The first half hour of every day in my classroom is what we call "Beginning the day with Books." It is a very exploratory time when kids are reading books. We have made a list of what this time "looks like" so that kids have guidance about what choices they have in the room. Many kids are reading favorite books with friends, picture reading books, exploring new baskets, sequencing old poems written on sentence strips, or just about anything they can do to "play" with books in the morning.
This time is often the time I use for meeting with small groups. Years ago, I gathered all the books I choose to put into the hands of small groups of readers. Almost all of the groups were gathered as "leveled" groups for guided reading. I guided....gave them background knowledge, told them about the story they were about to read and loaded them with information that I thought they needed to be able to read a new book. I did so much of the work for many of my transitional readers that were actually ready to do this "guided work" on their own. This year I find myself having to really think about these kids who are 6 and 7 years old but score as transitional readers on the DRA. These kids do not need me picking out books and providing them with the intense guidance that some of my emergent readers often need. I have started to think about questions that I am finding I have about these readers. Questions like...
What kind of stamina do these readers have?
What do they like to read?
What do they know about choosing a book?
What easy texts do they have available for fluent practice?
These four questions are questions we have been tackling for the last two weeks. I am finding myself offering book choices within baskets ( series baskets, author baskets) that allow kids to practice a small group lesson whether we are talking about fluency, stamina or the thinking and noticing work we do as we choose a new book. It was interesting to hear a boy (on the latter end of transitional) say " I don't want to read Arthur's Pen Pal (it was in one of the choice baskets). Mrs. DiCesare, it has too many words on the pages." I immediately knew that this reader was beginning to think about his own stamina as reader. He choose from the Little Critter basket and new these books would be a better fit for him as he builds stamina with books. This kind of work feels like "guiding" readers to make choices and practice independently.