Reading in Cafe 1123

"Read in order to live."
-Gustave Flaubert, French novelist

Getting To Know You...As A Reader
At the start of school it's important to get to know you as a person, but also as a reader. What kind of reader are you? What books interest you the most? Do you have a favorite author or illustrator? Is there a certain "type" or genre of book that hooks you every time? Where do you like to read? When do you like to read?

Last year I had my students think about the kind of reader they were and create a speaking avatar at to share this information. They had a blast!! Voki is simple to use (and free!) and a great exercise in spelling and conventions since it reads exactly what the student types - those run on sentences really stick out when the voice reads the text aloud! The kids wrote down what they wanted the avatar to say and then we went to the computer lab to create the avatar (there are a few choices) and type in the text. Most students were able to successfully complete this within 45 minutes to an hour.

Here is the sample avatar I made for myself. Many of the kids wanted to visit the website at home on their own!

Comprehension Strategies

This week in reader's workshop we will be looking at the things good readers do to help stay engaged or focused on the text. We will review several comprehension strategies - making connections, questioning, predicting and visualizing. The goal is to make each strategy as concrete as possible for the kids to help them grasp the concept and begin using it in their own independent reading.

On Monday we will launch into the comprehension strategies with visualizing. We are going to read the lyrics to John Denver's song Grandma's Feather Bed as well as listen to it and then the kids will sketch a picture of the image the song brings to their mind. We want the kids to understand that visualizing isn't simply just drawing a picture. When you visualize, you put yourself into the book - almost as if you become a character in the action. It's not only about what you see, but what you hear, smell, taste, touch, and feel. Use your senses!

When I use music and video in the classroom I try for things the kids haven't seen or heard yet. I think of songs and things from my childhood. Most of the kids these days have never heard the theme from the Brady Bunch! My mother was a huge fan of John Denver and still has many of his albums on vinyl.  Listening to these songs makes me feel like a kid again.

If you haven't ever heard John Denver sing Grandma's Feather Bed, you are in for a real treat! The song is very descriptive and downright fun. The kids have a great time with the song. Here's a clip of John Denver singing the song on the Muppet Show. Enjoy!


  1. John henry reminds me of paul bunyon. both are really big and really strong.-Austin

  2. This is such a great idea! What other songs have you used?