Lesson 1: Using Choice to Create Lifelong Readers
Lesson Kick Off
Take a moment to examine one of your reading lessons. Highlight portions of the lesson where you incorporate student choice. How do you think these choices impact student agency and help foster lifelong readers?
Beowulf is just one of the many books I had to read in my high school ELA class. Don't get me wrong, Beowulf is a great book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. What I did not enjoy was being told what to read.
As educators, we are committed to cultivating students who are lifelong learners, that includes readers. Most of us have experienced the power of a good book. The kind of book that encompasses you and transports you into the characters' lives to the point where you can't seem to put the book down. That kind of book is called a "just right book." So, why do we subject our students to read books as an entire class they didn't choose?
According to Kittle and Gallagher, "However, there is something we can't seem to find in research: how teaching a year of whole-class novels builds all students' engagement and the habit of lifelong reading. When large populations of adolescents refuse to read what is assigned to them, and also do not read for pleasure outside of school, our curriculum needs revision" (pp. 44). One way to engage and empower our students is to provide them with choices in their learning.
In this lesson, you will learn ways to foster student autonomy through choice. To create a community of lifelong readers, students should engage in books they want to read. As educators, we guide our students into finding their "just right books" and the importance of reading for themselves rather than reading to get a good grade.
Providing Choice in the Classroom
Read the following article from Fountas & Pinnell (F&P) Literacy.
Key Takeaways for the Reading
- Choosing books is vital for developing lifelong readers.
- Classroom libraries need to be organized meaningfully.
- Text-level labels are limiting to students and should never be part of independent reading.
- Students build ownership of their reading lives when they select their books. Teachers can model strategies to find appropriate books.
- Flexible seating and classroom design can create an environment conducive to reading. Students can be involved in choosing where they sit and how the classroom should look, sound, and feel while reading independently.
- A reader's notebook can help students grow as readers. They can stop and jot down their ideas, opinions, and responses corresponding to the reading lesson.
Strategies to Help Students Find "Just Right Books"
When students choose independent reading books, they take ownership of their learning. When students take charge of their reading lives, they are more likely to enjoy reading and improve their comprehension, fluency, and decoding skills.
Watch the following video that demonstrates the difference between books that are too difficult, too easy, and just right. Make sure to pause when prompted to reflect on the questions asked.
Check for Understanding
Use the following quiz to check your progress.
The modeling of reading strategies is an important way to guide and encourage students to find books that are just right for them. Read the following outline of a reading workshop lesson provided by Park Hill School District focusing on Experience 3. Park Hill Schools use Lucy Calkins's curriculum for reading.
Review the following images of supplemental materials for finding "just right books."
Review the following lesson plan for finding "just right books." This lesson plan uses a template provided by Responsive classroom and modeled after Lucy Calkins's Reader's Workshop.
Using Padlet, share ways you have provided choices in your reading lessons.
References and Resources
Calkins, L., Tolan, K. (2015). Units of Student for Teaching Reading: Building a Reading Life: Grade 3. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann.
Kittle, P., & Gallagher, K. (2022). 4 Essential Studies: Beliefs and Practices to Reclaim Student Agency. Heinemann.
Park Hill School District. (2022-2023). Reading Curriculum (Grade 3). [Program of studies]. https://resources.finalsite.net/images/v1659710465/parkhillk12mous/wigqbehgiwlcxvpyilsr/3rdGradeELA-ReadingCurriculumBOE6-23-2022.pdf