Ready to start read to self in your classroom? After working REALLY hard this past week on preparing my students to Read to Self, I have a few tips and suggestions for you!
Three Ways to Read to Self
Read aloud the book The Hungry Caterpillar. Let students see the pictures, enjoy the words and then, after you are finished, allow them to retell the story. This anchor chart is a great reminder to students of the three ways that they can read a book. We went over these three ways to read a book several times before we moved into expectations for reading to self. We then practiced again with a few other books.
Introduce Your Expectations
This is one anchor chart that we had to visit, revisit, and visit a million times over…well, that might have been a bit dramatic…but you get the point. This is one anchor chart that I prepared, but now I see that maybe we should have made this chart together. I should have used the students’ words and phrases. Next year, friends…next year. However you choose to make this chart, just be sure to make it a priority…don’t skip this step! Giving students a visual to remind them of what you expect while they are reading is SO important. Many times I just tapped the student on the shoulder and then, went to the chart and pointed to the expectation they were forgetting. Anytime you can use nonverbal cues when students are supposed to be silent will help others from joining in the chatter.
Book Interest Inventory
What do your students enjoy reading? We use the Scholastic Next Step Guided Reading Assessment. Students looked at several pictures and then circled five that interested them. I displayed the page on my interactive board and read over all their choices. Then, students marked five. I compiled the data as a class and individual students. I made sure to meet with each student after their inventories were complete and show them the boxes in my library that matched their interests. More on picking books next…
Fill Those Book Baskets
Students have their own book basket labeled with their names. During center rotations, my station was to work on filling our book baskets with the right books. Students shopped to fill up their baskets with 5 books.
I asked them to pick 3-4 books from guided reading leveled books. I used initial data I collected to help assist with what letter/level. Then, I encouraged them to find books in my library. Are you a member of my VIP Resource Library? If not, sign up to get access to tons of freebies including these drawer labels. Click here to sign up!
I reminded them of the books they said they liked according to their reading interest inventory. Then, I showed them again where to find those book in my library. They could pick up to two books. I also took this time to share with them how to make sure to match the book sticker to the book bin label so they make sure they are putting books back up properly.
Set the Timer
Once they have books, they are going to be READY to read! In fact, they are going to be MOTIVATED and EAGER to read. So let them! Set a goal as a class for an appropriate amount of time. For my first graders, we set the timer for five minutes. We quickly reviewed those ways to read a book and the expectations. Then I allowed students to find a spot around the room to read. Some stayed in their desks, but others spread out just a bit…as seen below.
We did wonderful with five minutes the first day. The second day, I got a little over confident and set the timer for 10 minutes…oh boy! Learn from my mistake!!! Slow down! Way too much time. In fact, by three minutes the kids were DONE! The books weren’t as new or exciting, and they just couldn’t do that length of time. The next day, we tried five minutes again, and they did great! I will slowly increase by a couple of minutes instead of trying to double our time again.
Practice, Practice, Practice
We are six days in and have successfully built our way up to 8 minutes. We have had the same books for all of those days, but I did let them swap things up just a bit. On day 4, I let each student pick one book that they didn’t want anymore and then silently stand and find someone to swap with. I have also randomly selected students to take books to add to their baskets that I have read to the class as well. They have all been eagerly accepted when offered.
Tips to Consider
I knew that my reading center area would be my favorite and most important space in my room. The kids love it too! In fact, when they are picking where to read, they like it a little too much. I’m going to have to start a rotation or selection process for getting to read in this area. Everyone swarms to the benches and chairs. Students even grab scoop chairs and bring them to this magical area. Think through where you think students will want to be when they are reading and decide how you will manage that area.
Organization and book baskets are key to Reading to Self. Be sure to decide how often students will trade or change out books. Also, have an idea of storage. These IKEA benches have been amazing for storage and seating! Decide what is going to work for you and your classroom.
Building a classroom library is so expensive! I have an entire blog post for ways to build up your collection on a budget. Another idea is to always shop the Scholastic Book Club $1 deals. Each month there are a few selected titles that are a dollar. Pick up a few each month to help build your library more quickly. Those Book Club points are also an easy way to get more books into the hands of your students. Cash those in for more books to put on your shelves.
What tips do you have to share? Join the conversation over at Keeping Up with All Learners, the FREE Facebook page for educators.