Wednesday, March 5, 2014

World Read Aloud Day - Celebrating Nonfiction

Day 1: My students were struggling with the difference between table of contents, glossary and index. I cleaned up glossary quickly with the connection to a dictionary, but I still had several confused looks as I asked about an index? I had already pulled five books that I wanted to get into my students’ hands. I had noticed that not many of them were picking these books up to read. Prior to the lesson, I copied the index from each book and asked the students to work in pairs and choose one index. Finally there was a buzz about how an index helps find ideas “in” the text = priceless. 

Day 2:  Building on background knowledge-why Mrs. Caplin?  I am curious to know why students don’t want to build on their BK when reading?  Is it they don’t want to take the time?  Do they just want to read to find out new information?  Do they not see the connections with the text?  After our opening conversation, I have decided that is all three. I asked them to take out their index from yesterday and choose 3 words and write around it answering the question:  What do you already know about that word?  Then they found the corresponding book and read about one word from the index and recorded several new facts.  I was excited to listen to their conversations.  Two ideas came alive for me.  First students need to be taught how to confirm or extend their background knowledge. Second that most fifth graders think they “know it all.”  It was thrilling to hear, “I didn’t know that, did you know that?” = priceless.

Next time I need to think a little more about my artwork-ugh

Day 3:  Lessons learned from the chart above.  First of all I read Franki's blog at A Year of Reading about Smarter Charts K-2 and I started thinking about anchor charts in our room.  Next I started following Chartchums blog which helped me with my thinking.  I have never been one to know ahead of time what the chart will look like.  I allow my students to build the chart through our conversations, but this chart took me on a totally different path for instruction.  I have been trying (OK pounding) into my students that background knowledge really can help them with their comprehension.  
The left side of the T are their reasons why BK is important, but the right side is how using BK can change their thinking.  Finally we had a break through moment with the idea of text to self connections and how they need to be authentic.  I am not sure who said it in a workshop or book, but my students have been making ping pong connections.  No meaning and bounce right back.  Honestly I had almost banned them in my class, but now we have a stronger foundation so they are coming back to Room 228.  Another exciting moment was when J.  realized that BK helps because he might have new questions which lead to new research then to new learning = priceless.


  1. Maria, I really enjoy all your blog and the fresh ideas and reflections you share! Today I was re-reading some of your previous posts and noticed a detail in one of your pictures that I wanted to ask you about. :) You have a picture of books on shelves that appear to be magnetic and are on your white board. Are they magnetic shelves and where did you get them??? Thanks!

  2. Sorry, forgot to ask you where you got your magnetic book shelves as well. Thanks again and keep sharing!

  3. I thought I got them in the magazine Really Good Stuff but I looked for the link and didn't see them. I am going to tweet it out check out my twitter account someone will know @mariacaplin. Thanks for your comments nothing makes me smile more when a post helps another colleague.