Friday, November 25, 2011

Digging In With Read To Self

Of the five components of the Daily 5, I would have to say that Read to Self is my favorite.  Why?  I'm glad you asked.  It's because my students are more focused and productive during Read to Self, than any other time in my classroom and during any other component of Daily 5.

When I launch the Daily 5, I always start with Read to Self.  Reading to self is also known as independent reading.  It's important that my students are building stamina, and able to read independently for at least 20 minutes before I introduce the other "Daily's" (the other parts of the Daily 5).  In my first few mini lessons for Read to Self, we address the importance of selecting good fit books, choosing a good reading spot, and building stamina. We also create the Read to Self anchor chart which is covered in the book.  First, we discuss why reading to self is important, and that information is written on the top of the anchor chart.  Next, we discuss what the students will do, and I record their responses on the chart.  Finally, we discuss what the teacher will be doing, and I record those responses too.  Modeling appropriate reading behavior is also very important, and it's my students' favorite thing to do.  Two or three students are selected to model the incorrect way to read during Read to Self, followed by the correct way to read during Read to Self time.  The book suggests selecting a student who would typically have trouble staying focused or engaged.  The modeling gives them the opportunity to get silly and play around in front of an audience.  However, they are also required to model the correct way for the class.

During Read to Self I gather my students on the rug in the meeting area.  I start with a short focus lesson which lasts about 6-10 minutes.  Your focus lesson should be about 1 minute per the age of your students. Since I teach first grade, my focus lesson should generally be about 6 minutes long.  When I'm looking for a text, I always look for quick reads so that my focus lesson stays within the 6-10 minute time frame.  After the focus lesson I send row one off to find a reading spot quickly and quietly (Q and Q).  Then rows two through four are sent off in the same manner.  Since we are gradually building stamina, we start with reading independently for 3 minutes, and increase the time by one minute each day.  The most important aspect of the stamina building, is to stop Read to Self when things begin to fall apart.  Even if only one student is not reading or is off track in some way, the entire class is signaled over to the meeting area, and the reading is stopped.  This prevents the reinforcement of negative reading behaviors.  I ring chimes to signal my students over to the meeting area.  Some teachers signal with bells, music, drums, or simply call them over with a verbal signal or chant. 

Having students self-evaluate and reflect is very important during the share time.  We share and reflect on what went well and what we can improve on next time.  This year my students and I graphed our reading stamina each day.  After each 10 minute increment was reached we had a classroom reading celebration.  From time to time you may find that you have to refer to the anchor charts when things are not running smoothly.  I have found that it is helpful to share the anchor charts after holidays or other extended breaks as a reminder of what the expectations are in our classroom.  In this way the anchor charts seves as a community building piece as well.

During our Read to Self time my goal is to conference with 2-3 students, and meet with 1 or 2 strategy groups each day.  Once I have my entire Daily 5 up and running, I continue to keep my first round a whole class Read to Self round.  This is a little different from what most teachers do but it works for my students and my classroom.  When all of the Daily 5 is up and running, the rounds tend to get a bit noisy.  Having one round of Read to Self ensures that I have at least that round each day, when things are a little quieter and much more manageable.

This year I incorporated Flashlight Friday (see my parent letter below) to my Read to Self time.  I asked my parents to send in a small flashlight with their child, and I informed them that flashlights could be purchased at the Dollar Store.  Of course flashlights of all sizes were sent in.  I also purchased extra flashlights and batteries to keep on hand as needed.  Currently, we do Flashlight Friday during the last 10 minutes of the day on Fridays.  My Daily 5 rounds remain the same, but the students are getting a little extra reading time, and they love it.  During Flashlight Friday, we turn off the lights and the students read by flashlight.  It's another way to encourage reading.  I love when I say, "It's time for Flashlight Friday" and my students respond with, "Yes!"  
Flashlight Friday Letter

Read to Self looks a little different in my classroom.  However, the most important thing about digging in with the Daily 5 is to "Make It Your Own".

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