Are you looking for ways to challenge those advanced readers in your upper level (4th and 5th grade) classes? A great way to enrich those students who are reading above grade level is to form a Readers’ Group. Star readers at the elementary level often become complacent, sticking with the series and authors that they have been reading for years. One way that you can really stretch these students is to introduce them to the different genres of fiction. Provide lots of examples of books from different genres and get students reading! You can then use the Novel Response Options that I have provided below to get students thinking, writing, and drawing about what they have been reading. This is the type of group that you can sustain throughout the entire school year as there are many genres that you can cover.
Start your planning for this group by talking to the fourth and fifth grade teachers and asking them each to identify 2-3 students (or more, if you only have a few classes at each grade level) who would benefit from some reading enrichment. You can then make two groups, one for each grade level, that you can meet with on a weekly or biweekly basis. When trying to find a 30-45 min. block of time during the school day that works for you and the teachers, you can encourage the teachers to send students to you during the time that they have set aside for literacy instruction. Students in your group will certainly be working on reading and writing, and classroom teachers will be able to devote this time to those students in their classes who need extra help.
When you meet with students, get them excited about the group and explain the purpose. Tell students that you want to help them to become more well-rounded in their reading. Explain that students will be reading books from a variety of genres and completing activities to help them think about those books on a higher level. When you are planning with teachers, it might be wise to encourage them to allow students to turn in the activities that they complete in your group as reading assignments so students don’t feel as if they are doing extra work (we all know that extra work never goes over big with elementary students!). You can even offer to grade the assignments if you really want to impress the teachers.
Begin instruction by introducing your first genre to students, then let students browse for books. You will have a lot more success if you pull a bunch of books that fall into your genre and allow students to browse those rather than letting students loose in the library at large (unless you want to add an online catalog component to your lesson and have students search for books!). Once students have chosen their books, you will have to give them time to read. Don’t be afraid to give your students time for silent reading when they are meeting with you. It would be wonderful if you were to sit down during that time and read as well! You can use the books that you read if you want to create examples for how to complete the Novel Response Options. You will have to decide what type of reading requirements you will impose on your students (read a certain amount of pages by the next meeting, finish the book by a certain date, etc.)
Here are some ideas for what to do when you meet with students:
- Give them some silent reading time
- Discuss the characteristics of a new genre
- Introduce the Novel Response Options for the genre and give examples of how to complete them
- Offer time to complete Novel Response Options, and give assistance where needed
- Meet with students one-on-one to discuss progress and answer questions while other students are reading or working
- Allow students to share their Novel Response Options with the group or in smaller groups
Your most important goals with a challenge group like this are to expose students to a variety of level and age appropriate novels and to get students thinking on a higher level about the books that they read. Do what you can within the time constraints that you have and you are sure to have some grateful readers (and teachers!)
Novel Response Options for 5 Genres of Fiction: