Monday, October 1, 2012

Inference, Silent reading, and Reader's Notebooks

Today was a "revamping" day in my class's reading world. This week we're talking ALL ABOUT INFERENCE. 

One of my FAVORITE, FAVORITE, FAVORITE books for teaching reading strategies is the book Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor. You cannot go wrong. So practical. So concrete. 

Well, one of the strategies for teaching about inference is to use a bag of garbage and make inferences about the people who live in the house. I like that idea. But then I saw the blog post over at The Inspired Apple where instead of a bag of garbage, the teacher uses her own bag! So smart!

This is what I did today. I wish I would have snapped a picture, but I forgot. The kids were cracking me up with their inferences. They did a very good job. For example, they opened my wallet, saw my Macy's and Kohl's credit cards and said, "You must like to shop." They grabbed my library card and noted:
"You must like to read." 
"You've been to a library before."
"You like to spend time in quiet places."

Then one of them grabbed my phone. Keep in mind, THIS is my phone:
Yes, I do still live in the dark ages. 
And one of them said, "I infer that you wish you had an iPhone."

Oh, kid. How your inference is spot-on! One day....

But I digress.... So we finished up our mini-lesson on inference, and I sent them hither and yon to practice making inferences in their books. Meanwhile, I was going to make my rounds and continue to assess their Guided Reading (I'll post my forms soon). But, as I got ready to walk around and listen to them read, there was such chaos that I found myself staring at the class and thinking, "This is NOT working." This thought was immediately followed by gathering my kids together and declaring that ZYLAR (zip your lips and read) time was over (groaning...which is amazing, since very little reading was happening).

And so I began to revamp. We discussed some of our problems during independent reading. The kids know. They were able to point them out. Yes, one problem was that fourteen kids are looking for books... and it's the same offenders each day. Lots of talking, not much reading. 

So I raffled off my 11 book boxes, and bribed the other kids to bring cereal boxes to make some. I need to make a book "shopping" schedule so that kids are only at the class library once a week. (I've seriously never had this problem before with my kids, but now I do, so I have to change my system.) 

And then I grabbed the stack of composition notebooks that I stole from the resource room at our school. I gave each kid one and had them write their name on it. Then they turned to the first page and recorded their independent reading level for the quarter. In other words, they wrote the levels of books they're looking for to be independent reading books. Then I had them number the page to 3. 

See...This class is terrible about picking out a book and committing to it. I mean awful. They stare at the books, grab one, read four pages, and then quit. So I grabbed a bunch from the shelves today and started talking about each one... told them what the reading level was, and read the back of the book. I had them listen for at least three that interested them enough to want to read it. It's crazy to me. These are the same books that have been staring them in the face for a month, but only after I presented them did pencils start furiously scribbling the titles of these books. Nuts, I tell you. But, whatever. If it gets them reading, so be it. 

So, whew. That was our day in reading today. From now on the kids will have at least three books in their book box that they intend to read. Tomorrow we'll work on finding a reading spot and staying there. I've seen several independent reading self-assessments, and I think we'll use one of those.

I've always always always wanted to start reader's notebooks with my kids. I've just always been intimidated that I'd do it wrong. But you know what? I'm risking it. I'm jumping in. I had to rethink our reading today, and, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. I'll post more pictures and things in days to come as I steal more ideas from fabulous teachers and revamp my own system to get it to work. We'll get there! 


1 comment:

  1. Erin! I nominated your blog for an award. Come check it out.