Opening the Door for Reading: Sharing Favorite Texts to Build Community
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Use literacy skills to make connections among those in your classroom with this lesson that focuses on building classroom community by sharing favorite texts with one another. In this lesson, the class explores environmental print then focuses specifically on a teacher-created display on a favorite book. After exploring the teacher's display, students write about their own favorite book, genre, or author. Students then select one of several options for making a display of their favorite book to share with the class. After creating their own presentations, students share them with the class and complete peer- or self-assessments. The lesson presents a fun way for teachers to share their love of literature with students and for the students to get to know their teachers as a reader.
Comic Creator: This online tool allows students to easily create and print comic strips.
Multigenre Mapper: Students use this online tool to create multigenre, multimodal texts that include a drawing and three written texts. They can name the genres for each section, making the tool flexible for multiple writing activities.
From Theory to Practice
How do we inspire students to share what they are reading with others while also sharing their emotions associated with the texts? By modeling! In their Primary Voices article, Joyce Dyer, Angie Lovedahl, and Tina Conley describe how they share their love of literature with their students. The authors elaborate, "Every year Tina is sure to read Tina the Ballerina to her students and tell them how, as a young girl, this book made her love reading. It had her name in it, and she loved it for just that reason and carried it everywhere. Connections are so important to readers. Joyce shares her connection to Charlotte's Web when she tells students all about the farm where her daddy worked. They had pigs there, she tells them, and of course they always want to know, 'Did they kill any of the pigs?' Questions like this set book talk in motion for her students. Angie likes to let students in on her responses to her "grown-up" reading." (29)
In this lesson plan, teachers also share their love of literature-first by decorating the classroom door and then by talking to the students about their choices and emotions. This modeling helps students as they follow in the teacher's footsteps.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
Materials and Technology
- Classroom library selection
- Posterboard, paper, markers, other art materials
- Teacher-decorated classroom door
- Writing journals
- Select a favorite novel, picture book, genre, or author to introduce yourself to the class. Alternately, the choice can relate to books, genres, or authors that will be studied that year. The text that you choose will be the focus of the classroom door decoration and class discussion. Consult this list of Children's Book Awards for a comprehensive list of award-winning children's literature.
- Choose a scene from the book, parts of the cover, representative symbols from a genre, or notable titles/covers from an author, and decorate the entrance door of the classroom with the selection.
- Depending upon your goals, you can includ the name of book, author/illustrator, or genre on the door.
- Assemble posterboard, paper, and art materials.
- Make appropriate number of copies of requirements list and rubric.
- Test the Comic Creator and the Multigenre Mapper on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.
- View the examples of decorated classroom doors.
- evaluate and discuss the teacher's door decoration.
- listen to a book read aloud by the teacher.
- write in their journals about their own literary favorites.
- plan and create a display about literature, genres or authors.
- assess their work and the work of others.
- When the students enter the room, take care of first-day school tasks and routines.
- At the appropriate time, invite the students to examine and explore environmental print in the classroom.
- Ideally, they will take notice of the decorated classroom door. If not, ask them more directly about print on the door.
- Shift the discussion to an exploration of the door by asking students to share their impressions or observations of the door.
- After the students have contributed, “walk and talk” the students through the decorations on the door.
- Invite students to contribute details they know about the focus of the door.
- Tell students about the book, genre, or author highlighted on the door.
- Invite students to ask any questions they have.
- When the discussion is complete, share actual text with the students—the favorite book, selected books from a genre, or chosen books by an author.
- Work on any extension activities based upon the shared book, genre, or author.
- In their journals, invite students to write about their favorite book, genre or author. Their writing can be open-ended, or you can supply students with prompts to write about.
- Once the students have finished writing about their favorite book, genre, or author, invite the students to “pair and share”—to choose a partner and share their favorites with each other.
- When students have had an opportunity to share, explain that the class will make displays of their favorite to share with the entire class.
- Explain the decorating option that you have chosen:
- Students can work together in pairs or small groups and take turns decorating the door.
- Students can use posterboard to make a display for the walls of the classroom.
- Students can use the Comic Creator to recreate scenes from their favorite books or illustrate something about a particular author.
- Students can use the Multigenre Mapper to draw and write about their literature or genre.
- Students can use the Book Cover Creator to create covers or dust jackets for their favorite books.
- Students can work together in pairs or small groups and take turns decorating the door.
- To provide students with further examples of door decorations, show examples using a computer and projector.
- Hold a class discussion, critiquing what the students have seen. Allow time for students to comment on what would make a good display and what would be distracting. List students’ observations on the board or chart paper.
- From this class conversation, the students could create their own rubric or assessment piece for the project, or distribute copies of the rubric and discuss how it relates to the class discussion.
- Determine what should be required on the displays by brainstorming elements and recording them on the board or chart paper. Alternately, share and discuss the List of Display Requirements.
- Allow some time for the students to brainstorm some ideas of their own for their display.
Sessions Three and Four
- Review the rubric or class-created assessment criteria and the list of display requirements, so students know what the targets are for the project.
- Explain who will assess the project—the teacher, students through self-assessment, or peers.
- Before students begin designing their displays, they need to plan what they will look like.
- When the students have completed the planning process, provide time for them to work on their displays.
- Monitor students as they work, and assist as needed.
- When the students have completed their displays, invite them to share them with the class.
- Assess the students using the rubric or class-created assessment piece as they present their displays. If you're using peer assessment, arrange for students to provide feedback on one another’s work.
- After all of the students have shared, they can assess their own work using the rubric or using the class-created assessment piece.
- Display the students’ projects in the classroom, hallway, or on the classroom door.
- Invite students to write about their display by responding to the following questions: Why did you choose what you did? What did you include? What did you leave out?
- Select award-winning texts and authors as a class, and create displays about those topics.
- Extend this project to a schoolwide activity. Have each classroom and instructional area choose a book, genre, or author to highlight.
- Celebrate an important teacher, librarian, or library media specialist by having each classroom choose literature or authors meaningful to the chosen person.
Student Assessment / Reflections
Students can assess their own work using the List of Display Requirements, and adding their own comments and reflections. For more formal assessment, use the rubric or the class-created assessment document.
On the other hand, nothing is as useful as the feedback students receive as they share their displays with their peers. Informal feedback from students who respond to the displays and search out the related books, genres or authors are excellent feedback for students.