Reading with Teaching in Mind

Alternative title:  A Book A Week #41

Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows

OK, for a complete departure from last week, I decided to go back ‘down’ to the levels where the books really will work in many of our classrooms.  And, they are quicker to read!

I decided to time myself reading this book because I have been thinking a lot about the pace at which kids read when they get to books that are about 28 (M) and above. 

I know I read faster than your average second grader, but this book only took me 25 minutes to read, so it probably shouldn’t take a reader who is independent and this level no more than one hour to read.

I also wanted to see just how long it would take to read some of the ‘longer’ books in classroom libraries, because I strongly believe reading books in your library is the best way to prepare for teaching reading. 

 By reading out of your classroom library you can:

  • Get a better understanding of what is required of the reader at each level of text
  • Get a better understanding of how a new series or level of book goes
  • Get an instant list of teaching points/conferring (for both READING and WRITING!) that are transferable to many different books
  • Know what’s current in children’s literature (if you read a recently published book.)

Here are all the teaching points/uses I thought of while reading this book:

  1. Mentor Text:  Ivy and Bean is a perfect mentor text for realistic fiction and small moment:  each chapter is a small moment, all the mini moments link together, it’s completely realistic.
  2. Predicting: the chapter titles provide the perfect opportunity to practice linking titles to events in the chapter.
  3. Getting to know characters:  there are two main characters in this story, and a strong secondary character.  Each offers good examples of character traits with supporting evidence.
  4. Connections:  It’s realistic fiction, so it would be easy for children to come up with connections to the characters and their experiences that would help the reader understand the book better.
  5. Visualization:  there is one passage where the author describes a scene and then there is a picture of it on the next page.  Planned correctly, it would be a good spot to practice visualizing and then checking to see if the picture in your head matched the picture in the book.
  6. Going to the next level:  It’s a level M book- and a pretty typical example of one at that.  There is light picture support and the text is not that dense on the pages.  It would be a good book to use so that students going from a L to an M to look at so they can get an idea for how it looks.
  7. Story Structure/ Determining Importance:  since the moments connect, you could think about the main problem of the whole story and how the author embedded a smaller problem or event in each chapter.  Identifying the main ‘event’ in each chapter= determining importance.

All that in 25 minutes?  Not a bad use of time.

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2 responses to “Reading with Teaching in Mind

  1. You’re absolutely right about getting to know your classroom library. I did a thorough clean out/organization this summer; now that I know what’s there I can use it much more effectively– and so can my class!

  2. Since you’re headed down the level ladder, I want to recommend Kate DiCamillo’s new series, Bink and Gollie. I loved The Tale of Despereaux and was so terribly disappointed in the Mercy Watson series. But with Bink and Gollie, Kate has managed to create dynamic characters that will require readers to do some digging to get to know well, but the digging is worth it.

    At the institute this weekend, Maggie also spoke of getting to know our libraries better. You have both motivated me to devote a half hour a few days a week to reading my library and thinking about ways to teach my students to read these books more effectively. Thanks!

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