Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Notebook Connections

I'm loving having time to read some professional development books.  I posted about reading The Book Whisperer last week, and now I just finished Notebook Connections: Strategies for the Reader's Notebook by Aimee Buckner.  I really enjoyed this one as well and many parts of it went well with the ideas in The Book Whisperer.

Notebook Connections gives really concrete ideas of how to teach/organize language arts, which I loved!  I felt like it helped me bridge a lot of the ideas I have.  It is also great for all of us 4th grade teachers that she teaches 4th because it is written for exactly our level of students, and she gives lots of book ideas!

My favorite ideas from it:
  • Start the year off teaching strategies and making students practice them.  As they get more comfortable with strategies, give them more choice.
  • She gave three different ways of having students self-assess their notebooks: free response, guided questions, and using a rubric.  I love all three!
  • The strategies in the book are awesome!  I also loved that she gave book ideas to introduce some of them.

Right now, I'm thinking that this is how I will have students do responses:  In the front of their notebook, they'll track what they have read, as suggested in The Book Whisperer.  Then, they'll have a section for strategy notes, so they're all together.  Then, the biggest section will be student responses.  I am planning on having students do three responses per week: one practicing that week's strategy done in class, one choice one done in class, and one choice one done at home.  I don't think I'm going to do reading logs this year (we'll see if my new principal is ok with that).  The Book Whisperer convinced me they weren't good and having a homework response makes me feel like students are still accountable for reading at home.

I don't know how often I'll have them self-assess, but I think that I will read 16 each week, so I will see each student's every other week.

This book really helped me feel like I'm getting a stronger grasp on how I will structure language arts this year.  I didn't feel successful last year and it took so much work every weekend for me to set it up.  This year is looking much more promising!

Still on my reading list:
Daily 5
Notebook Know-How (Buckner's writing notebook book)
and maybe some more!

What are your favorite teacher resource books?

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