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Monday, May 27, 2013

The Power of Choice

Many of you may already be on summer break, and if not, hopefully you are getting close! While we enjoy the time to rest and rejuvenate over the summer, many of us worry about our students and the well-known "summer slide."

We often worry whether our students will continue developing academically over the summer. We know that often times our students actually regress. Many of our students do not continue their learning over the summer due to a lack of resources. Richard Allington recently conducted a study on the power of using self-selected summer reading books to combat the "summer slide." His research is fascinating, and if you have not read about it, you can find out more here. He believes that students are much more involved in reading, and  as a result benefit more, when they are able to choose their books.

Allington actually found that providing students with self-selected books for the summer was equally, if not more, effective than costly summer school programs! This article really got me thinking. I need to incorporate more choice in my reading groups. As a result, I took my fourth grade intervention group to the teacher resource room. You should have seen the look on their faces! You would have thought they had won the lottery. Their little faces lit up when they saw the stacks of tubs filled with books.

I wasn't overly surprised when most of my students picked Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Who doesn't love that story?! Another one of my students really loves history. As a result, I directed him towards the Social Studies section. He is particularly interested in the Civil War. 

After a great deal of searching, he finally settled on Abe Lincoln's Hat. When students finished reading their self-selected books, I had them complete a graphic organizer identifying the story elements. Next, students wrote a summary of their book.

My students really put a lot of thought and effort into their graphic organizers and summaries. I was very impressed and extremely proud of them. I think choosing their own books helped motivated them.

If you would like your own copies of the graphic organizers, click here or on the images above. There is a version for fiction and nonfiction. How do you incorporate choice into your reading program?


  1. My students love to choose books from the classroom library- we use the Daily 5 strategy of IPICK. I did a whole lesson about "trying on" and there's a picture in my room of my feet surrounded by different sized shoes to remind them to choose the right one.

    Everyone deServes to Learn

  2. How true, how true! I was trying to figure out what to do for my summer reading program, and I think this will be wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Reading Toward the Stars

  3. Great organizer! Thank you for sharing. I'm so lucky I stumbled upon your blog. I'm your newest follower. :)

    The Teaching Thief

  4. Thank you very much for the story map!


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