Literacy rich classrooms share books. Lots and lots of books. These books create the foundation for conversations that teach children how to become stronger readers and writers. One way to help our classes hold onto our discussions is to create running lists of titles that we share together as a class.
This list is section of a list from one third grade classroom. By June, this list took up two columns on three separate pieces of chart paper. That’s a lot of books and a lot of reading!
However….With so many books in the mix, it’s easy for children’s thinking to become lost in the shuffle. If you’re looking for a more organized way to keep track of the books you have read together as a class, you might try an idea that Wanda, a fourth grade teacher borrowed from Beth Newingham: http://hill.troy.k12.mi.us/staff/bnewingham/myweb3/
In this picture, you can see that she makes a color photocopy of the books she reads aloud and shares with her class. As books are finished, they categorize the titles by theme. She hangs the title up next to the theme and as they read other books, students come around the display to make their text-to-text connections.
The pictures help to jog their memories and lead to richer conversations.
If you’re thinking about the time investment and the cost of color copying, don’t throw things away! Wanda laminates her color copies and files them in a box so that when she uses the same book from year to year, she can pull the color copy from a file and display it again and again.
Literacy rich classrooms talk about books. However, children are not born knowing the lingo for these kinds of conversations. During interactive read aloud, Kim Miehlenhausen refers her students to these “thinking starters” which students in turn use to prompt great talk about the things they are reading together in class. As students become familiar with this lingo, they begin to use it in their partnerships to support great talk about their own books!
Word walls document important learning in our primary classrooms. As students encounter new words, making these words visible and accessible helps to support children as they continue to integrate these words into their reading and writing repertoire. While teachers rarely dispute their importance, many will complain about space. Word walls take up a lot of room and lots of teachers just don’t have the bulletin board space to dedicate to a fully functioning word wall. One way around this problem is a large piece of felt. With a simple trip to the fabric store, any cinder block classroom wall can be transformed into an interactive word wall. Use a small piece of Velcro on the back of each word and voila! words can be added and removed easily!