Monday, November 30, 2009

Session 5

  1. This session puts together all four parts of the literature circle process.

  2. Have students choose their own books to read, either independently or with partner pairings reading the same book. If necessary, use this time for a "guided reading" type small group, with all group members having their own copy of the book.

  3. When about twenty minutes have passed, have students stop and write a sentence or two in their reading journals about the story. Let students know that they can write anything about the story, especially about the main character.

  4. After about five minutes or so, have students finish up their writing and refer to the "directions sheet" in their reading journals. They should look at the list of questions on the back of the page. Explain that today they will be talking about the first question in their group. Read it aloud, and have them read it with you a second time.

  5. Tell students they will take turns in their groups talking about who is in their book and what they did.

  6. Have students get into heterogeneous groups or four or five to start work. As they talk among themselves, circulate and listen in, giving whatever support they might need. Ask questions about their books, and suggest that they ask each other questions as well.

  7. As each group is finished, have those students do their "Second Writing Time" in their journal. Explain to them that this time, you want them to write about who the book is about and something they did in the story—the same thing they talked about in their group. If students say they already wrote about this, have them expand on their writing with additional details.

  8. Circulate among students as they write. As they finish, they should show you their writing and read it aloud to you. Ask each student additional questions about the story they read and/or write your questions in their journals. If the writing needs clarification, have students add more detail. If they want, they can draw a picture on the same page or the back of the page to go with their writing.

Session 4

  1. You will be rereading the same story that was read in Session One, so that students can do an additional written response in their journals. This is the guided practice session for the "Second Writing Time" part of the literature circle process.
    Gather students together in a large group for a read aloud. Tell them that you are going to read them the same story that they wrote about in their reading journals, and that they are going to be writing about the story in their journals again. Ask them to listen for the problem and solution.

  2. When you have finished reading the story, ask students to respond to the story orally. First let them give whatever thoughts they have about the story, then ask a series of questions to help them reflect on the story. For some sample questions, scroll down!
  3. After several responses, remind students they have already written a little about this story in their reading journals, and now they are going to write more. This can be left open-ended, or students can be given a prompt if they need more support or assistance.
    Make sure that students understand that they are going to write on the same page they wrote on before, continuing their writing. Draw a large picture on the board showing where they should start writing, if necessary.

  4. As students write in their reading journals, circulate to read and check their work.

  5. As students finish, have them read their writing to you, and then draw a picture that shows what they wrote, either on the same page (if there’s room) or on the back of the page. They should use just one journal page if possible.
    As students finish, have them tell you about their drawings. If there’s time, you might write a comment in their journal, or an additional question to answer about the story.
    Sample Questions
    What do you know about the person in the story?
    What did the character want to do?
    What do you like about this character?
    What was the problem in this story?
    What was wrong?
    How did the problem get solved?
    Who fixed it?
    Do you have a favorite part?

Session 3

  1. This is the guided practice session for the "Book Sharing" part of the literature circle process. Have students choose a fiction book to read that is at their level. Students will be reading independently for about twenty minutes. If students are not yet able to sustain reading for at least fifteen minutes, read a story with them in a small group. You’ll need multiple copies of the same book for this group so that each child will have a book to hold and share in the large group. Students can also "partner read" during this time as another support strategy, with pairings of lower and higher reading level students.

  2. Tell students that when they finish their book, they should think about the person in the story and what happened to him or her. Remind them that they are going to be writing and talking about the stories after reading time, and that you will be asking questions. Let students know that if they want to read another book, they need to keep the first one because that’s the one they are going to write about and share.

  3. After fifteen or twenty minutes of reading independently, have the whole group gather in a circle with the book they are going to share. Have each student tell the title of the book, who was in the story, and something the character did. If a student has trouble answering, ask some leading questions, such as, "Was it a human or an animal?" or "Was it a boy or a girl?" and then, "Do you remember his or her name?"

  4. When everyone has shared, ask if anyone has any questions about anyone else’s stories.

  5. This may take some time, but it’s important to set the stage for sharing in complete sentences and listening to others. If you are lucky enough to have an aide in the classroom, break into two separate groups to use time more efficiently, but make sure the aide knows what to ask the students and understands that this is practice for when students will be working alone.

Session 2

  1. 1. This is the guided practice session for the "Reading Time" and "First Writing Time" parts of the literature circle process. Gather students together for a read aloud story. Choose a story with an interesting character and a clear problem and solution.

  2. After reading the story, ask students questions about the main character, problem, and solution.

  3. Explain to students that they are going to write a sentence or two about the story in their reading journals. Instruct them to write the date first, then write the title under the date. Draw a large ‘sample page’ on the board to demonstrate, if necessary.

  4. As students write independently in the journals, circulate among them to read their work. As students finish their writing, they should check it with you. When all students are finished, have volunteer students share what they wrote about the story so that students can understand that there are many ways to respond to stories. When students are finished sharing, choose one of their responses, or your own, and write it onto the chart paper sample page. Keep this large sample for Session Four.

Session 1

  1. Explain to students that they are going to make reading journals. Demonstrate the procedure for making the journals by making a sample, then write the needs list for making the journals on the board for student reference.
  2. Have students make and decorate their own journals. Write "Reading Journal" on the board for students to copy as a title.

Literature Circles w/ Primary Students Using Self-Selected Reading

For self-paced literature circles, students choose their own reading material, respond to reading in a journal, and talk about their books daily in small groups. The teacher guides the work through structured prompts and by rotating participation with the groups. Students read at their individual levels, while heterogeneous grouping provides peer support. This lesson is a structured guideline for helping students learn to think about the books they read, and to ask questions about books shared by other students. It is especially appropriate for mixed-age and upper primary classes, or for cross-grade buddy work. From Theory to Practice
Talking about books supports written responses to reading.
Sharing books orally can help students recall main plot points and details in the stories they read.
Working in heterogeneous groups provides support and modeling for students who need assistance.
Choosing their own reading materials helps students learn to read for pleasure.
Sharing thoughts about reading introduces students to a wide variety of books.Further ReadingDaniels, Harvey, and Marilyn Bizar. 1998. Methods That Matter: Six Structures for Best Practice Classrooms. York, ME: Stenhouse.Fountas, Irene C., and Gay Su Pinnell. 2001. Guiding Readers and Writers (Grades 3-6): Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

The Students Will:

  • read independently for an extended time.
  • write personal thoughts about stories they read.
  • talk about stories in small groups, responding to given prompts.
  • ask questions about shared stories.
  • use details about stories they read to respond in writing to specific prompts.

Instructional Plan Resources
General classroom supplies (blank 8x11 paper for journal pages; 12x18 construction paper for covers; mimeographed directions and questions list; access to the classroom library; chart paper; markers).
A read-aloud story that has an interesting character and a clear problem and solution. Two possibilities are Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola, or Miss Nelson Is Missing by Harry Allard.


Mrs. Harrell graciously searched the internet and discovered these wonderful sites to help your child with Keyboarding. I would highly recommend that your child spend some time during the week to help improve his / her typing skills!

Free Typing Game

Keyboarding Games

Typing Games

Hyper Typer

Keyboarding Games w/ Links

Monday, November 23, 2009

State Reports Research

General Internet searches:
Fifty States information at
Info Please at
General State Information at
Library Resources Information:
Start at
Look for Library Resources
Encyclopedia Britannica
User Name: springbranch
Password: libraries
ABClio (State Geography)
User Name: spring
Ebsco - Searchasaurus
User Name: springbranch
Password: libraries
Discovery Education
User Name: springbranch
Password: libraries

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Casey At The Bat

This morning, we were entertained as we watched a motivational production of Casey At the Bat. The kids learned about humility and cooperation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fiction Lesson

Today, we had a library lesson on Fiction books. Here is what was learned:

Everybody Books Are / Have...

Made Up Stories
Illustrations (color)
Title Page w/ Author
Beginning, Middle & End (Plot)
Usually 32 Pages
Spine that States the Title
Call Number (Author's Last Name)

Fiction Books Are / Have...

Historical Fiction
REaslistict Fiction
Fatasy - Science Fiction
Table of Contents

After the lesson, the kids were given the oppotunity to select a Fiction book to check out! Please encourage your child to always use the 5 finger rule (Select a page and read it. If you come to 5 words on that page that one doesn't recognize or know, then that book is too hard!) when selecting a book!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Balance & Motion

This nine weeks, we are studying Balance and Motion. Yesterday (and today for some), we concentrated on what makes things balance. I opened the lesson by brainstorming a list of things that balanced. We spoke of Counterweights and how humans use their arms to help them counterweight their bodies. I then showed them this clip of how gymnist balance:

The class then got to make a mobile to take home and share. On the mobile, there should be 3 vocabulary words written:

Balance: when an object stays in position on its own without being held there.
Stable: it's steady - it's not falling over.
Mobile: is a system of balanced beams and objects.

Next, I poked their curiosity as we tried to figure out how rollercoasters balance and use counterweights. I have to admit, I'm a little partial to The Texas Cyclone that used to be at Astroworld!

Questions to ponder over dinner:
What do you have to do to get a mobile to balance?
What kinds of things could you use besides pictures to make a mobile?