Adventures in Literacy Land: literature

Showing posts with label literature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label literature. Show all posts

Adding Student Choice with Guest Blogger Lauralee

Welcome to Lauralee from Language Arts Classroom, who is joining us today to tell us all about student choice when reading. Read more to find out how to add student choice when teaching literature.

I’m a reader, a lover of almost all books. Even books that I don’t love, I can normally appreciate a portion of. When I began teaching, I wanted my passion and excitement to flow to my students. And, the novice teacher that I was, I figured it would simply because of my excitement.   Of course, that didn’t happen. Some students were game, but others were clearly bored. Others didn’t read, no matter what I did. I struggled to reach all students - and I wanted literature to influence my students the way it did me.   Eventually, I found tricks that worked, lessons that reached more students. What I’ve realized is that these ‘tricks’ all revolve around giving students choice. By providing choice in literature lessons, I am reaching more students, my initial goal.   Plus, choice provides students freedom, and they are not in competition with other students. Don’t be afraid to implement student choice! To start, provide choice in small areas and move on when comfortable.   Here are quick ways to implement student choice in literature lesson plans today.   Novels   I’ve never had the freedom to choose novels with students (a YAL reading class would be a dream!), but choices with novels still exist. With older students, ask them what works best.

  • Students can choose what review and discussion activities they like after certain sections. Present different options and students can choose their favorites. For instance, with partners students can have discussion starter prompts. Group work allows for larger analysis. Individual work can also allow choice - which graphic organizer, which writing topic?
  • Students can choose the culminating activity at the end - presentation, paper, or artwork. I’ve had some students choose a test simply because they are good test takers.
  • Are students struggling? Ask what will help them. For difficult novels, they may want guided notes.
  Short Stories/ Nonfiction   Allow students to choose stories or nonfiction pieces with structure. Explain the theme of your unit and be honest about your resources. I’ve even told students what we need to cover - literary devices, analysis processes - and that is how I developed the list of choices.   Choices:
  • Students can choose what to read. Give students a list of short stories with a short summary of each. They can vote on the short stories or nonfiction pieces that interest them as a class. For instance, I teach a spooky unit during October and typically cover Poe. I want to cover Poe. Students need to read at least one Poe, but other suspenseful stories full of conflict are out there. I allow student input for which Poe story, and then they choose others. Sometimes, they want to read multiple Poe stories!
  • My students love choosing which nonfiction piece to choose. Since most of the choices are on the Internet, I give them web addresses and ask them to choose. Then I provide a list of questions (since I have already read all potential articles).
  Vocabulary   Giving students choice in what vocabulary they study has been the easiest implementation of choice in my experience.   Choices:
  • Students can choose what words to study. This can be as simple as their choosing a certain number of words. You can also provide students with a form.
  • Students can decide how to study the words: writing a story? sentences? stand-up comedy routine?
  • Students can choose how to analyze the language. What parts of speech are the words? Can they use the verbs as participles?
  With older students, using choice improved my classroom management as well as. Students engaged in the literature because they chose their method of studying. This makes sense; appreciating literature is a personal experience.   Providing choice for students may seem like extra teacher-work. I’ve found the opposite: students see success. I’m able to meet IEP goals without obviousness. Students experience failure, and as a class we make decisions together, and feel the repercussions of them - together.   When I think back to my simplistic approaches to teaching literature, I shudder. Choice has improved my teaching and brought the joy of literature to my students - my ultimate goal.

Lauralee from

Language Arts Classroom

Halloween Books for Kids

Hey there everyone! It's Bex from Reading and Writing Redhead. I am here today to share some ideas for Halloween themed literature you can use in the classroom, suggest to students for their library visits, or share with parents.  And I wanted to be sure to cover books for students through at least elementary school or perhaps evening for middle schoolers! Of course we all know books for students of a certain age can be appreciated by much older or younger children too. Some of the books I read to second graders are aimed to much younger readers and some are advanced chapter books. So treat my age recommendations as just that- recommendations! If the books are new to you, read them yourself first before you decide what direction to go in with them. You can find these books at your local library or click for more information about each book before you decide.

Lets  check out some ideas for the very youngest of children up to about kindergarten.
The Spooky Wheels on the Bus by Elizabeth Mills- The counting in this Halloween version of the famous book goes from One Spooky Bus to Ten Goofy Ghosts. Kids will be singing this one all month!

Spooky Pookie by Sandra Boynton- This cute book has Pookie the pig trying to choose a Halloween costume! Awesome for very young babes and preschoolers.

Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan - While this is not technically a Halloween book, lots of classes do owl units during October so I thought it deserved a mention. Its a cute twist on a bedtime story. Little Owl doesn't understand why anyone would want to miss the full moon. He ends up getting to sleep as the sun begins to rise. Great for babies-preschool.

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson - this fun story includes a witch who loses her hat, then lets a bunch of friends on her broom one by one and has kids wonder if there will be room on the broom for anyone else. It would work for preschoolers- grade 2.

The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin by Sonali Fry is a cute little twist on the Itsy Bitsy Spider and would be great for preschoolers.

Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O'Connell - in this story a witch moves into a ghosts' house and has to scare them off one by one. It is also useful if you are trying to find a book to make some math connections. This one would probably be appropriate for preschoolers-grade one.

Bone Soup by Cambria Evans is a tale of a little guy named Finnigin who is always hungry! He gets to a new town and no one will share their food with him. What will he do? If he stirs up a little magic, he must just create something good to eat.

The Night Before Halloween by Natasha Wing - great for kindergarten, first and second graders, this book in the Night Before series will get kids excited for Halloween and as a teacher I love the rhyming text!

Hallo-Weiner by Dav Pilkey is just awesome. I bought it back in 2007 and have taped and retaped it several times because the students can't seem to put it down. Its a cute story about a weiner dog who is teased for his costume but ends up saving the day (or Halloween night, actually). It appeals to kindergarteners-grade 2 or 3 I'd say.

The Best Halloween Ever by Barbara Robinson- this is the author of the well-known books The Best School Year Ever and the Best Christmas Ever. In this story, the six Herdman siblings always ruin Halloween by stealing candy and stirring up trouble - until the mayor cancels Halloween! Can it be saved?!

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Spears - a classic story that you probably already know. This is definitely for older children, perhaps ages 12-13+ and explores what would be like to be a young  girl in the 1600's who is suspected of witchcraft.

Zombie Chasers by  John Kloepfer -  Great for grades 5-7, this book combines silly and spooky as three kids try and deal with a zombie outbreak!

 So what is your favorite Halloween book to read? Let us know in the comments below.