Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Close reading workshop (?!)

Last week I started a short unit on close reading of informational books (borrowed on a cart from the school library). The first lessons involved writing summary paragraphs of books they chose from the cart based on personal interests. The lesson-within-the-lesson was how to generalize from specific details. For example, in a book about pugs, don't include details about taking care of the pet in the book summary, just include the sentence, "This book explains how to take care of pugs."

The next lesson was using the index to find information. I chose books from various nonfiction genres (natural science, technology, history, cooking, sports, arts and crafts), one book per station per student, and wrote a question that required students to use the index to answer. My largest classes have 13 students, smallest 6.) Students worked independently at each station for about three to four minutes, then moved to next station. Managing the flow of the stations "carousel" was tricky, since no matter now hard I try to equalize the question difficulty, students work at different paces, so I need to encourage the fast ones to do a thorough job (and practice patience) and the slow ones to move along (with nudges toward the right path of discovery as needed).

The third major lesson will be using maps and charts in informational books (by this time, I have traded in a fresh set from the library). I'm writing multiple choice questions to prompt students to read visual information and related texts carefully. I'll use the stations/carousel format for this.

Based on the terrific selection of books available, thanks to a fantastic Library Media Specialist, I've been challenged to study internal combustion engine diagrams, solar-powered turbine towers, how to draw manga faces and poses, graph charts of how many professional baseball games are completed by starting pitchers over the past hundred years, just to name a few. This unit is an interesting blend of reading workshop and close reading practice. I think we are enjoying it!

1 comment:

Kathryn from Schoolmarm Style said...

This is a great idea. I might steal and modify it to get my kids into working on research skills.