As you have seen in past blogs, the Four Blocks Literacy Program consists of four blocks that work together to make a program compatible for everyone and every type of learner. In a previous blog, I described the Guided Reading block. In this article, I will discuss what a Self-Selected Reading block should contain.
The goals of Self-Selected Reading are for the teacher to share different types of literature, to elevate student interests in reading, to allow for instructional-level literature, and to encourage intrinsic motivation. The Self-Selected Reading Block has four steps.
First, the teacher shares a read aloud book. The books can come from a wide range of materials. In the past, most read aloud books were fiction stories. Recently, many nonfiction stories have been published and are increasingly making their way into the classrooms. Reading aloud to children is the key to motivating children to read. Read aloud books develop interests and increase background knowledge for students. Listening and critical thinking skills are increased as children are read books.
Next, the children choose a book to read on their own. This book should be on their reading level. Each child in the classroom may be on a different level book. The teacher should provide materials on all students’ reading levels. In some classrooms children may sit at their desk and read from baskets of books placed at the students’ tables. In other classrooms, students may be reading at centers. The centers may include big books, magazines, class made books, nonfiction books, and books on tape. Students rotate centers throughout the week.
Third, the teacher will conference with the students about what they are reading. This time of conference is the only one on one time that the teacher has with the child. Some teachers prefer to go from table to table to read with students while other teachers prefer to sit at one location and call students to come and talk with them. During this time the teacher should be using positive comments about the students’ reading, directing weak readers toward appropriate level books and steering proficient readers toward challenging books.
Finally, children are given the opportunity to share their readings with the class. Teachers can be very creative with this section of Self-selected Reading. Some ideas for sharing are allowing students to speak into a microphone, having a special location in the room for sharing, have reading parties, or allow older students to read to younger students.
While Guided Reading is a more teacher directed lesson with teacher chosen material with the entire group on the same level, Self-Selected Reading is student directed with student chosen material on individual levels. Therefore using both has allowed balance for all readers.
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