Do You Know What Your Students Really Like to Read?

I thought I did, and as a co-teaching team, we thought we did, but recently my 1st grade co-teacher and I inquired more into what our 1st graders like to read. We did this as part of our kindness themed PBL, where students created an art piece to be auctioned, to raise money for a Massachusetts 1st grade classroom that was receiving more students due to the damaging hurricane in Puerto Rico. Together we decided that many of these students and classrooms would need books, in particular Spanish or bilingual books, so we created the art piece below to raise money to purchase books.

But the question remained…which books? Now, perhaps you are thinking…why is this on this Fictional Stories in Science page? Good question. Perhaps it is a stretch, but within this lesson we used fictional stories as a broad theme to elicit language, decision making, and mathematics, to answer our question.

Using Scholastic book orders, students were divided into partner teams to discuss and identify books they thought first graders would like (they being the in-house experts) :-).

On a follow-up lesson, we provided them with the following scenario: Let’s say that each book costs $2.00 and each partner team receives $10.00 to purchase books. How many books is each team able to purchase? My first grade co-teacher then walked them through the math. Following this, we had them meet in their partner teams again to make those final decisions. This also supported our goal of more authentic conversations–and to support this even further, we provided them with a sentence starter: I think we should select this one, because __________________.

We were both thrilled by not only the amount of authentic language being used, but by their decision making skills, and how kind they each were with their opinions. Once groups were finished, we gathered them back on the main carpet to have them share their final decisions, and their why, with the class. While my co-teacher facilitated the sharing, I tallied their responses (a strategy we have been using).

Tallied book choices

We were surprised by their choices and the frequency. We thought for sure certain titles would come up with 10+ votes, but they didn’t. Also, their explained reasoning behind their choices gave us insight into their interests. Wow–we were impressed!

At the end of the lesson, we reviewed the features of tally marks and we shared with the class that this is just one way to record and show responses. Another way is by creating a bar graph. I told the class I would turn these same responses into a bar graph for a future lesson. Below is the bar graph I created:

Bar graph of 1st grade book choices

It was so large, I displayed it in the hallway, next to my office, so the students could gather around it and discuss the results and features of a bar graph. To my happy surprise, they weren’t the only class that stopped by–many others created on-the-spot lessons, and many students individually stopped by and shared their surprises and opinions with me and with each other. Yes! 🙂

So…what do your students like to read? This may be a great way to find out.

Happy Learning in the New Year! 🙂

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