You have a brought up a very interesting topic. At this point of the year, I do struggle with making sure all of my students are reading "just right" books.
I find that if students don't have their just right books, it can certainly interfere with how I planned my day. The other day I sat down for a strategy group lesson in my reading workshop and the students I was working with were good at naming character traits but I wanted to teach them that when you decide on a trait, we're not done and we need to keep reading to see if our character changes. As I listened to one student read, she stumbled on so many words that I knew right away this book was too difficult. When she finally came over with a just right book, this wasn't something I could teach to her in the beginning of a book. It was frustrating to me because she couldn't benefit from the strategy group as the other students did and I need to now pull her at another time when I could have been moving on to other students.
In my class, I have the students fill out an index card if they want to abandon a book. I have found it helpful because I can see when they are abandoning for reasons such as the text being too difficult. In some cases, it can prioritize the kids who I know I need to get to for a conference. If a student has filled out 3 abandoned book cards because its too hard that tells me something isn't right and I need to conference with the student immediately to see whats going on.
I don't think there is one answer on how to make sure our students are picking just right books. For me, I just hope that I can catch it right away if they are not reading books that are just right for them.
Thanks for your reflections. I know it will get better- and it has since this post... a little. The vast majority of my students did not have a workshop model in their classroom in past years, so it is new to them. - Victoria
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