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Curriculum

Reading

Blaine Elementary School uses books from the Rigby program. In third grade, this is a collection of books and teaching resources that we use during whole group, small group, and independent reading times. Books vary in difficulty, and teachers work to make sure that students are reading from text that is appropriate for their current levels.

During whole group instruction, third grade teachers use Rigby big books to model reading skills and teach students strategies that good readers use. We encourage students to use these strategies when they are meeting with us in small group guided reading as well as their in class and at-home independent reading.

In our small group lessons, third grade teachers typically meet with a group of 3-6 students around a classroom table for about 15-20 minutes. Students and teachers talk about what we already know about the topic (called background knowledge), predictions of what we think might happen, key words we run into (vocabulary), and questions we might have. Students might take turns reading aloud in our guided reading group time. We might ask them to read in unison or to read silently to themselves. Often there is a written response assignment that students are asked to complete to show what they understand from the reading. They practice the learning skill or strategy on which we’ve been working.

While a small group of students meets with the teacher, the rest of the class is likely reading independently at their desks or somewhere else in the classroom. Since the beginning of the school year, third grade students have learned what “read to self” looks and sounds like. We have discussed how to pick books that are at our “just right” reading level. -- Think of the repeating concept throughout the story “Goldilocks and the Three Bears:” Not too soft. Not too hard. Just right! Students also are learning to make wise choices in the types of books, or genre, that they want to read during class as well as at home.

And students have built up reading stamina. That is, they are using the skills that good readers do of focusing on the book and sticking with it, ignoring distractions, and settling in to a good book.

Then of course, probably the most important homework that the third grade teachers assign is reading for 20 or more minutes each afternoon/evening. At least five days a week. Most of the time there will be a brief written response assignment that goes along with the weekly reading log.

Really, reading is all about understanding, thinking about, and enjoying the text. My goal is that every child in my class, if he or she doesn’t already, will love to read by the end of this school year.

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