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Building Lifelong Readers

Building Lifelong Readers

Mrs. Henson's students show off their character puppet projects from their indepdndent novel study. 

21 Feb, 2024

“I love reading!” If you spend some time in Paige Henson’s classroom, you can feel this sentiment and see the passion behind it in action. As our St. Dominic third grade teacher, Mrs. Henson has a big goal-to build reading skills and to build readers.

An avid reader herself, Mrs. Henson has a two-fold approach to reading in her classroom: assigned novels they read together as a class and independent novel projects. The boys begin each fall with a review of their summer reading, then throughout the year they read eight assigned novels-with favorites being Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and the recent selection The One & Only Ivan.

“These assigned novels give us opportunity for great class discussion. I love it when one of my students shares an insight-and you can really see it click with his classmates. When they start laughing out loud during reading time, I know they’re getting it,” shared Mrs. Henson.

In addition to the assigned novels, the 3rd graders do seven independent novel studies throughout year. Each novel is chosen from a different genre, with a different type of hands-on project due at the end of each study. Independent study projects include character puppets, dioramas, bookmarks, alternate book covers, and a biography lapbook. The last month is always a free-choice project.

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Mrs. Henson explained, “The independent studies are important in so many ways. Personal choice gives the boys an opportunity to explore the different genres to find out what kind of books they really like. With our guidance, based on MAP scores and classroom oral evaluations, they are able to choose a book that is “just right” for their reading level. This builds confidence in their reading. The various projects boost creativity and artistic expression.”

In collaboration with other educators-Cathy Bennett (Learning Specialist) and Rachel Young (Primary Librarian)-Mrs. Henson works hard to ensure that each student has an appropriate book for his current level. That level is re-evaluated after each set of MAP tests, and changes throughout the year. Each novel chosen is an Accelerated Reader (AR) book, and by utilizing the AR tests Mrs. Henson can check-in to see if the boys are comprehending what they have chosen.

Mrs. Henson concluded, “If you begin at the right starting point, everyone can grow. They have so much pride when they get to move to another area of the library or choose a different level of book. My ultimate goal is to get them reading for pleasure, to create lifelong readers. That is what I want for them in the future.”

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