I have used Reader's Notebooks, or Literacy Logs, or whatever in my classroom for many years now. When I taught the big kiddos (7 and 8's) it was a great way to track their reading and really get to know my students well. Since I taught on a rotary system it was a lot of Reader's Notebooks however....50 every week! But the time spent was well worth it. I didn't do formal student conferences or meetings with my student as I found that the older kids sometimes felt a little uncomfortable with that.
Now, though, I am teaching Grade 4 and am excited to introduce both Reader's Notebooks and my version of the Daily 5- the Daily 3 to my students this year. I did teach Grade 4 last year but because I was pregnant and would only be teaching until December I decided not to implement Daily 5 into my class because I was afraid that the new teacher would just drop it or feel pressured to continue and either was it would confuse the students. So even though this is my second year having read all about the Daily 5 and CAFE it is my first time actually using it in my class.
I have been scouring the internet, blogs and Pinterest for ideas for my Reader's Notebooks and I think that I have finally come up with a plan for what I want to do. It's a general mixture of a whole lot of stuff that I think will work for me.
First, I really like Beth Newingham's organizational structure for her Reader's Notebooks. I am going to adopt her idea and ask that my students all purchase a 1" binder with a clear opening at the front for a cover page. Grade 4's LOVE binders- because they are starting to feel like they are big kids...but our desks are usually too small to hold them! This will help the kids get to use the "big kid" binders but since I plan on storing them on a shelf we won't lose space in their desks! Win-Win.
I am also going to ask my students to purchase section dividers for their binders unless I can order them cheaply through our school supply order. The sections in their Reader's Notebook will be:
1. Reading Log
3. Goals and Progress
4. Mini-Lesson Handouts
5. Reading Responses
So what will each section be used for you ask? Great question!
Section 1: Even though I am calling this section a reading log it won't be the traditional idea of what a reading log is. I am not going to ask my students to track their reading minutes, or pages read or anything like that. As I read through The Book Whisperer this summer I really agreed with Donalyn Miller when she described this activity as a time waster. So many students forget to fill out a traditional reading log, make it up, parents don't sign etc. And really we aren't at home with them so how do we know?? Instead I am going to have my students track the books they have read, attempted and abandoned, and want to read.
Reading Record- adapted from Beth Newingham's version for my own use
Reading Interests- from Beth Newingham's site
Books I Plan to Read- from Beth Newingham's site
Section 2: This will be the section that contains all the information and resources my students will need to complete their genre requirements for the year. This is my adaptation of Donalyn Miller's program from The Book Whisperer. Please look through my earlier posts from this summer if you are interested in reading more of my thoughts about The Book Whisperer and to connect with others from our Read Along!
Genre Tally Sheet and Characteristic Worksheet- adapted by my from reading The Book Whisperer
Genre Graph- I like the idea of graphing the genres read by my students each months.
Section 3: This is the section my students and I will use during our conferences.
Reading Goals- from Beth Newingham's site
CAFE Menu- I am going to look into adapting the CAFE menu to make sure it fits with the Ontario Curriculum. I will post it for any other Canadian/Ontarian teachers out there, or anyone that is interested.
Section 4: This is where my students will keep any handout that we may use during our mini-lessons. I love the idea of keep a table of contents and again have to credit Beth Newingham for the idea. That woman is a genius!
Mini-Lesson Handout Table of Contents-
Section 5: The best section of all! This is where my students will be responding to me about their reading. This is has been the basis of my reading program for the past few years and I have loved it. It feels like a weekly conversation with my students about books and literature. I also get to know my students so well from these responses. In the past I have required my big kiddos (Grade 7 and 8) to respond once a week in a letter to me, but I think for my Grade 4's I am going to start off slow and build up. I will keep everyone updated as I move through this process.
Worksheets/Originals- my students will actually use a workbook for this section but we will keep it in our binders
- I always write a letter to my students about myself as a reader to start off the year and I plan to do the same thing again this year
- Beth Newingham has shared a list of possible topics for students to write about in their letters but in the past I have usually assigned a few questions each week based on the mini-lessons of reading strategies that are being taught. I think that since I will be using the CAFE menu this year and my students will all be working on different strategies I will continue with my previous used method. I have thought of printing out questions or response starters on sticky labels and attaching those right in their workbooks. Again, I will try to share anything I create as the year progresses!
- students wil also be given a rubric so they know where their mark is coming from, I generally try to create this as a class activity so that the students have a better understanding of what goes into their grade.
Whew...that's a long post but it sure does feel good to have that bit of planning done and ready to go. I hope this helps someone out there and if you have any suggestions or new ideas I would love to hear them, especially if you have posted about your Reader's Notebooks on your blog. The more ideas the better I always say!
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