The Book Fort
Instructional Ideas for Immediate Implementation
Welcome to The Book Fort! Vol. 1 Issue 8
Missed previous issues? Find them below:
Week Eight: Getting in the Zone
In general, the older our students get, the less they love reading and frankly this is a crisis. It isn't a crisis just for those that are headed to college and who will be woefully unprepared for the sheer volume of pages they will be expected to read each week for various instructors. It is a crisis for the future of our country. Students who read more score better on standardized assessments and are better writers, yes, but they are also more ethical, compassionate, and well-informed citizens. We have to get in "the zone" ourselves right now, and we must create the right conditions for students to do the same.
Our future depends upon it, not just theirs.
The following strategies come in part from a close re-reading of The Reading Zone (2nd edition). I hope they reinvigorate you and give you some practical ways to get in the zone this week and beyond.
Atwell, Nancie, and Anne Atwell Merkel. The reading zone: how to help kids become passionate, skilled, habitual, critical readers. Scholastic Inc., 2016.
Reading Strategy: Reading Workshop
- Students must read frequently, regularly, and as part of regular classroom routines.
- Students must have choice in what they read.
- Students must be exposed to a variety of books through book talks, visits to the library, book trailers, and/or a well-stocked classroom library.
- Students need a comfortable environment in which to read, including alternative seating, space, quiet, lighting, etc. in order to get into "the zone".
- Students need encouragement and advice from adults about their reading lives.
- Students must become part of a culture of reading that is widespread and an embedded part of their academic lives.
- Students must interact with these texts in meaningful ways.
The text gives many suggestions about how to create the conditions necessary to facilitate this reading workshop and how to manage it with instructional planning and assessment ideas.
Writing Strategy: Writing about Reading
- Maintain a critic's journal in which students actively critique and analyze the text the entire time they are reading it, considering elements such as theme, authorial choices, narrative voice, character development in the context of the text as a whole.
- Write letters of critique on the entire text when finished reading based on the journal entries; these are shared with peers and adults and serve as powerful reading recommendations (or not).
- Compose book reviews that are published in print or online.
- Give book talks of their own that persuade others to read the text without spoilers.
Bonus: this prepares students quite well to take AP exams in both language and literature.
Grammar Strategy: Teaching with Tech
- Teacher accounts are free and all of your classes can be set up separately.
- This tool starts students with a comprehensive diagnostic assessment and sets up individual goals based on their performance.
- It is standards-aligned and hits the same mechanics skills that frequently show up on standardized English exams.
- Can be accessed outside of class for extra practice.
PBS Learning Media
What Kids are Reading
The Holy Bible
Isabella C., 1st grader at Christian Academy of Southern Indiana, recommends reading the Holy Bible because it teaches us about God's Word." Given an independent reading choice, this is Bella's go - to text. Precious!
The Numbers Trilogy by Rachel Ward
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Mr. Jordan's student, 11th grader Courtney at Horizon Science Academy, is completely into None of the Above. She likes this book because it focuses on a teenage girl struggling with her gender identity. The girl has a hard time figuring out what she wants to be and what others expect her to be. It's really interesting because it challenges my own thoughts and beliefs.