IMG_82024th and 5th are well on their way using the Kindles.  Last week I shared with you how I was doing Comprehension Focus Groups with my older kiddos.  I found I was doing almost all of the heavy lifting academically.   I was doing all the prompting IMG_8203and all the locating of tricky words and even making thoughtful connections.  Fabulous.  Great job, Miss Acuff…right?  Sure, I am able to do all these things, but it’s now my job to make sure I’m teaching the older kids how to do this for themselves and how to share their learning with the others in the group so they all grow independently and collaboratively.  This hasn’t been easy by any means.  This has taken some practice and we are still choppy.

I found some Literature Discussion Group job cards online and I thought they were really neat.  I thought they could be a guide for our groups.  Instead of me single-handedly trying to facilitate ALL of the group roles, I let the students pick their own job, focus on that one job, and then share it with the group.  We discussed what would be a good time frame to keep the jobs and we decided that we would keep 1 job for a week before switching.  This doesn’t mean that they can’t keep being a role they really like, but the goal is to eventually get them to being masters of every job.  After I prompt with a few opening question and give them a purpose for reading for the day’s session, the kids are free to choose a spot in the room to read their selected chapters and complete their job.  Students take notes while they are reading so they can answer all aspects of their job.

I was surprised that there were no “fighting” over jobs.  Each kid wanted something different.  And while I thought I would be “stuck” with being the discussion leader or perhaps having to force someone into that role, in both groups that was the first job picked.  I still have notes in my lesson plans of good vocabulary words, setting, connections, and discussion prompts, but it’s inspiring to see what the kids have IMG_8200selected as being important.  They are fully taking on their learning while having me there to facilitate and guide the learning in the right direction.  I was shocked when one of the discussion questions was, “Why are they having to talk about a book when we are trying to read about the book they have to talk about?”  The question stopped all of us in our tracks and we really had to think about what had happened in the story, process what we had read and what she was asking, and then discuss.  It wasn’t a yes/no question, but one that took deep comprehension of what was happening in the story.

So the kids have been super enthusiastic to be reading on the Kindles.  I have to practically pry the Kindles out of their hands so we can have our discussions, which I LOVE!!!!  I have never had to practically beg students to STOP reading.  Wow, right?

IMG_8199Both groups picked a book as a group that they were interested and then I made the final decision after finding a book that was on their instructional reading level.

4th grade all wanted to read Franny K. Stein books and I found Franny K. Stein, Fantastic Voyage,was on their level and one none of them had read before.  They made my job super simple.

5th grade took over an hour for me to find a book.  They all had such different interests and I tried to find one that was their reading level and the whole group’s interest level.  After searching and searching I found one they all liked….only to discover that it isn’t released on Kindle until January!!!  So it was back to the drawing board and looking over their book interest survey.  The next highest rated book series was the Weird School series.  5th grade ended up with Miss Daisy is Crazy.

This is an exciting time for 4th and 5th grade.  Check back in with us soon to see how all of us are doing with our new Comprehension Focus Group jobs!