may or may not have access to for completing their homework. By asking how many books do you own and do they check out library books can give me insight into whether reading is important to the parents. Asking them what they like to read is helpful to me so I can refer them to other books in the same genre or maybe pair them with a friend who likes the same books so they can read or discuss similar books together. If I know whether they like to be read to or if they prefer reading independently can tell me a bit more about what their level might be. Are they needing to be read to or do they want to do all the reading on their own? They might benefit from a listening center to absorb more of the book if they’re not skilled readers yet. For younger grades I can do this survey with them and write down their answers. The older students can do this by themselves There is always method to our madness and projects that we do as a teacher.
The next segment is how do we record their goals and ideas? Digitally or Handwritten?
For my classroom, I plan to do both digital records and a handwritten notebook too. Digital records are good because my child lost everything at school. This is definitely one of those ways to reduce clutter and yet still allow them to get their writing about their book into digital form. This way I can still conference with them about what they’re doing but it’s all online. I can save their work and will be able to see them advance month after month. I am not going to have to print and waste paper either. Those are two huge wins in my book.
I want the offline pen and paper notebook as well. This will be where they can find vocabulary words they can jot down as soon as they find it. They can also take notes about what they want to write about in their online journals later so that they do not forget. I want them to be able to set goals and attain them and a great way to do that starts with writing it all down. If they see it written down then they are more likely to want to make it happen. Especially if they are looking at that goal day after day as they work in their journals.
Here’s what I include in our journals.
Reading Log: When a book is picked up, it goes into the log. This helps me see if there is a pattern of books being dropped uncompleted. It also allows me to see how long students are taking to complete books, and how they’re perceiving the genres and levels of difficulty.
Books to Be Read: I encourage my students to use this section during share time when a book of interest is mentioned. It prevents students from hoarding a book in their personal book bin, when another student could be reading it during that time.
Guided Reading/Book Club: There is a lot of flexibility on utilizing this section, but I really enjoy the guidelines on working in small groups.
Reading Reflection Letters: Using the workshop approach, I ask students to complete a weekly reading reflection the day before meeting with me. So, for example, if you are going to meet with me on Wednesday, Tuesday would be the day to stop and reflect in your notebook. It’s also a good time to make sure the reading log is updated. Students are free to write these letters during our reading or writing block.
The reading reflection letters are such a great way for them to let me know how they’re feeling about what they’re reading and I should be able to see patterns emerge of books that they’ve stopped reading or lost interest in and encourage them to not pick up those types of books any longer. The connection between reading and writing is so valuable. I want them to deepen those thoughts on what they read by writing it down. This in turn helps them read more independently and hopefully with a more open questioning mind. After all I want to know what they are excited to learn and this would be a way for them to tell me. I want them to have a new vocabulary page in their notebook as well. Then I want to have a time during the day where we all try to use a new word that we had written in our journals. The link to be writing and reading is just so deep. I want them to be thinking while they’re reading and this can close that gap of getting close with reading.
The next segment is how to get your students excited about reading.
Roald Dahl Author Study
Nowadays it’s all about Author Studies I know my students will love this idea. Here’s how it works. I chose Roald Dahl for my author study. I found so much information out there and I know many different levels and ages of kids will love to do a study on him. One of my favorite helpful Roald Dahl author guides is this one put out by Penguin. You can also find on this site an nice list of ethemes related to Roald Dahl. An author study is a great way to pump up your class and get them excited to read! After looking at his biography I learned he was a newspaper columnist as well as an author of books. You could do a week or two on the difference between a journalist and an author. There’s such a big difference there. You could do a word study on his made up words. The BFG was one of my favorite for my kids to read and we loved talking about his snozzcumber! Have the students make up words and use them in the story. Then we use context clues to figure them out. If you’ve not figured out yet I get pretty excited thinking about all the possibilities of an Author Study.
For this type of assignment they will do the research in groups. Maybe at the beginning of the year we break into 5 groups of four and set our author studies for the year. Then we all vote on which one we do first. We can vote again for the next 9 weeks. We can do math with our author studies. How many pages do we read per day to get our books read? Oh my ideas are endless on this topic. As a blogger I can tell you that tweeting to your favorite author and then patiently waiting for them to tweet back would be so amazing for the kids. As a huge twitter fan I know how exciting this would be. Obviously we can’t do that with Roald Dahl but you can with many other authors. Just search google, twitter, pinterest and find an author who would be happy to skype with you and share your love and joy of reading with the kids. The kids would want to read after listening to their favorite author talk to them about the writing process.
In addition to the Author Study you can incorporate the Global Read Aloud. I think that the kids would be excited to use this as a out of the classroom connection. To me the goal is everything about this project. “The goal of having classrooms and schools throughout the world connect by reading the same book. During a six-week period, teachers can choose to make as many or as little connections, using tools such as Skype, Twitter, blogs, and even regular mail. To begin, get a copy of the chosen book, read it aloud to your class, and then sign up at the Global Readaloud Web site.” As a blogger it makes me excited to think about the information that is out there for me to find to help teach my students. This is definitely something that I know we’ll look forward to doing next year when I go back into teaching. I joined the facebook group so I can read more about it. It’s exciting the way the world now comes to the classroom simply through the internet. You can learn more about the Global Read Aloud here.
First my 5 Literacy Goals for 3rd grade
Literacy goals for your classroom are so important.
Goal 1 Establish reading workshop routines. I will develop community, stamina and enthusiasm for reading and begin strategy instruction (standard). Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R) Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Set up my class library
Self monitor reading log
Goal 2 Set up writing workshop routines (open lesson, writing time, closing, and sharing)
Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.
Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.
Establish a classroom culture of writing
Develop writing enthusiasm and stamina
Ideas, organization, word choice
Establish independent writing time
Set up writer’s notebook
Goal 3 Develop routines for word study
Continue to develop phonics skills: digraphs, blends, short vowel patterns, long vowel patterns
Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
Identify and know the meaning of the most common prefixes and derivational suffixes.
Decode words with common Latin suffixes.
Decode multisyllable words.
Read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.
Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.
Read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.
Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary
My fourth literacy goal is to incorporate more digital media into our classroom learning. It is my dream to set up a classroom blog and let students take turns writing in it. This could be a great way to share our learning with our parents. We would even then have to do some phototography lessons as well as lessons on editing the photos. We would incorporate that reading and writing should intertwine and do in so many ways throughout our life.
(Benchmark 3: The student can communicate the results of research and learning with others using digital tools. Learning Targets (Type) 2.3: a. I can show my thinking using digital tools (interactive whiteboard, document camera). (K) Benchmark 4: The student can explore how technology has expanded the learning environment beyond the traditional classroom. Learning Targets (Type) 2.4: a. I can compare how past and present cultures used technology to improve their lives. (K,R) 3rd Grade Technology Standard 3: A student must apply digital tools and skills with creativity and innovation to express his/herself, construct knowledge, and develop products and processes. Benchmark 1: The student can use digital tools for personal expression. Learning Targets (Type) 3.1: a. I can independently create a project using digital creativity tools (Kidpix, Interwrite board drawing, Tux Paint, etc.). (P) Benchmark 2: The student can use various digital media to share information and tell stories.)
I would love to do a grant or choose to donate program to get my classroom 5 iPads that I can put the Kindle app on. Then I can purchase 5 books to download and keep on them all year long. This way if they do not have a book to read I can give them one. I would encourage them to read silently as soon as their classwork is done. We can even then incorporate learning apps so that they can also get on them as time permits to get better at skills that they need reinforcement on. (Benchmark 2: The student can identify and explore safe, legal, and responsible use of digital collaboration and communication tools. Learning Targets (Type) 2.2: a. I can demonstrate safe and appropriate behavior when using digital environments and tools to communicate. (S) b. I can explain when it is appropriate to use a personal device. (K) c. I can explain cyber-bullying and strategies to get help. (K) d. I can demonstrate understanding of our District Acceptable Use Policy. (K) e. I can describe ways to stay safe on the Internet. (K) f. I can describe why it is important not to provide personal information online. (K) g. I can explain the importance of respecting the privacy of others’ information and digital workspace.)
My fifth goal involves phonics skills and word study. As a former first grade teacher I know how huge phonics is in reading. They should still be learning about blends and digraphs and other areas in the third grade. I want to help them develop routines to study words and we can do that in our written journal. I would love for them to write down words they don’t know. Go look up the definition and then go use that word in a sentence. I would also like to see them use the word with one of their friends too.
I chose these five goals because I need to get my workshop down. I want to get my workshop established and that takes time and commitment. I want to see my students increase their fluency rate by Christmas (from beginning of the year). I will use running records to track this. My workshop should help them want to read more. I plan to have stations set up. They will rotate between teacher time, a digital journal, a written journal, reading (paired, silent, outloud or other), and a listening station. I want them to be so engaged in reading that they forget they’re reading! I want to share my reading log with them just as they share theirs with me. They can even conference with me about my digital or written reading log. How fun would that be…them conferencing me instead of the other way around. I want them to know I’m interested in what they’re reading and they can take an interest in their friends reading too.
My writing workshop will be a fun place to be. I envision playing a little music in the background as we all write. I could give them props on their desk. Tell me a story about the 3 things that are on your desk. They could make up fun adventures for the items we put there. I want them to get their writing down on paper. When they write they remember. So having them journal what they are reading is an excellent way for them to remember it. I want to conference with them about their journals as well. I loved that idea from our article. Sometimes it’s hard for the younger ones to get started writing. I will share my blog with them to show them that I write every day and they can too. Writing is fun and a great way to express your ideas and feelings.
Now my literacy database.
How to host a book tournament would be a fun way to change up book reports. Check out how they do that here.
3 alternatives to Accelerated Reader because my school just phased this out I’d wanted to find out other things to do.
Kindle app so my students can read books while at school without worrying about losing the book.
PBS Kids app to find reading games and other fun education activities for the kids.
FunBrain educational games for 3rd grade.
Education.com games for kids
Speed Reading Academy – is a fun, educational app that helps young readers build their fluency and stamina. This interactive app is designed to help students increase their reading speed while playing along with the game.
EPIC is a subscription-based e-book library that’s just $4.99 per month, and it’s filled with more than 20,000 e-books!
Reading Rainbow‘s SKYBRARY is a carefully curated, ever expanding interactive library of digital books and video explorations designed to engage young readers and foster a love of learning.
For great nonfiction reading practice, the Time for Kids app can’t be beat. It brings current events to life for children.
Let’s not forget to get the kids writing with the KidBlog app. It’s safer student publishing with an audience.
Or Edublogs for easy education blogging.
Teach Your Monster to Read is one of my favorites! Teach Your Monster to Read is an award-winning phonics and reading game that’s helped over a million children learn to read.
The Dr. Seuss Treasury includes 55 Dr. Seuss classics which have been adapted into delightful interactive experiences.
My main enemy, I mean obstacle, will be time and consistency. I know it will take consistency of the class doing it over and over to develop our routine. There’s so much to get in I’m not sure if I can get it all done. But I know for sure that I can try and put my best foot forward to make it an A effort for the kids.
I feel like all that we’ve read and done up to this point has had a huge impact in how my literacy goals and project will go. I wasn’t even aware of most of this before today. These goals were chosen as my initial beginning of the year goals. I want to see them all increase and change by mid year and then have new goals. I hope that by having those conferences that we can move them up in their fluency rate with the running records. I hope that their vocabulary will increase and they will be amazed at the new words they’ve learned. I am excited to get started. Have you started a Literacy Initiative in your classroom? What’s it look like?
If needed be sure to get your kids a Physics tutor.