Thursday, June 7, 2012

Improving Response to Literature for YL

When I taught 4th graders they had to prepare for the California State writing test. Since the genre of the test changed every year we had to make sure students where prepared for Narrative and Response to Literature.  The test was in January and I knew that the students wouldn't be ready if I just did a unit on Response to Literature.  So what I did was to teach each them part of a good response to literature and then created a form that covered all the areas of a good response and distributed each part for each weekday.  Students had to read 30 minutes per night, so I had them do a short response every night.  We first practiced with the form in class for a week and then I sent it home with them.  This really helped them be prepared when we finally did the Response to Literature unit and they were ready for the test.

Later when I moved to 1st grade I adapted it so that it could still target the same RL parts but at their level.  This was really successful it not only helped with their comprehension, but as time went by, their responses got longer and their writing improved.  Their confidence when we did read-alouds also improved because they new what character traits were, setting, connections, what they like or not about the reading and were able to do a retell of the story.

On Monday I had them work on Character Traits. I simplified it by having them draw what the character looked like, then I taught them different adjectives they could use to describe a character and each time we read a book they chose one character trait and made a sentence explaining why they thought the character had that trait.  I taught them setting, so on Tuesdays the form asked them to draw the setting with as much details as they could draw and write about the connections they could make to the book they were reading. Wednesday was the day to draw a picture of their favorite part of the book and write what they liked or not about the book and explain why or why not.

Then on Thursdays they wrote a Summary about what had happened in the story.  At the beginning of the year I would have a space for Beginning, Middle and End of the story.  Then as they got better at it I took that out and had them just write a Summary.  For more advanced students who were reading longer books I had them adapted to the part they had read so far that week.

Now I am using it with my bilingual/binational students who are 2nd and 3rd graders, but since they do not attend an all English school and we only meet once a week I am using the simpler form, but they have been making great strides although they had not worked with any of the RL parts in the past.

I have the students keep them in a binder so that we can go back and see the progress they have made in their writing, drawing and responses.  If you are interested in getting a PDF of the file please email me.

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