Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book in an Hour

It's spring cleaning time, and I've been busy organizing, filing, and recycling all kinds of papers.  The best part of this horrible chore is discovering a lesson or idea that you once loved but had forgotten.

Buried in a pile of papers, I found a packet from a conference titled, "Intriguing, Inspiring, and Innovative Ideas to Make a Difference in Your Reading Classroom by Dr. Deb Wellman and Dr. Madeline Kovarik. As I flicked through the pages, the words "Book in an Hour" jumped out at me.  When I was still in fourth grade, I remember trying this strategy with the book Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman. 

Book in an Hour goes something like this:   Pairs of students choose or are assigned a chapter from the book.  No one gets to read the first chapter or last chapter.  When they are finished reading, partners write down the "gist" of the chapter.  They also write down questions they have about previous chapters and questions they have about future chapers. 

When students are finished reading and writing, the class comes back together.  The first chaper is read aloud by the teacher.  The students then take turns sharing the information and questions from their chapters.  As their peers are sharing,  students have most of their questions answered.   The last chapter is then read aloud.  Any remaining questions or thoughts are discussed. 

Like I said, it had been awhile since I used Book in an Hour, but I thought it might be a good differentiated activity to suggest to teachers.   I was excited to be invited into a fourth grade room to "try it out." 

Unfortunately, it didn't go so well.  The lesson wasn't a total flop, but it was close.   After debriefing with the teacher and reflecting on my own, I madesome changes (more modeling, more practice, shorter book) then tried it again in another fourth grade classroom using the book Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner.   I'm happy to report that this time it went much better.   I was pleased with the inferences and questions that the students generated.   Best of all, students were engaged in an authentic task that resulted in meaningful discussion and a wonderful shared reading experience.  

So, "Book in an Hour" turned into "Book in a Couple of Days", but it was time well spent.  Wish spring cleaning was half as fun.

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