Ok friends! I am going to try *really* hard to get better at posting my song lyrics on my blog. My friend, Chris Pombonyo, posted my plot song today on Instagram, and he is allowing me to share his sweet kiddos here! If you are looking for a way to help your students get that plot terminology down, check out this little gem of a song below! :)
You can grab the lyrics by clicking on the link below!
Have you ever walked through life without a purpose? I am guessing if you are reading this, your answer to that question is "no." Lol! Have you ever asked your students why they come to school? Most would reply with the robotic answer of "to learn." But is that really a purpose? That's a question that we will have to attack on another day. Ha! Have you ever asked them what book they are reading? Have you taken it a little further and asked them why? Why do they want to read *that* book? I did this very thing at the beginning of the year after a few weeks of instruction. Of course it is my requirement that all students read 30 minutes each night. Now, the students have complete control over what they are reading. If you don't follow this concept, I highly recommend that you read Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer.
It's good stuff, y'all. But back to that interesting set of questions: a) What are you reading? b) Why are you reading it?
After posing this question to a group of thirty-four 5th graders and thirty-seven 6th graders, only two could answer. TWO! Let me say that one more time....TWO! Two, y'all! I couldn't believe it. I thought that students just naturally knew how to set a purpose. No? (Insert sarcastic laugh here!) Ok, so I knew that all students wouldn't naturally select a book because of something greater than "the cover is cool"...but TWO? Really? Only two could do this? Even worse, only a few could recall their title. When I asked those students why they selected that specific title, most responded with....1) the expected: the cover looked cool, 2) I just grabbed it off the shelf, 3) I don't know, 4) because you told me to read. Disaster. That folks is a straight up disaster if I ever did see one. I realized that the very same way that most students come and go to school because A) they have to, or B) "to learn" is the same exact way that many of my students were selecting their books. They were just going through the motions. Why? Because they HAD to and definitely not because they WANTED to. I could tell that they weren't progressing in reading the way that I would like. At that moment, after posing those questions and realizing they were reading because they had to, I knew exactly why. They had no clue how to identify a purpose for their reading. If they didn't even know why they were reading that selection, how did I ever hope for them to actually gain something from their reading?
I had to figure out a solution....and fast. So I give you....
The Wonderland Book Tasting - the book tasting that changed it all!
Here's the skinny of the book tasting:
Note: I will link all of my resources below.
Since we began by working on informational/expository text, I decided to center my book tasting around that type of text. I wanted to expose the students to a wealth of interesting books that they could read to practice within this genre.
I divided my classroom up into 5 different areas:
- How to
- Self Help
At each table, I had 8-10 different high interest selections. I hand selected 8-10 books that I thought the kids would just die to read. You know...video games, blogging, Minecraft, sharks, Legos...you name it! I will link some of my favorite books below. I also put a few snacks out because at a tea party....you snack! And food always wins!
The students then had a little date with each book at their table for about 2-3 minutes. During this time, they had three main tasks.
1) Identify the topic: I taught the students how to read the title, summary, and table of contents (if needed) to identify the topic of the book. I mean isn't that step 1 of realizing if you even want to read it? Is this a topic of interest for you?
2) Identify an attention grabber (your purpose): I then taught the students that simply because they like the topic may not be reason enough to read it. Maybe they like video games, so naturally they are interested in GAME ON 2017. But what if that book doesn't even contain information about their game of choice? This is why we must use the text's features to help us dig a littler deeper. I taught them to use the table of contents, headings, subheadings, graphs, charts, etc. to see if the book contained the information they need or want.
3) One interesting fact (if interested in the text): If they were interested in the text, or a section of the text, they had to turn to that section and quickly skim it to find one interesting fact. They may have even located their fact under a picture, chart, table, etc.
By the end of the "tasting" they had to be able to say one of two things: (Here are two examples of what I expected to hear or see on their paper.)
A) I would love to read the book Sharkopedia because I am extremely interested in sharks. More specifically, I am interested in what causes aggression in Great White Sharks, and this book contains a whole entire section to explain that. I can't wait to read and find out the main cause of this and to learn more about my favorite type of shark.
B) I am not specifically interested in reading Sharkopedia because a) I am not interested in the topic of sharks or b) because I am specifically interested in Hammerhead Sharks, and after viewing the table of contents, it is clear that this book does not contain the information that I am looking for.
After 2-3 minutes, the students would rotate to the next book for another tasting. We did this for 2-3 days...and let me tell you...100% worth it! Every single second of it. Now the kids realize the importance of not just reading to read...but reading to learn...what that means...and how they get there!
So using the text's features to help them set a strong purpose for their reading was exactly what these kids needed.
Throughout the entire tasting, they earned tickets. They earned tickets for deep thinking, work ethic, etc. These tickets were then used for our book raffle. I set out every book at the tasting and allowed the students to place their tickets in their buckets of choice. I raffled off each book, and you would have thought I was handing out hundreds. Why? Because they had a purpose. A *reason* why they wanted *that* book!
Here are some of my favorite high-interest expository texts for grades 3-6. Click on any of the pictures to order the book on Amazon.