During our “Bear Camp”, which is a get-to-know-you week at beginning of 6th grade, I pass out magazines and encourage my students to cut out pictures they like. It helps the kids feel more comfortable and natural talking to their new friends at their table groups and also to me. I spend the day getting to know them and getting ideas about the kinds of books they might like to read. Then we spend a second day gluing the pictures on reading notebooks, completing reading surveys, and starting to check out books.
At the end of these two days, I feel like I’m getting an idea of who each unique student is. In addition, they are feeling more comfortable with each other, which will make sharing partnerships better. The decorated notebooks are just a bonus benefit.
On the next day, they glue in the Books I Want to Read sheet and I spend the day showing them a book trailer from each genre while they list the ones they like on their list.
The next day I have them glue the Reading Conference Notes sheet in while I tell them about having a growth mindset. I explain how we are going to measure where they are now and set goals to help them grow to the next level, and the next, and the next. I also tell them what to expect when I have a conference with them.
I let them know that I will either call them back to the small group table or I will pull a chair up beside them. We will fill in their current reading levels and talk about who they are as a reader. I will ask them to read me a page from their book aloud. Then together we will take notes and set goals on where they want to grow next as a reader.
As the school year progresses, we will monitor progress and continue to raise the bar. As our school motto states, “Never Stop Improving!”
By now they are beginning to finish books, so we glue in the My Reading List. I issue them the challenge of finishing 30 books this year.
All the while, they are reading a minimum of 20 minutes a day in class and 30 minutes a day at home. The focus has been goals, growth, and record keeping. With these habits and structures in place, we are ready to get to the real nitty gritty next week. 2018-19, here we go!