Before I get any farther with this post, I need to give credit where it’s due: thanks to Mr. Plemmons at Barrow Elementary for inspiring this lesson! You can read more about his I-PICK activity here.
At our school, teachers use a framework called the Daily Five for literacy instruction in their classrooms. One component of Daily Five is teaching students how to choose good-fit books. A good-fit book is a book that you can read and enjoy independently–and you choose it yourself!
To help students build self-efficacy in choosing good-fit books for themselves, many of our teachers share with students a strategy called I-PICK:
I always do an I-PICK library lesson at the beginning of the school year with 1st and 2nd grades because their curiosity in the library often outpaces their ability to read everything independently. While of course it’s fine with me if students want to challenge themselves, I also think it’s important for them to be able to find books that they can read on their own or with just a little help.
Rather than telling students that certain books are off-limits, we have a conversation about how the library includes books for everyone–including Pre-K kids who can’t read words yet and 5th graders who can read all kinds of really challenging material. So, when we browse the shelves, we usually want select a book that’s a good fit for us (not for someone else)–because we are all different kinds of readers!
Since the K in I-PICK stands for “Know most of the words,” I also teach students the 5-finger rule to help them keep track of how many unfamiliar words they encounter:
This year, after our initial I-PICK lesson, one of my 2nd grade teachers asked if we could do a follow-up activity so that students could get more practice using the strategy in the library.
To prepare for the lesson, I gathered baskets of high-interest books for students to browse at their tables. As I chose, I made sure that most of my 2nd grade readers would find some titles that were too easy, some that were too hard, and many that were just right.
We began the lesson by reviewing I-PICK and the 5-finger rule. Then, I explained that students would be practicing with the baskets of books on their tables (which they couldn’t wait to get their hands on!). For the activity, their job was to select a book from their basket that matched their purpose and interest, read a little and check for comprehension, and use the 5-finger rule to see if they knew most of the words.
Once they chose their interesting book, they recorded their observations on this checklist:
Students went through the process twice with plenty of time to browse their baskets before choosing their books. Then, for each book they selected, they had 4 minutes to read a little bit and record their responses.
Afterwards, we talked about how choosing a good-fit book sometimes takes some time. We might not always want to just grab the first book that catches our attention. Sometimes we need to spend a few minutes with it to really know for sure if it is a good fit for us.
At the end of the lesson, several students chose books from their tables to check out! And I watched many more students using the I-PICK strategy and the 5-finger rule during checkout as they chose their new library books. I hope this practice will help students browse our school library (and any other library!) with confidence.
So far, I’ve only done this activity with 2nd grade, but I’d love to try it with other grade levels, too!
What do you think about when you choose a book? How do you know when a book is a good fit for you? I’d love to see your responses in the comments!