Friday, September 12, 2014

Choosing "Just Right" Books

I've has been teaching lots of classes about "Just Right" books this week. "Just Right" books are ones that help you become a better reader.  They're not too hard, not too easy- just right.  Sounds like Goldilocks, right?

Students in 1st and 2nd grade get one "Just Right" book, and one free choice book- something too hard, too easy, a comic, or anything else that's interesting to them.

Students in 3rd-5th grades get two "Just Right" books, and one free choice book - something too hard, too easy, a comic, or anything else that's interesting to them.

I really believe it's important to build lifelong learners and active readers.  Because of that, I champion the students' right to choose books they want. I work really hard to get books that are attractive, fun, and interesting to the kids. Students use the 5 finger test to make sure the books they select aren't too hard or too easy.

They start with all 5 fingers up. If they come to a word they don't know, they put their finger down. If they run out of fingers, it's too hard. If they have all their fingers up, it's too easy.  After reading all the words, they close the book and retell themselves what happened.  This last step is really important because these kids are amazing decoders- they can sound out any word you put in front of them, but that doesn't mean they actually understood it. I could read a scientific journal article about the latest paleontology technology, but that doesn't mean I actually understand all of it- I'm just very practiced at decoding!

I saw this 5th grader choosing books yesterday, and independently doing the 5 finger test, and it warmed my heart.  Way to go, Carmelo!  I appreciate you putting my lesson into action!

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