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jmeanne jmeanne is offline
 
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Struggling with Reading Instruction in 5th (long)
Old 08-28-2010, 10:49 AM
 
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Most of the time I feel like a fairly decent teacher and I think that I do a good job with discussing literature with kids and with getting them motivated to read...but I feel like I'm missing the boat on overall reading instruction.

My issue among others is that I think my kids are having to manage too many books. For example, my kids in the gifted program are reading a novel in that class, a novel in my class (currently doing a whole class novel study), and they also have at least one more chapter book checked out to read for AR and a non-fiction book. And once our Reading Bowl team starts up - that number will increase. To me it's nuts. And even my "lower" kids are still doing the class novel and the AR fiction and non fiction books. How can kids balance all of those books at once? I don't think I could and I'm a voracious reader.

I'm supposed to be doing "guided reading" using our textbook adoption of Good Habits Great Readers - but I really hate most of the books they include. And honestly I've still yet to see a) guided reading functioning in a 5th grade classroom or b) guided reading actually being useful for 5th graders who are at all close to 5th grade level or above. Maybe I just am not good at guided reading? I remember hating reading groups as a child and perhaps that's coloring my perspective.

I really like the idea of having my class rotating through stations - especially since we're doing Words Their Way with our spelling, but I'm struggling getting in mini-lessons for reading, writing, and grammar. I've read posts about lit circles, daily 5, RW, and many others but haven't found one that seems like a good fit with both our standards and obligations, let alone allows me to follow the county mandated sequence for teaching. I feel like I'm being too subjective when I give out grades. I'm just feeling a little lost at the moment. Every year I tell myself I'm going to do better with reading and every year I feel like I fall horribly short.


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I know what you mean
Old 08-28-2010, 11:52 AM
 
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Lit circles seems pretty easy to implement, to me. I'd start there. There are lots of resources available. I get questions for the books I use from edhelper.com. A subscription is reasonably priced. Commit to having meetings once a week w/ each group... maybe 2 for your low group so you can read aloud together.

As far as guided reading goes....why not integrate w/ other subjects? Read your science and ss text.... have the lower kids also listen to it on tape for a second dose.

I do use some of the leveled books that come w/ my reading series for guided reading or buddy reading. I like a lot of them, but it sounds like you are using a different series than I'm using.

I do use centers. The gifted kids leave for most of the day once per week and that's the day I do it. It gives me a chance to review stuff we've done already without boring the gifted kids. One of the centers is listening, another is read/respond, then the last two rotate... could be math, writing, science or ss.

What you described IS a lot of books to be reading at once. If I were you, I'd try to select some shorter reads for what you do in class.. ones that will be done in one or two class periods.
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really long, no reeeeeally long
Old 08-28-2010, 07:53 PM
 
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Quote:
my kids in the gifted program are reading a novel in that class, a novel in my class (currently doing a whole class novel study)
Why are they reading a novel with you when they're already participating in a gifted program reading group? When I'm doing Book Clubs, I ask our GIS if she will take the highest group and work with them on a book that's more on-level for their abilities. That way, when I'm working with my other groups of kids in my language arts block, she's working with the highest group. This takes one group off my hands! If there's one of those days where she's not able to meet with them for one reason or another, they just work on some assignment they are to be doing that she's previously assigned.

Quote:
I'm supposed to be doing "guided reading" using our textbook adoption of Good Habits Great Readers - but I really hate most of the books they include.
Can you just teach the skills/strategies the book is suggesting you use but use chapter books/picture books/articles that you choose? I wouldn't think your admin. would care as long as the kids are being taught the standards they're responsible for learning. If admin., whether it be your principal or the curriculum director for your district, is adamant about the kids having access to the literature in the text you have, then maybe you could send the book home so they can read the story there. You could always have them summarize the story or write their thoughts about it as morning work the next day. They could also spend about 10 minutes with a small group of kids discussing what they read.


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I've still yet to see a) guided reading functioning in a 5th grade classroom or b) guided reading actually being useful for 5th graders who are at all close to 5th grade level or above.
There are still so many skills and strategies that the kids need at this grade level even if they are very good readers and able to understand what they read. They need to work on applying these to selections that meet them where they are. They can always use practice responding to what they're reading.

You could start with a whole group mini lesson then meet with one of your Book Clubs for discussion and practice using the lesson. If you teach them how to use Thinkmarks to gather their thoughts about what they read, then have them practice using them in your group. The other groups could be doing the same and discussing them with each other.

Sometimes I meet with only one group for a couple of weeks while doing "checking ins" on the other groups as they participate in their Book Clubs. Each group, including the one I work with, is responsible for completing a variety of assignments based on what they're reading. These assignments/activities help me see how well they're understanding the chapter book they're reading. When I meet with a group long term like this, it's the lower performers. When I meet with all groups at different times during the week, I try to prepare with some focus questions ahead of time. The discussions are always interesting. It's telling to see how each student interprets the actions/characters in the stories. Even my kids who hardly ever participate in whole group discussions liven up a bit when we're in small groups.

I also have the kids write me response letters based on what they're reading at different times. I mainly have them do these when I don't have groups going on but the kids have been assigned to read an independent book. I keep notes on their comprehension and progress as we have our student/teacher conferences.

Small groups are also great when discussing nonfiction articles/selections. Showing them how to use Post-Its to gather notes for summarizing, for example, is much more beneficial when done in a small group setting.


Quote:
but I'm struggling getting in mini-lessons for reading, writing, and grammar
Then don't do them everyday. Maybe it would be more helpful for you to do alternate days with writing and grammar, or you might just want to focus on a grammar lesson a week. For instance, you could teach this lesson at the beginning of the week, and have the kids practice recognizing and using it during your guided reading groups. This is really nice to do with copies of articles that the students can use highlighters on while they're in groups. My Book Clubs don't last the whole reading block, so once they're back in their seats, they get started on either responding to what they read or working on a writing project they've previously started.

Don't beat yourself up. At least you're trying to find something that works best for you and your kids. Take the samples you find online or in books, try them out, and tweak as you see fit. I get some awesome ideas here that I take and make my own. I love to hear how everyone does their English/Language Arts block. I usually take a little bit here and there and go from there to make it fit my needs.

Sorry this is so long. I'm too tired to get myself up off this couch and go wash my face. It will just wake me up. Hopefully, there aren't too many spelling or punctuation errors. I just don't want to take the time to go back through this novel.
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own it and make it simple
Old 08-28-2010, 08:18 PM
 
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Reading is a simple and complex subject to teach. It is such a personal independent explicit experience it is hard to understand all you are to do and teach. Find a book that has basic strategies like Strategies at work...start with one mini lesson model it for your students ask them why they would need this strategy? Discuss the importance of thinking when reading and being an active reader vs passive reader. Then have them practice with their novels. Check in with small groups to see how they are doing. Each couple days add another mini lesson have them practice. I have found the that the different genres lend themselves to more experiences and broaden the perspective of the students' learning.

In time you will know the different strategy your students will need, some students need short passages to practice comprehension, others need to work on fluency. Others may need more modeling on how to read a non-fiction book. Continue to repeat strategies taught, remind students why they are doing this and keep building.

One thing I love about mini lessons- you get to share many more books with your students without having to read the whole book. It lends itself to a richer discussion. Sometimes I think we get so overwhelmed by all that we do and end up not knowing where to start, we need to just take a small step toward our goal and then another, and another. Our students will follow.
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