Shared Reading

Hi, Teachers!

Is your summer off to a nice start? I hope so. For some odd reason I feel like my summer is over, but it has barely begun. Weird! Anyway, I am very happy to report that I have finished the first book of my summer reading challenge... on the actual day I planned to finish it! Ahhh! It's practically unheard of for me! I am glad I found a system that works for me. Have you finished any books yet? Have you started any yet? It's not too late to get started! Take a look at my last post and get going. You will thank yourself for it later.

The first book I read is called Text Savvy: Using a Shared Reading Framework to Build Comprehension. In case you didn't see my last post, you can check this book out here:
 Text Savvy: Using a Shared Reading Framework to Build Comprehension

It was a really quick and interesting read. I have to say, while I do do some of the things outlined in this book in my classroom regularly, this really shifted my perspective. It's so easy to get caught up in the rush of things during the year, so I think it was good that I chose to read this now when I could hear it a little better. Do you know what I mean? All summer long, I've been reflecting on my literacy instruction and how hard it can be sometimes to get all parts of balanced literacy into a day/week. I am sure that incorporating this into my daily teaching for 10 to 15 minutes a day (but let's be real--most days it will probably have to be 10 minutes) will make a huge impact in my teaching, and most importantly, my students' understanding of reading.

My big take-away from this book was that we as teachers have a tendency to get stuck in a reading or writing unit and teach ALL about that genre for 3-5 weeks, but then we don't come back to it to evaluate how or if our teaching "sticks." How backwards is that!? Readers must read all genres fluidly as we come in contact with so many texts each day. Shared reading is something that can really fix that problem. You focus on one text for a week with your students, but it isn't necessarily the genre in the unit of study you're working on at that moment. I really like that! It serves as a time for you to assess your students while you get to preview or review important skills. You are the one modeling most of these behaviors for your kids at first, but by the end of the year, they are going to guide your conversations where they need to go. I highly recommend that you GRAB THIS BOOK and READ IT NOW. READ IT YESTERDAY. Seriously. Read it!

I've decided that in my classroom, I'll probably pick two non-fiction pieces, one poem, and one fiction piece over the course of the average month. This will change as my readers need it, of course. If you aren't convinced you have time for this, know that you can use shared reading to double-dip in the content areas. Having trouble fitting in science and reading in one day? Shared reading lets you do BOTH. Maybe due to something extra in the schedule, you have to skip your science lesson on the nervous system one day. No problem! You might pick a shared reading article on the nervous system that week. So, if you have a week full of assemblies and other craziness in your schedule, you may want to mindfully pick texts to help make up for the instruction time you'll miss in a subject area.

We are used to seeing science and social studies concepts being discussed in reading, but another idea this book discussed was how to include math in shared reading. While I of course loathe test prep and standardized testing, you can even select a math problem from a sample test and use that as a shared reading text for the week! The catch is that you want to stress to your kids that you are not solving this problem right away--you are looking at it as a READER first and a mathematician later. When it comes time to solve the problem later, however, you will find that your kids truly comprehend the problem much better and are more confident in their answer since they know what the question is asking them to do. They will solve it much quicker because they've thought about what the question is asking of them, what information is important and what information is not needed, etc. If you have kids who really struggle with word problems, this might be something you choose to do more often. Maybe you might choose to plug it into your math period for a while too, who knows!

Text Savvy broke up the typical 5-day week into a schedule that you repeat each week, regardless of the text/genre. The predictable pattern is good for the kids, and it's good for you! Their overview of a quality shared reading schedule is as follows:
  • Day One:  Previewing the text and setting expectations as a reader
  • Day Two: Locating oneself in the text
  • Day Three: Envisioning
  • Day Four: Inferring
  • Day Five: Synthesizing
Text Savvy recognizes these 5 skills as some of the main, most crucial skills we must develop as readers. I could not agree more. Some of these things we do in a matter of seconds--sometimes less--without even realizing it, but they are such foreign concepts for a young reader. We look at a nonfiction article and know immediately what it is and what we expect to get out of it, but kids really need to think to do that. This is just a tiny example of why I believe we need to really pay attention to ourselves on a personal level when we read and write--it helps us become better teachers for our kids when we realize what WE do. Then we can teach it!

Anyway, I could blab to you about the ideas in this book all day, but it's much better for you to just... read it. As I said, it's a fabulous read. It has a conversational tone (thank GOODNESS--who wants to read a textbook all day? blah blah blah--no thanks, not me!), and it's only about 120 pages. I really found this useful, helpful, and most of all PRACTICAL. I'm not going to be guessing how to do this now--I have a clear vision in my mind of how to make this happen because the authors of the book outlined it beautifully. Teachers of younger children (grades K-2) might want to read a text geared more towards their age group, but I think this one is easily adaptable if you don't find another one that you want to read.

I'm planning to create a basic weekly lesson plan template that I will use each week during shared reading. I will still need to select a text and zero in on the skills I'll teach each day of the week, but it will be a good place to get me started. Do you guys feel like that would be useful for you? If so, I will upload that on one of my next few posts!

What books are you reading? What are you learning from them? How is your personal book club plan going? Comment below to share your thoughts! :)


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