There are several decisions you need to make before the first day of school. Part 1 of setting up independent reading time dealt with how much time each day and where to place it in the schedule. This post will focus on a plan for how to get to know your students so that you can pair each student with books that will hopefully interest him/her. Two of my favorites are interest inventories and Where I’m From videos.
There’s a lot of power in interest inventories. Teachers can ask lots of questions from where students shop and what video games they play to what counts as reading and how does a teacher decide who are good readers. The answers are always fascinating. My favorite answer of all time is featured above… #20. Why do you think a teacher asks all of this information? An 8th grader write “stocker”. Translated to Stalker! Yes, now is the time to find out all of the information you can on each student. I’ve found that most love answering long surveys because the questions are about their favorite subject: themselves. And now that we have collected information about the students, we can then begin compiling lists of books to recommend each student based on what he/she wrote in the inventory.
Another way is to have students create “Where I’m From” Poems. You can google “Where I’m From” lesson plans and find quite a bit out there about using George Ella Lyons’ poem as a template/mentor text. Lately I’ve been doing these digitally. Students read the mentor text by Lyons, write their own, find images, add the test and image to a videomaker (I typically use Animoto–since it’s plug and play), record themselves reading the poem, and publish. Below is my example that I share with my students.
This is the Interest Inventory I used when I taught middle school. Reading_Survey I have made it digitally now with Google forms. Feel free to steal questions, adopt, and/or adapt.
Here are the directions for digitally making a “Where I’m From” Poem. Where_I’m_From_Digital Assignment