September 25, 2016

Introducing and Reinforcing Read to Self

No matter how many other tasks I'm required to do the first week of school, I make introducing Read to Self a priority. I want to get the process started early and begin establishing expectations. Plus, those kids need to get reading! I use end of year testing data to get a sense of each students' reading level and prior to the start of school I phone each of my new families to find out what sort of books those kids like. Using all that info, I become a personal librarian and populate each student's book bin with books I feel will be a good fit. Building stamina begins on day 1!

I have yet to find a better explanation outside of the Daily 5 book to introduce Read to Self. I follow The Sisters process closely. My kids' favorite part is being a "star" in the example/non-example process! I make an anchor chart and put it on the wall. Prior to each session we go over expectations. Many kids have not had so much freedom selecting where and what they'll read. What a treat to watch kids get excited about choosing a book and finding the perfect spot!

This year I have a room full of wiggle worms, therefore I'm spending a bit more time than I have in the past actively monitoring the group while they build stamina. Although it has delayed starting one-on-one conferencing, I feel this is time well spent. Nipping issues and bad habits now will help the rest of the year will go smoothly.

The second week of school I brought out the Read to Self Habit Sort for Lower Elementary (I actually printed out a couple of the Upper Elementary version too for differentiation.) I recently revamped it and am excited about the improvements and additional pieces. In addition to a new font, it also includes a second page with the same habits but in a larger font for wall anchor charts or on a whiteboard. I expect my students to recreate the sort in their Reader's Notebook after we do it whole group. As each element is introduced we do the other sorts included in this BUNDLE

The third week I copied and send home Read to Self Routine Homework! I do love this. The half page includes specific questions for an adult to ask the child about Read to Self. Students get to become the experts at home, further reinforcing expectations. The notes I get back from parents range from "Jace understands what to do." to "Kaelyn has never been so excited about reading before! Thank you!" to "It's good to get a glimpse into the class." The sheets include homework for the other Daily 5 elements as well.

The fourth week things run pretty smoothly. It is at that point I get out my camera and start taking photos of the kids who are doing exactly what I expect. I print the photos and post them around our Read to Self anchor chart. This keeps it fresh and kids are always hoping to have their picture added throughout the year. It's such a simple way to reinforce the habits and recognize children at any reading level loving books. One piece of advice - kids start to ham it up when they see a camera. If a child suddenly changes what they were doing to smile, I whisper "I take photos of kids who are working hard." then circle back.

Ironically, one of the favorite photos I've taken for this purpose was of a girl with a furrowed brow and a down-turned mouth. She was leaning her head in her hand, her book just inches from her face. When I posted that one, the girl called out, "That is a terrible picture of me!"
"What book are you reading now?"
"Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes"
"What was going on in the story when we did Read to Self today?"
"Sadako is very sick. They had to put her in the hospital."
"Did you know I took this photo?"
She shook her head no.
"That is why I wanted to show it. Your worry for the main character is on your face. You know how scared you are by the way you hold your head. You didn't know I was right next to you because you were so focused on Sadako's story. This is what being lost in a book looks like! I LOVE this picture!"
I just about started to cry when all the other kids cheered for her.....

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