Sunday, February 2, 2014
The World of Harry Potter
All month I have been participating in the 20 Day Blogging Challenge created by Kelly Hines. My 20 days aren't going to be within the same month, but it has been great to have these prompts to write from, as well as being able to read how others are responding to the challenge. Kelly has created another month of challenges. You can read about phase 2 on her blog, In the Trenches. Also, if you are on Twitter, you can read what others are doing by following the hashtag #BC20. It's been a busy week, so I am still on phase one.
20 Day Blogging Challenge, Day Eighteen: Tell about a favorite book to share and teach. Tell about at least one example of an extension or a cross curricular lesson.
I love the Harry Potter books! I always have. Years ago a friend gave me a copy of Sorcerers Stone not long after it first came out. I was a little lukewarm about it, and then I started reading. Then I couldn't stop reading. I will always remember the first year I read it aloud to kids. All I had to do was reach for the book, and kids would hush each other with, "Shhh! She's going to read!" It had that kind of effect, and it still does. Now I have Sorcerer's Stone on tape, and it is our current read aloud. I have a classroom set of the books, so students can follow along.
This book accomplishes exactly what I want to accomplish with a read aloud. It gets kids hooked! If you come into our classroom right now, you will see lots of Harry Potter books sitting on desks. Many of my students are now reading Chamber of Secrets, Goblet of Fire, or other books in the series. Last week one of my reading groups asked if we could read Prisoner of Azkaban as our reading group book. I had four copies and between the library and copies students brought from home, we managed to acquire enough copies for everyone.
This is my group of strongest readers, and I always have difficulty with this group because some of the group are such prolific readers that they shoot through whatever book we are reading, while others plod along slowly, and never seem to finish. This time I am trying a new approach to address this issue and keep everyone focused and on track. I am not going to tell kids not to read ahead when they are loving a book, but I also want to hold discussions to build skills and increase comprehension.
One of the dilemmas I run into is that my school district uses Houghton Mifflin Journeys for reading. I am supposed to teach the Common Core Standards through the use of the small readers that are part of this reading system. By the time we spend one or two of our reading group days each week on the readers, it is very difficult to move a group through a chapter book in a timely manner while students still have enthusiasm for the book. Not to mention the fact that these little readers are BORING and definitely not quality literature. This has also been complicated by time lost to district testing and because of weather. I have mostly abandoned the readers for my on grade level students and am teaching the standards using real chapter books. That makes it all the more important to keep everyone on track, so everyone benefits from those lessons.
One way I am trying to accomplish that is with a Blended Classroom approach, using Edmodo. We have conducted some of our reading group discussion using Edmodo in the past, but I am trying to do it more consistently. There are some great resources out there to add to student understanding and to build interest, including Scholastic's Prisoner of Azkaban page, and J. K. Rowlings website.
Edmodo is a great way to provide links to resources, as well as encourage student discussion and sharing. For the first time I am using Edmodo to create and conduct a quiz. It was easy to use, and very similar to creating a Google Form. It also connects with the Edmodo grade book.
Along with the group reading Prisoner of Azkaban, I am using Edmodo with two other groups. For each group we set a weekly reading goal. When students finish their reading for the week, they will log onto Edmodo to add to the discussion and take quizzes. Hopefully this will keep kids interacting with the text when they are ready, and not hold anyone back. Of course this will only work if I can stay on top of things, respond to the conversation and add resources for my speedy readers. With 29 students and 5 reading groups that will be a challenge.
How do you handle reading discussion when students read at different rates? I can use any advice that you can offer.