Friday, October 12, 2012

Rethinking "Just Right Books"

It started when a 2nd grader picked out a Just Right book and when asked about his choice answered, "Well, it's the hardest (aka thickest, longest, chapter) book in the classroom."

This led to a conversation about breaking it down for children so they could speak about their Just Right books in more comprehensive ways and learn to appreciate the various qualities of the books that the teachers look at when they determine whether or not a book is Just Right for a student. 

Lesson 1 in 2B-- Why Do Readers Choose Books? 

  • Background:
    • In the poetry study, the students are focusing heavily on word choice, why poets choose specific words and how words how words help the reader to visualize the text
  • Goal:
    • Connect the idea of finding "juicy words" in poems to attending to the vocabulary and word choice in other forms of literature as well.
    • Teach children to speak about literature in terms of the words and vocabulary when deciding whether it is "Just Right."
    • Develop an appreciate for language in literature and an understanding that vocabulary may be more or less complex regardless of the "size" of the book. 
  • Minilesson:
    • Model finding interesting words/phrases in "Mathilda." Talk about why they are interesting, what they mean, etc.

  • Independent Work:
    • Make a list of "words you love" in your book.
Language from Amelia Bedelia that makes the book funny.
J=Juicy words (interesting) and SJ = Super Juicy (new vocabulary)
Interesting points that came out during conferences and the Share at the end...

  • Sometimes the words might not be that "juicy" or descriptive but there is something about the language that makes you like the book, such as how the play on words makes Amelia Bedelia so funny, or the rhythm of the words in a poem. 
  • Sometimes the words are really big and hard to read or hard to understand. There are ways to figure out what they mean. 
  • Sometimes the vocabulary makes the book to hard to read and enjoy. 
  • It's ok to decide that a book is not right based on the vocabulary or the words. 

The next step is to figure out how to chart their ideas and thoughts as conversations about language in books continue. Right now, we're thinking an infographic. 

More to come on follow up lessons... 

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