Winter break is officially in session! I’ve have had an overwhelming November consisting of the loss of my grandfather, grades being due, and my engagement! Now that I can breathe a little, I thought I’d share how I use menus to differentiate response to reading in my ELA classroom.
During my transition from science to ELA, I have transferred my use of menus across content areas because I found them to be extremely beneficial when assessing content knowledge and analyzing misconceptions. In an earlier post, I raved about how the Differentiating with Menus: Science has transformed how I assign homework and the type of products my students create. It still holds true today in my ELA classroom. I wish I would have photographed all my student work, but here are couple pictures to represent the range of products that my students created last year.
Sorry, Laurie. I didn’t purchase the language arts menu book, but I did use what I learned from the science menus to create my own response to reading menu for my middle school ELA classroom. As part of my two hour reading block, students begin the period reading independently for 15 minutes and responding to their reading in their journals or on their blog. This was scaffolded from the beginning of the school year when building stamina as part of the Daily 5.
Fostering a classroom of independent readers is essential. Nancy Frey and Doug Fisher have an awesome chart illustrating the relationship between independent reading and student achievement in their Rigorous Reading book. Essentially, the data shows that students who read independently are extremely successful academically, are exposed to more words a year, and they are out performing students who are not reading independently.
In addition to the scheduled independent reading time in class, students are assigned twenty minutes of independent reading for homework. In efforts to hold students accountable for independent reading, students complete an interactive reading log and a book report every Monday. Students have choice in selecting their weekly independent reading book and they way in which they complete their book report. It is recommended that students pick “good fit books” at their Lexile and interest, but students are allowed to read any text they want because the goal is to foster a love of reading in all my students.
My students have blown me away with the products they have created. I only have a few pictures, but I will be sure to post more of the awesomeness after break. Projects have been so great that my students and I have even tweeted the authors our work. Darren Shan, author of Cirque du Freak, has constantly responded to our tweets.
Hope everyone has a rejuvenating winter break!