Yes! By allowing my students to choose their own books has made an incredible difference in my classroom. I see kids wanting to read versus being forced to read a particular book. They do know there will be times for required reading but they are more open to that now since they have more freedom to choose what inspires them.
Because of Daily 5, I was already letting my students choose their own books; however, when we are working on a skill like BME, or sequencing, or Main Idea, etc, I choose the book and read it whole group. Then student have to respond to the book to work on the certain skill. Reading "The Book Whisperer" has made me think maybe I should be letting students choose their own book to work on that skill. I don't know what that would look like in a first grade setting, but it's something to think about! I also thought it was interesting how she did the surveys and then guided students to choose books they would enjoy. I'd be interested to figure out a way to make that work in my classroom. It might be a survey I could send home and have parents assist with.
I like the idea of letting the kids choose their own books for working on skills, but I'm not sure what that would look like in 1st grade either. The "Guide on the Side" from Reading Street for upper grades had ideas about this, but I don't know if 1st grade has this resource and if it would help guide you in teaching these lessons through student selected text. I wonder if you could do something more like Literature Circles, where they are getting some choice, but it's still limited so that you can guide the lessons for each group? I like the survey idea as well!
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