Sunday, September 25, 2011

Teacher Made Big Books

Is anyone else obsessed with Big Books? I've only taught 3rd and 5th grades, and I've always been envious of the younger grades who have access to so many awesome big books! I do have one Magic School Bus big book, but most of the others I've found are for preschool/kinder levels.

Well, I'll save my gushing for other posts, but last year I had the most incredible 42-hour teacher training in Project G.L.A.D. (Guided Language Acquisition Design), an Orange County, CA based program. It's life-changing, I tell you. It has revolutionized the way I teach. I digress (I promise to tell more about it in other posts!)...

One amazing GLAD strategy is using Teacher-Made Big Books in the classroom. Why?

  • Students (and, let's be honest, teachers!) love them!
  • You can tailor them to directly focus on the core standards in your unit (and maybe even integrate standards from another unit!)
  • Embed important concepts and vocabulary
  • Expose students to comprehensible expository text (you know...the kind that wasn't written for a graduate-level college student!?)
  • Patterned texts gives access to all students
Awesome, isn't it? Let me show you a few and explain the process.

Choose key concepts and vocabulary.  For example, here's a big book about Economics. The possibilities are truly endless!

Choose a frame or pattern. Some suggestions are:

The Important Book
I Just Thought You Would Like to Know
Brown Bear, Brown Bear
When I Was Young
I Remember When
    Here's an example of a big book about the Earth using the frame from The Important Book. You'll notice that "the important thing" is at the top and bottom of each page in the book... and it's the state standard, verbatim! The idea behind this is that even your lowest kids will get the gist of the standard as you read it aloud again and again. Then, each page has new information sandwiched between the important thing, which is bonus information for the higher students.

    Here's another book about the American Revolution that has a slightly different frame, but you can see the same idea at work.

    Lastly, use real pictures and photos. There's a whole bunch of brain research related to this, but basically it's all about providing a way for students to connect the information with images, and then use their schema to file the information in a retrievable place in their brains. It works, I assure you.

    Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

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