I started a Book Study at work this year… something I probably wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing on my own in my first year of another school. I would have been nervous about putting myself out there or that no one would show up. But guess what? People showed up! It was a great conversation and I decided that I could definitely use some of the principles of this book in my class.
I had already talked to the Instructional Coach about using our Structured Word Inquiry practice in a new way. Previously, I’ve had students create the matrices to build words. That’s a great approach, but it can sometimes get confusing for students with limited vocabularies. NOW, I decided to set a guiding question that will connect two texts and in the question I’m including a word that we can dissect together using the SWI strategy to understand the word and question a little better. I pass out a filled in matrix to start with and students build words from that. Sometimes the matrix isn’t totally complete and students are still able to add on other affixes to the base. I think it helps to start with a structure and go from there.
These students were reading two books about artists using unconventional materials to create artwork, so our guiding question was Why do artists use strange materials to create their structures? We dissected the base struct, wrote out the guiding question, read the first book and took notes, and read the second book and took notes. We use those notes to write a formal response to the question (which will likely be a shared writing activity the first few times).
I think we’re doing a much better job of connecting the work we want students to be doing in the classroom with what I’m doing in small group, and I’m hoping that this more intentional approach will strengthen the students’ connection with reading and strategies.