In my 14 years of teaching, I have used book nooks, or book boxes, in one way or another for reading workshop. However, my thinking about HOW I use them has changed in many ways.
As a result of common core and my own professional development about best practices with reading, I have changed my thinking about how I use book nooks with my readers.
My Old Thinking:
Readers shop for just right books at their independent reading level.
My New Thinking:
Readers shop for just-right books that they are interested in, can decode, and understand.
I cringe when I think about how rigid I was in my thinking about students shopping for books. When I first started teaching, I focused my reading workshop mini-lessons on students choosing a book that was at their independent reading level. I also explained to my students that they would meet with me in a guided reading group and we would read books that were at their instructional reading level. In order for students to select a book at their instructional level, they had be cognizant of their reading level. Their reading level basically determined what books they were “allowed” to read in the classroom library. Even though I had this rule, my students did have the opportunity to read any books, at any level during in the morning. Their “seat work” was reading and they could read any books from home and/or school.
I now realize how important is it to not limit our students book shopping to just books that are at their level. After learning more about common core, complex texts, reading professional articles, such as the blog posts by literacy guru Dr. Shanahan (Shanahan on Literacy blog), I have realized how outdated my thinking was. One of my #1 goals as a teacher is to develop a life-long love of reading and learning. If I want my students to truly be engaged in their reading, then I need to provide opportunities where my students can select books that they are interested in. Books that they can’t wait to dive into. Subjects that intrigue them, authors that make them laugh, new information that fascinates them…
So many books, so little time! :)
My Old Thinking:
Readers shop for books, which are organized by Fountas and Pinnell reading levels.
My New Thinking:
Readers shop for books, which are organized by genre, authors, series, subjects.
My classroom library was originally organized by the Fountas and Pinnell reading level of the text. I used Scholastic’s online book leveler to level every single one of my books. When I taught first grade, I had baskets of books leveled A – M. When I taught second grade, I had the same levels, but just added some books up to level P. When I started teaching third grade, I kept baskets of books starting at level J up to level S. Now, not only do I have my students help me with the grand opening (literally, grand opening!) of the classroom library, but they also help me sort and organize the books according to genre, author, series, and subject.
I explain this to my students by asking them how any book store, their town’s library, or even our school library is set up and organized. I ask my students what part of the book store is their favorite. Of course, not any students say, “The level P section!” No, they say the graphic novels or chapter books or books by a favorite author, or books from a favorite series.
On a related note, the I Survived series seems to be quite the hit this year with my third graders!!! Now, does this student need a conference so that I can encourage him to read different genres? Of course! But, in the meantime, student little guy is ENAMORED with this series and completely, whole heartedly engrossed with his reading!
My Old Thinking:
Readers shop for books only on their assigned shopping day.
My New Thinking:
Readers shop for books on their assigned shopping day, but are allowed to revisit the library if needed.
My students go shopping according to their assigned day.
Below is an example of a reader who might need to go shopping more than once a week. This student loves Amelia Bedelia and also Robert Munsch books. Who doesn’t?! These books would obviously be finished faster than a longer chapter book, such as Magic Tree House.
There are many times that I abandon a book. My most recent book abandonment was “The One Thing.” I felt was redundant and boring. I just could not finish it. If our students feel the same way, we should allow them the opportunity to switch their book. I DO, however, make sure that they are not doing this on a consistent basis! If so, then the student needs more coaching about selecting just-right books!
Old Thinking: I love cardboard book nook boxes from Ikea. ($1 per book nook!)
New Thinking: I love the neon colored book nooks from Really Good Stuff, for about $125.
Explanation: Well, this is really just a superficial preference of how they look. :) And, I must say, I love how they look! Although this is my first year using these from RGS, they are really sturdy and roomy. My only complaint (strangely enough) is that the fall down a lot. I did not notice this with the cardboard book nooks.
In the picture below, the student searching for arrays, but the picture shows the Really Good Stuff book nooks!
The picture below shows my cardboard box, Ikea, book nooks.
Although this shift in my thinking has rewarded my students in many ways, it is important to note that it has not have been necessarily “easy.” I have to make sure that I am consistent with meeting with my students in individual reading conferences, as well as reading partnership conferences. I want to make sure that my readers are interested in what they are reading, but also can decode and understand what they are reading. I am not looking for a percentage of accuracy as they read aloud, at least not for every time that I meet with a student. Instead, I am interested in learning about what my students are thinking about their reading (meta-cognition) and what they are understanding about the text.
What part of my thinking has NOT changed?
What is inside the book nooks.
My students keep a reading folder in their book nook, which holds their reading log and any other important reading mini-lessons, such as the building stamina growth chart.
In the picture below, you will see an example of the reader’s notebook. Every day, my students write the date, mini-lesson, and a few sentences about their book they are reading and/or how they are applying the mini-lesson to their independent reading.
I do not use any foldables for my reader’s notebooks. I tried them but they just did not work for me. I found my students taking more time to cut and glue the foldables, and less time reading. And, most importantly, I did not find them to increase my students thinking about reading. Instead, my students write about what they are reading in their reader’s notebook and apply the mini-lesson that was taught.
Occasionally I will give them a picture to glue down in their notebook, such as below. This serves as a visual reminder for the mini-lesson and the students love to use real photographs from our classroom mini-lessons.
In the picture below, you will see that this student glued down a reminder from the mini-lesson. The mini-lesson was about the expectations of a reader’s notebook entry.
One more thing that has not changed is the importance of having an abundance of high quality books of all different genres, series, subjects, authors. I am constantly using my bonus points for new books from Scholastic book orders. And, I make sure to make a GRAND announcement about those new additions to our library! This works wonders for motivation and keeping up with the new novels/series.
Looking for more information??
In Gina’s post, titled Rethinking the Book Box, she writes about the changes in the ways that she uses book nooks with her students.
I love Gina’s idea about including reading materials for Microreads, Short Reads, and IDR reads.
Do you know about Dr. Shanahan’s blog? He is a literacy guru and pushes teachers question what they *think* they already know about literacy.
Have you heard about this book? The book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is literally being shipped to me as I type. Thank you, Amazon. I heard wonderful things about this book and can’t wait to start to read it. From what I hear, this author writes about the importance of instilling a love of reading in our students.
Looking for more information about implementing book nooks into reading workshop? Below is a file preview of my Reading Workshop resource.
This resource will help you implement reading workshop in your primary classroom. This 150 page file has everything you need to know in order to effectively implement a reading workshop approach with your rockin’ readers. More importantly, it will inspire your students to develop a love for reading time.
There are 23 mini-lessons that are included in this file, which focus on establishing routines and setting expectations for implement reading workshop with your students.
**Detailed lesson plans
**Colorful posters for you to print for your anchor charts
**Reproducibles for your students
During this unit, readers will learn to:
-Follow the structure of reader’s workshop (mini-lesson, independent reading, closing)
-Self-select books that “fit like a glove” from the classroom library
-Take a browse through the classroom library for just-right books
-Take ownership over the classroom library by cleaning book baskets and organizing books
-Use a book check out form to check out books in an organized manner
-Use library stick holders to aid their book shopping
-Use a shopping schedule to check out books on an assigned day
-Use book nooks to keep all their reading materials organized
-Celebrate the grand opening of the classroom library
-Commit to expected reading behavior- RW contract signing party
-Demonstrate specific behaviors of real readers (this includes a fun rockin’ reader art project)
-Build their reading stamina and chart growth
-Use reader notebook’s
-Read with a reading partner during reading partnerships
-Demonstrate expectations for reading partnerships
-Work together to solve problems that arise during reading partnerships
-Read with their partner and discuss the text
-Meet with the teacher for a reading conference
-Reflect on their reading partnerships
Click HERE to purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers.
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