Thursday, May 10, 2012

Reading Chapter Books

Yahooey! Just before Winter Break, I introduced several of my students to reading chapter books independently. Like anything else, we started small and built upon the skills that were already in place.

Since the beginning of the school year, we have spent 10-12 minutes each day with a chapter read aloud. I don't test on it, we don't dissect the book, we don't go crazy if something happens and the chapter is put off until tomorrow. My purpose in approaching it in this manner was to introduce books that were longer in length and to model reading a chapter book in small increments. I wanted the kids to see enjoyment of reading a longer book.

When I felt a few kids were ready, I hand picked some beginning chapter books such as "The Fly Guy" and the "Frog and Toad" series. This introduced the kids to the format of a chapter book but the length and the reading level was still relatively easy for them.

I finally then moved to books in series like "The Magic Treehouse" and "Cam Jansen." In order to help the kids break up the book into manageable chunks and to also let them see their progress, I stole an idea from another teacher on my team.

She shared that for some of her kids, she writes down which pages they have to read each night on a bookmark. Since I am a big fan of post its and I have a lot of them, I used her idea on a post it. I selected quite a few books and then asked the student to choose a book from my pre-selected group rather than the whole library. After he/she selected the book, we went through the table of contents together to see how many chapters were in the book. I then wrote each chapter number on the post it and gave it to them for their bookmark. As they finished each chapter, they could cross of the chapter they had completed.

It has been working pretty well. Two "bonuses" of this visual support is that it is 1) cheap, and 2) easy. As the kids finish the books and successfully pass AR tests, their confidence is growing! Hopefully, this will help to scaffold their "reading endurance" and help them continue to read longer passages and books successfully.