Week 3- March 12-16, 2012
In this third week of student teaching I encountered yet another myriad of new experiences. I began new literature circles/reference circles with five different groups of students, three different books and multiple references. In an effort to support students becoming “ACTIVE” readers and learning to explore different reference materials this time is devoted to creating an environment of exploration. Needless to say there is much planning involved. With each group meeting lasting only fifteen minutes I have to remember to be precise and ask questions that support further investigation and critical thinking skills for each student. My goal is to have the students learn to lead the discussions as I become more of an observer.
For the literature circles each of the three books are about the American Revolution. They all tell a different story and support a different level reader. The literature circles offer a natural differentiation with a focus on the different Lexile leveled books. This is nice because it is the first experience I have had working with the whole class: third, fourth and fifth graders, in a small group setting. The groups are mixed ages and challenge me to understand differentiation not only for age but academic achievement as well. The schedule is such that I have the same students every other day. On the first day the students and I focused on what qualities make a “good reader” successful. I made each student a bookmark with the acronym ACTIVE on it. We talked about how good readers practice being active reader and what that can mean. The book mark read the following;
Track what’s important
We discussed and shared examples of what each of these good reading habits look and sound like. After this discussion I asked the students to make predictions for each book and I sent them off to read their chapters. They understand that when they return for their next literature circle meeting they need to have the assigned reading completed and be ready to discuss the reading with the group. I have specific assignments for each student i.e., discussion director, illustrator, summarizer, word finder… for the future sessions that they will be responsible for completing.
The reference circles focus on supporting the student’s ability to understand the proper and most accurate places to search for information. For example, I asked the students, “If looking for information on kangaroos would you look in a dictionary, a thesaurus, the internet or an atlas?” After they answered, we discussed and looked through each of these reference materials to better define and give students the visual scaffolding needed for better concept retention. As the groups progress over time, the reference circle time will be used for exploring genres, literature/writer’s purpose, propaganda, how to read time schedules, how to look up nutritional information, how to read tide-tables…etc. The goal is to have these very practical everyday skills become second nature for the students.
The balance between the literature circle and reference circle seems to be off to a good start. The students are excited about the books that we have chosen to read and are eager to read more. Our class curriculum for social studies will additionally support their literature books as we begin our study of the American Revolution this next week. Furthermore the focus on reference guides, material searches, literary purpose, and practical everyday tools for fact finding is fun and exciting for small group sessions. I look forward to the progression of both literature and reference circles, with these small groups of students, as the next few weeks unfold.