South Orangetown Central School District

“We really got to know our students at the start of the school year. Based on their interests and their Fountas and Pinnell reading levels, we were able to place them into series book club groups within our classroom,” noted Special Education teacher Melanie Nunes, who co-teaches a fifth grade class with teacher Bill McAuliffe at Cottage Lane Elementary School. 

Each book club group has chosen a book to read from a selection pulled by Nunes and McAuliffe matched to their interests and reading level. Across all groups, students are working on discussing their characters and supporting their thinking with text evidence. They are learning how to get to know their character as readers and to discern between character traits and feelings. The goal is for students to realize that their characters are complicated, and not just one way. Differentiated tools enable them to accomplish the same type of work through different pathways and the activity choice board leverages student choice and engagement to encourage higher-level thinking. Nunes also works with small groups during Instructional Support period to strengthen comprehension skills to allow students greater ability to participate in the book club discussions. 

“We’ll be looking at growth by comparing their work to what they had written in their ‘jots’ at the beginning of the benchmarking period. We’re looking to see differences like more details, text evidence from different parts of the text, and student thinking. Jots that may have been a single word initially will expand and become more descriptive. To support this, we take time to plan strategy groups, confer with our book club groups  and individual students to push their thinking,” Nunes added.