I have moved into teaching 5th grade this year after many years teaching the primary grades. In trying to move away from using reading comprehension worksheets and Accelerated Reader quizzes during reading instruction, I have been putting a lot of thought into how to structure reading instruction and assess student performance as readers. As I continue to evolve as a reading teacher, I have been doing a lot of reading about reading instruction. Many of the articles that I have found have prompted me to make the changes that I am trying in my classroom, including these resources from Richard Allington (and here), and this wonderful website, Daily CAFE from the Two Sisters.
My goals as a reading teacher this year are to:
- Make sure my students continue to (or learn to) love reading.
- Help my students learn their strengths and weaknesses as readers so they can set appropriate and attainable goals.
- Provide instruction, support, and feedback to help my students reach these goals.
- Encourage discussion about reading among my students, both in writing and orally.
- Help extend these discussions about reading outside of our classroom through the use of technology so that my students are exposed to diverse perspectives about the texts they are reading.
To accomplish these goals, here are some of the things that I am trying this year:
- I am continually working to expand my classroom library by involving my students in the book selection process. My newest idea is to teach them how to use the Scholastic website to find books from their book clubs that I can purchase with bonus points the next time I place an order. If they find a book they like, they can add the information into a shared Google Sheet that I will use when ordering books.
- I am trying to have individual conferences weekly with each student to discuss what they are reading. We will use this time to look at reading goals and discuss any successes or struggles the students are having. I am hoping that other “requirements” don’t get in the way and that I can continue to fit this into my reading schedule.
- Using information from the one-on-one conferences and other observations, I will do strategy groups with my students to provide instruction where needed. I will also use the information gained to help shape the concepts and skills covered during my whole-group mini lessons.
- Students are required to post a weekly blog post on our classroom Kidblog to respond to what they are reading. I developed a rubric that I will be using to evaluate their posts which will also give them a grade. I linked the rubric to 5th grade Common Core standards so we can make sure that we are staying accountable to district and state requirements. You can find the rubric here.
- We will begin connecting with other classrooms using Kidblog to share our responses to reading, starting with The Global Read Aloud. I think that it is important that students are exposed to other viewpoints outside of the brick and mortar walls of their home school. We live in a globally connected world, and our students can’t wait until they are older to learn how to effectively communicate and collaborate with people of diverse backgrounds and life experiences.
I am sure that I will continue to evolve my classroom, as this is only my second month in 5th grade. I just hope that time restraints, politics, and standardized test pressures don’t interfere with what I think are best practices for building a classroom of successful readers!