First- and second-graders at Daniel Warren Elementary School are growing as readers and expanding their skills and development in the English language arts thanks to flexible, small-group learning experiences. During I-Block, teachers are offering guided reading for all students across all grade levels.
“It is always my intention in my work with readers in I-Block to help them become aware of themselves as readers and have a better understanding of the kind of work they do as readers and the importance and significance of that work,” said Leigh Ann Kowalchick-Porphy, library media teacher. “I also like to offer a wide range of activities in connection to their reading to help them expand not only as readers, but as writers, thinkers, designers, communicators and innovators.”
Students have been able to reflect on their past work and share their insights, understandings and perceptions as readers. Throughout the instruction, they will further enhance their understanding and work as readers with a variety of book-based projects they design themselves.
One group of first-graders in Kowalchick-Porphy’s class is participating in an in-depth study of Kate DiCamillo’s “Because of Winn Dixie” book. Meanwhile, a group of second-graders is working in two-reader teams to explore the works of Roald Dahl.
As part of their project, the students will be challenged to identify a critical moment from the story and bring that moment to life by creating a diorama, piece of art, play, poem, an illustrated song or a puppet show.
To proceed with their work, the students are tasked with writing a proposal that demonstrates their critical analysis of the story. They also prepare and make a presentation before their peers and complete a written reflection on their project and work as readers.
“At the heart of the work I do with the students in I-Block is centered the question: ‘What does it mean to be a good reader?’” Kowalchick-Porphy said. “As part of this, it is important for students to be aware of themselves as readers, what has interested them as readers, and what literary works and aspects of particular literary works have sparked their imaginations and engaged them as readers.”