Monday, March 15, 2010

The Goals and the Plan...

First off, I must say that the time change hit our house like a lead balloon this morning. They didn't crack an eyelid until about 8 -- that is HUGE in our family...usually Nick loves to creep around (and get into too much mischief) before 6 am.

Ok. So the goals.

Matt said he really wanted to start and finish a book he picked out at the school library for his Book Share (another name for good old fashioned book report) due next week. Good idea. We talked about what the project entailed, and he told me that it was a book jacket with a summary inside. So I gave him a suggestion to try and 2 stacks of different colored post its. I told him that at the end of every chapter, he should write a mini summary (one or two sentences) about what that chapter was about. On the other color post it, he should write a couple sentences about how that chapter fit in to the book as a whole. By the end of his reading, he should have an easy time writing his book jacket...pull out the post its and voila! Here's why the two colors...there is a bit of a difference in summarizing a chapter and summarizing how the book is coming together as a's like a puzzle. I plan on sitting down with him when he does the first few. Summarizing chapters isn't too tough (although for some kids it is -- we can touch on that...I do a few strategies with kids to help them) but summarizing how it comes together as a whole is a bit trickier.

So on to Ben. Ben wanted to re-read his "Space Book" -- a huge picture encyclopedia of space...could be a bit overwhelming -- so we talked. I asked him what parts he really wanted to focus on. Stars? The planets? Space Travel? He said he didn't know. So I told him to think about it some more and we would talk again. He is facinated by everything, so his mind goes from one thing to another. He decided he would focus on the planets.

The book is organized with lots of pictures, captions, and explanations all over the pages. I thought a minute. This was one time I needed to do some teaching as he is reading. Nonfiction is very different from fiction. All the pictures, graphics, etc. are there to help the reader understand the topic better. Many times our kids will read their nonfiction books and be missing half of the information because they ignore the captions and graphics because they think they are "extra" stuff. So I sat down with Ben and his book. I told him that every day when he goes to read, he and I would talk about a new item he sees on the page and I would explain how it works. For example, on one page there was a comparison chart/graph of the sizes of the planets. I will sit down and explain it to him, and then we can talk about how it relates to what he read in the paragraphs. Another example is just to teach him how captions work -- so much good information there! Many, many times kids will look at and be facinated by the picture, but draw conclusions without reading their many questions could be answered if they just read those few sentences under the pictures!

So Ben and I are going to work on nonfiction text structures and how that helps our understanding of the topic.

Sam was trickier. He loves to weasel out of working whenever possible if he thinks it's working. But I will catch him picking up books, sketching, and doing "work" many times without my asking...when he doesn't think it is "work." So I asked him what he wanted to do this week. "I don't have reading from Mrs. Campbell," he stated firmly. "I know, but we are all making goals, even me," I responded. "We are going to steal this extra time we have for fun reading during Spring Break. We have so much time, why not?" I added.

He looked at me, studying my face as to whether this was negotiable. When he realized no, he started naming off a bunch of books. See? Stand your ground but don't make them defensive. It works.

"Sounds like you just want to catch up on lots of picture books you haven't read, huh?" I said. "Why don't you make it a goal to read one a day?" I suggested. "Maybe you can even read it to Nick."

He nodded. So I immediately had him go up to the bookshelves and select 7 books. I did that because 1) he was motivated, and 2) it will alleviate the "I don't know what to read." as the week goes on. So he's ready.

Nick is hot on Blue and Circle today...he even decorated his grubby hands with blue marker...whatever it takes! :)

Now take a moment. Think about what I did. First, my kids came up with goals. If they weren't sure, I helped them clearly come up with one without TELLING them what they had to do. Secondly, I gave them concrete steps to take to reach their goals. I will let you know as the week progresses how they are doing.

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