Friday, March 18, 2011

Creating a Textbook Based Reading Class You Can Live With: Part 1

A couple years ago when I was teaching fifth grade I decided to experiment with my reading program. I was not happy with the reading series schedule and my students were even less impressed. I was required to use this series, and I was expected to use the workbooks that accompanied the textbook. I knew that something had to change and one weekend came up with a plan that worked very well for my situation. Perhaps you can modify it to use in your classroom as well.
First I would like to state that this is not to replace the act of reading in the classroom. My students had 45+ minutes daily to read independently library books. Our reading series had very few reading opportunities in a week (how can we call it reading class when it is mostly vocabulary and skills that is being taught?)

This is the text from the blog post my students read to introduce this particular weeks work:

Image by mlhradio
After last years great Ghost Town moments, see post 1 and post 2, we have a high standard to meet. Since the skill this week is graphic sources you will have the opportunity to create your own. You will also look at Flickr pictures of real ghost towns to get and idea what they really look like. Then you are going to use Kerpoof to create your very own ghost town.

Here is the link to the checklist for you to use.
 The reading series story was a non-fiction story about ghost towns in the west. Because ghost towns have such a visual appeal I decided that I would incorporate a visual component to the week's work. This is the checklist I created for my students to print out and use. It is linked on the post above. The students would print the list if they needed to and then precede to go through the work. I created due dates because I discovered that many students needed guidance for what to do first. This really helped my students that were not very organized and it modeled how to break down a large task, finishing all this work, into more workable steps.

Ghost Towns Check List
Do page 244 in Reading Practice Book due Tuesday and choose two of the following due Wednesday:
  • Create graphic representations of each vocabulary word
  • Write definitions of each vocabulary word
  • Create a flash card with definitions for each vocabulary word
  • Use in graphic organizer as outlined in Skills section
  • Create a word web with synonyms of the vocabulary words (Visuwords is an excellent source)
  • Create a word web with antonyms of the vocabulary words (Visuwords is an excellent source)

Do pages 243, 246, and 247 in Reading Practice Book due Wednesday and do the following due Wednesday:
  • Got to my blog post on the Ghost Towns of McDonald County. After reading the post, click on the map of McDonald County. Make a map of McDonald County and put on it the ghost towns of Coy, Wylie, Saratoga Springs, and Erie.   Write why you think those towns are no longer here.

Content Gathering
Read story on Monday and Tuesday and do following due Thursday:

Note Taking
Choose one of the following to use to take notes:

  • Visual representations (sketch a few pictures of ghost towns)
  • Other: See teacher for approval ___________________________
Comprehension test over the story will be Thursday and pick one of the following due Friday:
  • UseKerpoof to create a picture of a ghost town. You choose the medium, but remember this is due Friday. Upload picture to the Compendium.
  • Other: See teacher for approval ________________________
On my next post I will explain how and why we approached our vocabulary work.

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