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Mini-Lesson Monday: Reading Challenges

On Friday, I shared Jak’s reading challenge essay about Patricia McCormick’s Cut.  Today I want to share how I framed the assignment that led to his writing such a piece.

Objective:  Using the language of the Depth of Knowledge Levels, students will assess their current reading comfort zone, compare their reading of their challenge book to their typical reading experience, and analyze in writing both kinds of reading.

img_0342Lesson:  With their first quarter reading ladders on hand, I’ll ask students to reflect on their goals from that ladder with their tablemates.  I expect that each table will arrive at the consensus that they wanted to challenge themselves in terms of genre or text difficulty.

With that goal in mind, I’ll booktalk several titles and explain how they might serve as challenge books–Chris Lynch’s Inexcusable might challenge a reader in terms of its topic (rape); Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See might challenge a reader in terms of its length, multiple points of view, or vocabulary; or Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods might challenge a reader in terms of its genre (nonfiction).  I’ll continue to booktalk potential challenge books throughout the quarter.

For the remainder of today’s lesson, though, I’ll ask students to hone in on what they’d like to learn as a reader in order to achieve growth through their challenge books.  In writer’s notebooks, students will list the skills they’d like to acquire, using their tablemates to help them brainstorm.  We’ll develop a shared list on the board to help give further inspiration, and students will try to find a book that might offer many of those skills (vocabulary acquisition, a new genre, organization, etc.) through booktalks, their own searches, or recommendations of friends.

Follow-Up:  Once students have selected their challenge book and completed it, they will complete three follow-up activities (listed on the handout).  Students will write a one-pager describing their reading of the text, work with a group to reflect on their growth as readers, and then present their learning, mini-booktalks, and a creative project that represents both.

How do you summatively assess your students’ reading growth?

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