Monday, September 5, 2016

3 ways to get your students super excited about reading in the first week of school!


Hi teacher friends,

Would you like some ideas for getting your new students fired up for reading this new school year? That is always the first thing on our reading to-do list each year with our new students. You see, we want our kiddos to be so super excited about everything at school...especially reading....that they can't wait to get back the next day to see what they will get to do next.  That curiosity and excitement can easily be fueled and will quickly turn into motivation to read.  Here are a few ideas to try.

1. Grab A Book Game

This game is designed to get your students familiar with some of the great books in your class library, get them into the books, and get them talking to each other about books.  It is fast paced and fun!


What to do:

Have students sit in groups of 3 or 4 either on the floor, or at their table groups if your seating is arranged that way.

Gather a pile of some of the greatest books from your classroom library for each group, and spread them out in the middle of the groups.  Tell the students...no touching yet.  "Nope...nope...don't even think about it!"  Then explain and model what to do in the game.

When you say go, each student will grab a book as fast as they can, begin paging through it to see what it's about, what the characters might be like, if it looks like it will be good and why, and so forth.  They get 2 minutes to do that.  (Fun timers on your SMART board or those countdown timers with lights, add to the fun.)  The idea is to take a quick look to find out all they can about the book without reading it. Older students will need to read the table of contents, the blurb on the back, and to really look at the cover art and what few pictures may be inside.  Younger students will need to do a picture walk to see what the book is all about.

When time is up, each student in turn shares a little bit about the book and why it would be a good book to read.  To keep the pace brisk, you might want to allow each student 30 seconds to share with their group, and ding a bell or blast a horn (the crazier the better) at the end of each 30 second time.  After all at the group have shared, the students then set those books aside, and another round of the game begins. You can have as many rounds as you have books available or as time allows.

At the end, your students will have been introduced to a number of the books in your classroom library, will have broken the "discussion ice" with some new classmates, and will be motivated to go back later and read some of those great books during independent reading time.



2. The Gift Of Reading Activity

You know doubt have a pile of books that you want to readaloud the first week of school. Here's a way to add more intrigue and motivation to reading them, by giving your students the choice of which book to read. The catch...only you know what the books are, so it will build anticipation and will be a surprise for your students. 

What to do:

Wrap each book in a different color/type of wrapping paper and add a bow.  Display the wrapped books on your white board ledge, a book shelf or any other display area you may have.  

Prepare a festive looking gift bag with a bow attached. Display it in a prominent place...perhaps beside the books or on your desk.  Inside, place numbered slips of paper (or colored slips or other slips depending on how you label your student groups) that match the number, color or symbol for each of your table groups.  

Explain that the book fairy has left a gift of these books to your classroom for you to read aloud to them.  (Side note.....If you live in Seattle, you could wrap them in Seahawks paper and tell them that the Seahawks mascot Blitz, gave them the books. "Go Hawks!")  Tell them that each day, a different table group  (or group of students, or other depending on how you organize your classroom) will get to choose the gift book to be read.  

Then each day, draw a slip of paper from the bag.  That group of students puts their heads together to decide which gift book they will choose.  When you are ready to read it, they also get to unwrap it and reveal it to the class.  

Such a fun twist to add to your daily read aloud that first week of school, and great to bring back now and then throughout the year.

Chapter book version:
Instead of great picture books, choose 5 of the novels or chapter books you will be reading to or with the class this year.  When they unwrap each, instead of reading the whole book, just read an excerpt of the most exciting or intriguing part. That will build lots of excitement and anticipation for when you do read the whole thing.  You might have to tell them..."No fair running to the library to check them out and read them ahead of time!"  

Notes:  I highly recommend that you have the students' choice made sometime in the morning, but actually read the book right after lunch.  It is a great way to settle them down and ease them back into learning after lunch, that first week of school.  Also, the more you make them wait, and build it up, the more excited they will get. "Ooooo....who will get to choose the next book?"  "Now, before the group unwraps it, what do you think today's book will be about?  Really?  Okay...let's read and find out!" You can even give "super guesser" awards to those who guessed correctly.  Just another little thing to keep the fun going. 


3. Rocking Reader Cards 

I don't know about your school, but our school has LOTS of assessments to get done that first month of school.  They are great because they help us to know our students' strengths and needs as readers. I love them and can't target my teaching well without them!  But.......they take weeks to finish, right? Well, we just don't have weeks and weeks to waste guessing what our students need to learn.  So what do we do?  We sit and listen to our kiddos read.  We talk about books with them.  We "kid watch" during reading time to glean all the information that we can.  

Well, while you are doing that, it is the perfect time to boost up all of your readers by making them feel like Rock Stars for what they already do successfully. So those first few weeks of school, when you take a minute or two to listen to each of your students read, choose 3 things that they are really great at already and praise that to the hilt!  Really use that opportunity to build each child up!  Then write those things down on a Rock Star card or some other celebration type card or paper, and give it to the student to keep or stick on their desk.  It will make them feel good about themselves every time they look at it! We all know that success begets success, so what better way to get them excited about reading, than to start the year by pointing out what they are already really great at! Here's a FREEBIE of Rocking Readers cards and Super Guesser awards, if you would like to use them. 


So there you go.....while setting expectations, building stamina, and practicing reading are super important to do those first few weeks of school, don't forget to get your kiddos so excited about reading that they just can't wait to get back to school the next day.  We hope these ideas will work for you, or that they will spark another idea or two for building excitement.

Happy teaching friends, and here's to a fabulous year full of students who make 3 year's reading growth in 1 year! 

Smiles,

Kristin

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