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    Reading help for fourth grade
    By Liz

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    I taught fourth grade for 14 years, and am now teaching reading to third-fifth grade students in need of intervention. I always enjoyed teaching reading to fourth graders using novels. I suggest Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary. It is a perfect format for a response journal by the students as it is written as letters to an author by the main character, Leigh Botts. One finds out a lot about the students by reading and responding to these journals. I would usually give students prompts regarding what they should write to the main character, Leigh. These dealt with his many problems: moving to a new school, parents divorce, loss of a pet, etc. Believe it or not, the students provided much insight in their responses. As the teacher, I also found language arts "mini lesson" ideas from their writing.

    Having the students discuss the novel in a think-pair-share-(square) format provided a social outlet for their thought, as well. In case you are unfamiliar with the 'square' portion of Think-Pair-Share, it involves two pairs of students sharing their thoughts after the pairs have shared.

    This novel will get you started this year. Teaching four sections of reading will make responding to the students journals a daunting task for you. Try to do only a few at a time....make the responses meaningful. I would suggest about six opportunities to respond to the novel by the students.

    Other books that I would recommend would include:

    Mr. Popper's Penguins
    Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman
    Blackberries in the Dark by Mavis Jukes
    Stone Fox
    There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom
    Soup by Robert Newton Peck

    Your selections will be made based on your students reading ability. Perhaps you could give a few "book talks" and allow students to choose books based on their interest. Of course, you could have the last say in developing groups to work on novels by creating groups from their first, second, and third choices. I would also recommend that you get information about Literature Circles. This would allow the students to read within their circles...freeing you up to monitor and interject as needed. Literature Circles require work on your part in getting them going, but you and the students will enjoy the process as the year progresses.

    Good Luck! I envy you getting to teach reading all day. I do, and I'm enjoying it immensely!

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