Thursday, October 22, 2015

Independent Reading Is a Literacy Center Activity


It's October and leveled reading groups are in full swing.  It can be a daunting task to manage the children that are not working directly with the teacher while he/she is involved with a guided reading group. 

The question that goes through every educator's mind is, "What are the other children in my class doing while I am working with a reading group?"  It's a tough question and there are no "One-Size-Fits-All-Classrooms" answers.  Part of how the other children are managed depend on whether or not there is another teacher, a paraprofessional, or a parent volunteer in the classroom at the time that reading groups take place.

Whatever the answer may be, there's one thing that is for certain.  When students are working on their own, the assignment or literacy centers must be at their INDEPENDENT level.  This is a time for students to review or practice skills which they have MASTERED.  An exception to this is when students are working directly with another adult.  Then, they are working at their INSTRUCTIONAL level. When students are expected to work on a level that is beyond their current independent level, they become frustrated!  In the end, the teacher must reteach material that was learned the wrong way when adult support was absent.    

If the teacher is the only adult in the classroom while reading groups are taking place, he/she has the challenging task of creating meaningful, independent-level activities for all of the students to engage in. 

One of the best literacy centers that can be developed is independent book reading.  (If you have book corner with a collection of picture books that the children go to and randomly select books to view . . . . it's not an independent reading center.  Don't get me wrong!  There is value in "Book-Look" time.  But it is not independent reading.  That is, unless your classroom is filled with first graders that are reading well above grade level.)

In order to set up an independent reading center, you will need leveled books.  The small paperback books work wonderfully.  You will also need to provide each child (or pair of children) with their own storage container for the books.  Plastic ice cube bins make great book bins for the small paperback books.  You can get the plastic ice cube bins at a super-center store.  The cost is under $2.00 per bin.  Tape name tags to the bins to indicate the child or children that "own" the bin.  Try to replace the books with new ones on a monthly basis.  If you are using consumable booklets (the ones that you print and assemble), consider giving the books away (to the "bin-owners") when you switch out the books.  They'll love to take the books home and share with their families! 

Here is a photo of an ice cube bin that is used as a leveled book bin.   
This ice cube bin is being used as a leveled reader book bin.

The next thing that you will need to do is start supplying the children's ice book bins with books!  The only books that make their way into a child's (or pair of children) bin are the ones that he/she can read on an independent level.  Independent reading means that the child can read the book with little or no errors.  Most experts have considered that to be at a 95% level of accuracy for the lower leveled books.  Therefore, if the book has a total of 25 words, and a child makes1 error while reading the book, the child reads the book with 96% accuracy.  The book is within the independent range.  But, if the child makes 2 errors with the same book, it's at 92% accuracy.  Hence, the book is not a candidate for that particular child's book bin.   

The child's "just-right" books need to be his/her independent reading level.  

Have you assessed a child's reading level and found that the assessment tool was not quite accurate?  If you've conducted leveled reading assessments with lower elementary aged children, you've seen this!  You've tested a student on a "B" level book and he's at instructional level.  Then, you've tested the same child on a "C" level book (within a week's time) and he scores at independent level.  Did he make a level's worth of reading growth in one week?  No.  

What happened????  

Many of the leveled books focus on a small handful of sight words within a single book.  If the book on the "C" level happens to have sight words that the child knows, he might score at independent level.  At the same token, if he doesn't know the sight words in a "B" level book, he might make a few errors resulting in an instructional level score.  

Think of the assessment tool as narrowing the gap but not always hitting the nail on the head!  

I've been creating my own collection of READING BOOKLETS.  My reading booklets include word cards for every word within the text.  This includes both the sight words and the vocabulary words.  I've also included assessments for each book so that teachers can easily check for accuracy and determine whether or not a child can read the book independently.  My READING BOOKLETS are the print, fold, and staple style.  There is no cutting with scissors.  There is no use of a paper cutter.  Many of my booklet files include both a color version as well as a black and white version. 

Some of my books are "singable".  I love using the well known tunes because many parents will  be able to find the song on the internet.  Some parents might also recall the tune from their own childhood experiences.  The video below shows my attempt at singing one of my books to the tune, "Oh My Darling Clementine".  

Phew!  Glad I'm finished singing!  I wanted my book, Find a Pumpkin to have an alternate version for an ending.  I wanted something that was not as heavily associated with Halloween as was my original version.  Although, it is harder to say, "Send it to a cat named Chase." than the first option. 

If you'd like, listen to an instrumental version of the song at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences - Kids' Pages.  Follow the link here.

The images below are from my fall themed booklets.  Click on any of the images to view at my shop.  The first one is a book about the days of the week which are presented in sequential order.  The second booklet is sung to the tune of, "Oh My Darling Clementine".  The last booklet is about a visit to a pumpkin patch.  The last booklet is a FREE RESOURCE that you can get at my Teachers Pay Teachers shop.

The titles of the three booklets shown above are:  SUPER KIDS!, FIND A PUMPKIN, and PUMPKIN PICKING.  I am planning to make more READING BOOKLETS in the future. 

There are several artists that should be credited for the adorable illustrations in the booklets that I made.  They are  Laura from Whimsy Clips  and Sarah from Educlips.  Visit their fabulous shops!

That's all for now!

Lessons by Molly © 2015  All rights reserved.

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