Find a varied set of books that might be good choices for your students. Books should represent the full range of reading levels in your class, and a range of topics, writing styles, and genres.
Teacher briefly reviews the activity, telling students that their goal is to examine a set of books, and to see how they react to each of them.
Tell students that they should think about which books look interesting to them, and also which books seem like they are at a good reading level.
Teacher leads class in a discussion about what parts of a book a person can look at to get a lot of information quickly. Teacher models scanning a book.
You can model looking at the title and the author’s name, reading the back cover or the inside of the book jacket, reading the chapter names, reading the first page and a random middle page, looking through pictures and charts, and reading the author biography.
Students set up three-column notes on a piece of notepaper. Teacher gives each student a book.
Tell students that they will write the title of the book in the first column, their reactions to the book in the middle column, and a “grade” (smiley face or letter grade) in the last column.
Teacher times students for five minutes. Students look at book and record title, reactions, and “grade” in notes.
The grade should be students’ assessment of how much they want to read the book. They can do smiley/neutral/frowny face, thumbs up/middle/down, letter grade (A-F), or a 1-3 or 1-5 ranking.
You can teach students the “five-finger rule” to determine an appropriate reading level: they should read the first page of the book and put up one finger each time they get to a word they can’t read with total confidence. If they get above five words, then the book is likely too hard.
After five minutes students draw a horizontal line under their first book’s notes, and pass the book to the right. Teacher initiates timing of second book, and students fill out next row of notes as above. Repeat for each book.
Spend some time sitting with each student as they are working, asking them about what they are noticing and why they are assessing the books as they are.
When students are done, ask them to highlight the books in which they are most interested.
If you have time, you can also lead the students in a discussion about how they choose books, what they learned about their interests, and how they determine difficulty.
Students reflect on their learning alone or individually, orally or in writing.
Students should respond to questions including:
- How did you select books that might be interesting to you?
- How did you select books that might be a good reading level for you?
- What did this activity tell you about yourself as a reader?
- What did this activity tell you about yourself as a learner?