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Nuts & Bolts: Literature Based Reading: 2nd-3rd Grades

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Literature Based Reading Program

for 2nd/3rd Grade Multiage Program


Prior to my teaching in an intermediate multiage classroom, I team-taught a multiage program for 2nd and 3rd grade children. During this time my teaching partner and I developed a reading program based in part on one developed at Madrona Non-Graded School in Edmonds, Washington. Our program used children's literature exclusively and was divided into three components: 1) Individually Paced Reading, 2) Small Group Reading, and 3) Read Alouds.

Individually Paced Reading

We had between 1,000 and 2,000 books that we sorted into 31 sequentially leveled bins plus 10 genre bins. It took us a while to gather this many books. We got them from retiring teachers, garage sales, children's book clubs, library discards, donations, etc. Each bin had between 10 and 30 books. We conferenced with students individually, letting them read a book to us that they had chosen from the bin they had been working in. During the conference we listened for fluency, use of punctuation and expression, pronunciation, word attack skills, and vocabulary. We used our checklist with our reading rubric to assess their reading and to help them improve in the areas they were weakest in. Depending on their performance during the conference, they either moved to the next higher bin level, read a few more books at the same level, or if we noticed some extra growth they sometimes skiped a level or two.

Small Group Reading

We believed that people learn to read by reading thoughtfully. The small group reading circles were designed to give students thoughtful reading practice at their approximate skill level. We used children's literature mostly because students enjoyed reading it more than basal readers (the stories don't have a contrived vocabulary) and because the richness of it allowed students to learn and practice good reading skills in context.

In our class we had six reading groups that met during the same half hour each day. To accomplish this we relied on parent volunteers, high school students, and older elementary students. Oral reading helped students hear and practice good reading. For this reason we found it best to change oral readers at each paragraph while the group was reading. For example: adult, student, adult, different student, adult, etc. We chose students randomly if we found they were frequently distracted.

Read Aloud

At the end of each day my teaching partner or I read from a children's book to the entire class. We chose books that either we were passionate about or that were of high interest to the students. Reading aloud to the students gave them another model of good reading and allowed them to practice visualizing the scenes form a story.

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copyright © 2004 by Russell Yates