Digital teaching tips & tricks, ideas, examples, and general thoughts and reflections. Follow my Inquiry.

Monday, 27 May 2019

5 Finger Reading Test

One of the key ways that I have had buy-in from my class for Silent Reading has been getting kids onto books at the right level.

To put it bluntly, getting them onto books that they can actually read.

Try telling a kid which book to read however, watch them hate it haha.

Check out my experience trying a cool little test that kids can use to see if a book is at their level or not.

The Five Finger Reading test - Class OnAir Episode

Monday, 20 May 2019

Silent Reading - My saviour

Silent-Reading has become our go-to 'time-waster'.

Ideally we don't have time-wasting moments at school, but unfortunately in our job it's occasionally inevitable... Now before you judge my honesty here, please reflect on the moments you have asked your class to "carry on with [insert]" or "practice [insert] for the next 10 minutes". We need this time to occasionally set up for the next lesson, or deal to current crisis that has erupted after lunch time etc. Being Team Leader, this is an unfortunate consequence for my class, as these moments can occur out of nowhere,. Therefore expectations for these moments needs to be well drilled, and working well.

For me, this time has become silent reading. Everyone knows what to do, and best of all, everyone does it! Even if I need to leave the classroom momentarily, I know that my class can get on with this, and make the most of it. But I also know, that this doesn't just happen (and that in my previous years this has NOT happened). Silent reading norms - the silent reading culture, does not just happen because you give kids a book to read. They need to buy in.

In the past we used to do silent reading every day in the morning. The idea was that it was a way to settle the class as they came in at the morning bell. In a shared space silence is not something that happens very often. So putting aside a time that all the classes in the space would be silent (at the same time) seemed like the best way to do it. It worked well, but it required teachers to roam and keep putting out little pockets of whispers. There were always kids 'pretending' to read, books upside down, everything you can imagine. For some kids this became an unpleasant time, and we as the teachers found this wasn't the best way to start the day with some of our kids (a telling off, or an old fashioned "Shhhhhh").

We have ditched this model now. Silent reading time is fitted into our programme when ever we need or want. A consequence for this means that the space isn't silent. Therefore, it isn't exactly traditional SSR, instead its probably more accurately SR - Sustained Reading. Which means there is the odd whisper, or conversation, because the noise from the class next door allows for it. More often than not though, the whisper or conversation is related to the book they are reading - which to me, is actually fine.

These silent reading norms, or silent reading 'culture' has been created and co-constructed together. There is buy in from the class because they want to do it. Essentially this what my inquiry has been into.

So going back to being a time-waster. If I need 10 minutes, I know that I now have something fun, engaging, beneficial to learning, and calm and quiet for my class to do! Brilliant!

Friday, 29 March 2019

Presents - Growing excitement for books

In a bid to help grow the excitement for the books in our class library, I have been buying books on trademe. Instead of opening them up and putting them straight on the shelf, we have been opening them together as a "present".

It's something little, but the kids absolutely love it. We do a big reveal about which author it might be. Then there is a squeal of excitement, or the moan of disappointment. Normally I would have discouraged any type of outward disappointment to something like this (to teach gratitude), however I simply love how passionate they are becoming about books.

I have been trying to buy books at different levels. Yet there isn't a tonne of books for those kids reading at the 8.5 age range. I have the Dahl set, but still some of those are a bit hard. I think I'm going to look at comic books and graphic novels, and see if I can find sets of them at the right level.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Authors - Growing the excitement for books

This year I decided to rename my groups. Rather than naming them after trees, landmarks, or even famous New Zealanders, I have decided to go with authors.

I chose these authors because I felt they were close enough to the levels within my class, and would also be of interest. While they may not all be my personal favourites, I have said otherwise to the kids. Claiming each of them to be my favourites, and promising to read 1 book from each author to the class.

I have had total buy-in from this. An unexpected consequence (although shouldn't have been a surprise) is that now the members of these groups all really want to read the books by 'their author'.
Had I expected this, I would have put more thought into which author went with each group, as I might have been able to level this a bit better.

Never mind, good thoughts for next time.