Tag: Global Read Aloud

Building Readers

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Our goal this year is to build a community of readers. In order to build strong life-long readers, we must foster a true love of reading. Very often students are told which books they must read and when the power of choice is not balanced, students will disengage and reading will become yet another task that needs to be completed. There is a time for structured reading to learn the skills necessary to delve deeper into text, however our end goal is to build a love of reading so that students will continue to read out of enjoyment which will also grow the amount of reading they do.

One of the very first steps in this process is to introduce students to the endless amount of resources available to them and guide them in choosing books that are suitable based on interest and abilities. We are so very lucky to have access to any book in the entire world whether through our local and provincial libraries to thousands of online resources. We have been talking in our classroom about how and where we can find books well as how to know if it’s a book we are interested in and are able to read. This learning process is very important as I don’t want students to be at frustration levels when reading. The end goal is for them to read and read and read.

I’ve begun to introduce them to books they may have never read or even heard of before. The Global Read Aloud that we participated in chooses the top new books by authors from around the world. Students then share their thoughts, reflections and connections with peers also reading the same book. The books chosen resonate with their readers and I continue to read these aloud to the students year long to build that connection and model for them that deep love of reading. When I close a chapter and hear “Awww…no!! Keep reading Miss Ariss, keep reading,” thats when I know those connections have been made. This is the feeling we need to build with our students.

In our classroom, reading is an integral part of everything we do. We have dedicated DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time where students can choose to read independently or with a friend any book of their choosing. We will also be starting Literature Circles as well as focusing on individual strengths and areas of growth for each student in fluency and comprehension.

However, reading doesn’t end at school or in our classroom and so as a class, we created our own private reading community on GoodReads.

For those unfamiliar, GoodReads is the following:

“Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Our mission is to help people find and share books they love.

A Few Things You Can Do On Goodreads:

  • See which books your friends are reading.
  • Track the books you’re reading, have read, and want to read.
  • Check out your personalized book recommendations. Our recommendation engine analyzes 20 billion data points to give suggestions tailored to your literary tastes.
  • Find out if a book is a good fit for you from our community’s reviews.”

Students have already joined the community, learned about privacy settings, searched for books of interest and set their own reading goals from now until we come back to school in January. Goodreads can be accessed from anywhere at anytime, it can even be downloaded as a free app on your mobile device or iPod. Students will require the use of school, local and at home libraries to obtain their books/reading materials as Goodreads is not an online reading program. The reasons we will be using Goodreads to track our school and at-home reading are as follows:

  • It’s real and connected to the world. Students can share and reflect on what they’ve read with millions of others so that reading isn’t just happening in a vacuum. They learn about differing opinions and have access to titles they may never have had a chance to see.
  • They will read and write reviews and recommendations alongside other avid readers. Their opinions will matter and the amount of writing and reading they do will grow.
  • They can recommend books to one another after completing them. We all know that when a teacher or parent recommends something students don’t respond as favourably as when their best friend recommends it.
  • They will build independence and ownership of their own reading. They will be required to independently provide page updates as they read at home and at at school. Goodreads provides them with a visual to help aid their growth and progress. This will be monitored by me weekly so I can have individual discussions with students. I ask that they read at home and be provided with access to record in their Goodreads account. They can do this at school the following day as well if access is not available.
  • Students are very visual and often times pictures will grab their attention faster. Goodreads provides photos of each book so students can look at the cover and even read the first few pages of a book before deciding if it’s one they want to find.
  • They can create their own goals and share that with me. I have stressed continually that reading is NOT a competition between them and others. They read for themselves and they share that growth with me. We will have whole group and classroom reading goals that when reached, we will celebrate, however we are a team made up of individuals.
  • Our private Goodreads community also allows for group discussions about what we are reading. I have modeled a discussion question and will encourage students to start their own about their reading as we get going. We have also connected our community to other classrooms on Goodreads, one even being in our own Grade 5 team.
  • Students will also be asked to create book trailers to review a chosen book they have completed and will post completed projects to their blogs.

I have also stressed that for this, reading material can be of the student’s own choosing. It need not be purely fiction or restricted to just chapter books. The possibilities are endless and I will allow any reading material that can be recorded and students provide evidence of the why and what to me during our individual reading discussions. We want to build the excitement over reading and connecting and that means different things for different students.

As always, I rarely ask my students to do something I myself haven’t done, and so I, along with two other teachers have connected and shared our own accounts and reading goals with them on GoodReads too. We’ve also extended the information to our parents in the hopes they would join us too.

Students need to see, know and understand that reading is life-long and not just a task to be done at school. Are we modelling this to them?


Classroom Learning – October 6 – October 9, 2014

Here is a quick review of the week that passed and what to expect for this upcoming week!


We are continuing to work on problem solving and we started the week with this visual map of a Ghost in the Mansion. I posted the visual on the SmartBoard and students immediately tried to figure out how to manoeuvre from one area to another while also discussing how and why they would choose each route.

Working in groups to find strategies to move through the mansion.
Working in groups to find strategies to move through the mansion.

As students worked together to find the best routes, I decided to make it trickier. I wanted them to apply their thinking beyond the problem written on a piece of paper. I told them I was providing each group with a roll of tape and wanted to see if they could re-create the map on a larger scale and then manoeuvre themselves through it.

Now this brought up many more problems for them beyond the mathematical application as they needed to work together effectively to produce a common group outcome. We decided to move out into our pod and use the carpet space provided.

Starting to figure out how to apply skills on a larger scale.
Getting past the struggles to create their models.

Working in a group proved to be a huge challenge for most as each had their own idea and vision for how their models would look. Some groups worked much more effectively and were able to listen to group member’s ideas and ensured that all were involved. Others hit major communication roadblocks which hindered their progress. This activity transformed itself from a math problem to a social and group work problem and some very valuable lessons were learned. I was very proud though of each group for being honest about what their struggles were and in trying to apply strategies to solve. In the end, some groups decided to part ways and others remained in tact. Students also wrote individual reflections for me regarding what challenges they faced during this activity and how it affected their ability to move forward.

Now that the blueprint is created...how do we make our way through it?
Now that the blueprint is created…how do we make our way through it?

I was really amazed to see them work their way through their larger scale models. It was much harder for some to visualize the map while also moving themselves through it. Just a simple transformation of a problem, allowed them to view it much differently and made for a different set of strategies.

This week, we will review this problem again and reflect on our learnings. The students have also completed a mini review of place value and all have shown their knowledge and so we will be moving forward with estimation strategies. We will be beginning a project based on real-life applications of place value and estimation focused on purchasing property in Alberta.

 Social Studies

We have been learning about our heritage and who we are. Our theme for this year is ” Who Do You Think You Are?” as we also focus on Canada as a country and its foundations. We had a lot of discussions about where we think our ancestors came from and how they may have come to Canada. One of our starting projects was the one sent home with the students this weekend. To prepare them for asking deeper questions that transcend beyond the “what is your favourite food?” and more along the lines of “where is my family from and how and why did they come to Canada?”, students were paired up to interview one another. One student was the interviewer, another was the interviewee and a third was the question collector.

Interviewing one another!
Interviewing one another!

We brainstormed together just how we could transform the what, where and when questions into deeper why and how questions. Then we paired up with student’s from Mrs. Krefting’s grade 5 classroom to watch an episode of the show “Who Do You Think You Are?” where actor Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory discovers his heritage by asking deeper questions to lead him on his quest for finding the answers.

Collaboratively applying our interviewing skills.
Collaboratively applying our interviewing skills.

Students from both classes brainstormed a variety of open-ended questions while collecting their favourite ones in either a google doc or in their social studies duo tangs. Working with peers from outside of our classroom really helped them to connect and express their ideas more openly. They also re-met with Mrs. Krefting’s class on Wednesday and had the opportunity to hear Mr. Dahliwal speak about his family’s journey to Canada and ask him questions. Following that interview, they practiced a cold-call interview with me where I didn’t provide my family’s story until they asked me the questions that would lead them to their answers. It was wonderful to see the realization in their faces when a one-answer question was asked and it didn’t provide them with what they needed and in fact allowed them to re-process and re-ask it in a different format.

This week we will review their findings from their home interviews, discuss deeper questioning and fill in gaps as needed for interviewing at home before beginning to piece together the information.


We are learning about the connections between electricity, magnetism and static. Students each received a balloon, a variety of different materials and provided with an outcome but not with the “how” or “why” to experiment with their findings. Some  of the outcomes were:

  • Make the balloon stick to the wall without using anything else for help
  • Make a cereal pendulum swing/bounce without touching it, blowing on it or shaking the table

  • Make the cereal jump/move without touching them, blowing on them or shaking the table

  • Turn the tap on so that a small stream of water is running out, make the stream bend without touching it or blowing on it

Students recorded their findings along with how they did it, why they think it worked and any questions they had regarding it. Some of the ways they came up with for moving their materials through static electricity were absolutely incredible.

Video – She decided to crush her cereal and use her balloon as a magnet

Video – Using the cereal to move her balloon

Video – Realizing how she could move the balloon with her leg

Instinctively using balloons to create static electricity!
Instinctively using balloons to create static electricity!

This week we will be focusing on electricity and circuits.

Language Arts

We are participating in the Global Read Aloud with the book The Fourteenth Goldfish. Students have been making predictions and tweeting their thoughts via our Twitter account. We have been connecting with a variety of classrooms online about the story and what we think is going to happen. Students have also began to utilize their blogs for reflection on the story and a variety of other topics.

They were overjoyed to see their parents leaving them comments last week and interacting with their learning. They immediately wanted to read not only theirs but their peers’ blogs too. They have been reading, reflecting and providing each other with comments and feedback and welcome you to join us!

They will be blogging daily and we look forward to connecting with you!

This was a long review due to parent conferences last week but I sincerely appreciate your time and feedback. Please let me know below in the comment section your thoughts!

Some questions to ponder and discuss with your child and in the comment section below:

  • How can you apply problem-solving strategies at home to help your child?
  • Where do you use place-value and estimation strategies in your daily life?
  • Have you discovered something new about your family or enjoyed sharing something with your child about their heritage this weekend?
  • Where in your home do you have electric circuits and can you share these with your child?

We look forward to hearing your feedback as a class!

Miss D. Ariss