One of my favorite professional teacher books is Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller. She has changed the way I view teaching comprehension with first graders. When I first moved to first grade a few years ago, I kept thinking they were so little and we needed to stick with the basics and simple comprehension questions. Boy, was I wrong! My first grade team along with our fantastic literacy coach read Reading with Meaning as a book study and I loved it. Debbie Miller does a great job showing how to teach deeper thinking skills (that are in the new Common Core standards) like schema, mental images, questioning, making inferences, etc. I fell in love with this book and am glad it will tie in with the Reading Common Core standards that we’ll be fully following in August.
One of my favorite lessons is a questioning lesson using the book, An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant. This wonderfully written book is about a man who lives in a hotel for men and feels very lonely after leaving his town in Indiana. He eventually ends up at this restaurant that reminds him of home. On the first day, the kids listen to the story and write one burning question they have about the story on a post-it note. The next day, I take the similar questions and put those kids into a group. We read the story again with the kids focusing on coming up with answers to their burning question. After reading, the kids get into their groups, discuss their question, and come up with possible answers to their questions. I did this lesson the last 2 years and both times it went better than I could have imagined. I love how independent they are at this point in first grade and how Debbie Miller’s prior lessons have set them up to not only read, but think while they’re reading. As I was walking around the room, listening to their discussions and checking in on groups, I was so proud of the in-depth, fantastic answers they were coming up with! Check out my student’s charts below….