Your questions are things that I have figured out through trial and error over the years.
First, you asked if I only allow my students to select books from the genre we are currently studying. The answer is no. However, students must always keep at least a few books from that genre in their book box during the unit to use for IDR tasks or for the active engagement part of the mini-lesson. For instance, we are currently studying fiction. Most students already have lots of fiction in their book boxes because it is what they like to read. However, so many of the reading tasks require them to be reading fiction that they must have at least 3 fiction picture books to use for tasks at all times, or they can choose to use a chapter book if they are currently reading a fiction chapter book. If students get done with a reading task using a fiction book and want to read a nonfiction book with the remaining time, I do not discourage that.
During other genre studies like poetry, informational text, etc. the rules are very much the same. What ends up happening most of the time is that students become so interested in the genre we are studying that they choose to read books from that genre without even being required to do so.
Some genre studies like our mystery unit and our author study unit require students to work in book clubs. During these units, students are reading a book from the genre we are studying with other students in the class and meeting often to discuss the common text.
You also asked about the isolated skills that will be on the "test." We incorporate those skills into our morning work and our word study program. This is how a typical morning goes in our classroom.
8:45-9:10- Morning Work
9:10-10:05- Reading Workshop
10:05-10:35- Special (gym, music, etc.)
10:35-11:25- Writing Workshop
11:25-11:55- Word Study
11:55-12:15- Read Aloud
Our morning work focuses on grammar concepts that are then reinforced within our writing workshop. Concepts that you mentioned like homophones would be taught in word study along with long vowel patterns, plurals, endings, prefixes/suffixes, syllable types, etc. I try to connect whatever we are doing in word study or morning work to concepts in reading workshop (during strategy lessons, guided reading, conferring, etc.) and writing workshop (during the mid-workshop teaching point, conferring, etc.) whenever I can.
I hope this post helps answers your questions.
Sign up today for free teaching ideas, lesson plans, online activities, tips for your classroom, and much more.
Choose your grade range:
See a sample >