Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reviving Four Blocks: Self-Selected Reading

A few days ago I posted some thoughts about changing my reading block to look more like it did when I taught the Four Blocks way. (Reviving Four Blocks). I was surprised and excited about the comments I received about how several other people are interested in this approach, so I decided to do a series dedicated to each of the blocks. I decided to tackle the Self-Selected Reading block first because it's my favorite!

What is it?
This block is all about students reading texts that they have selected themselves and are on their level. Similar to Read to Self (Daily 5), students choose their books and read to themselves while you confer with individuals. It is easy to make this block multi-level because each student can be reading on his or her own level. It lasts about 30 minutes, or maybe a little longer if you have the time.

Structure of the block:
  • Read aloud: Beginning with the read aloud is perfect for me for several reasons: 1). It ensures that I won't skip the read aloud! 2). I can model reading strategies during the read aloud that I want the kiddos to use while reading independently. 3). It activates reading strategies that students will use when reading independently. After the read aloud, I send them off to read to themselves, usually with some instructions, like "Be ready to share the connections you made when we come back together." or "Mark any unfamiliar words that you find so we can discuss them." This can really be anything that you're currently working on, or even a strategy that came up during the read aloud.
  • Conferences: I love conferencing with my students because I've found that they're much more open when its just you and them. It's a great way to build relationships while getting to know students as readers. I try to meet with each child once a week, but with larger class sizes, it may take two weeks to get to everyone. Here's the form I made that I plan to use for conferences next year.
  • Sharing: At the end of the block, students come back together as a group to share what they've read, strategies they've used, or information they've learned. This is a great time for students to present book reviews or you to do a book blessing as well. You could do the sharing part every day, or set aside some time two or three times per week. If you're short on time, and you're lucky enough to have student response clickers, you could even have students text in something to share. 
Why I love it:
When all of my students are doing self-selected reading at the same time, the atmosphere in the room is calm and peaceful. There are very few distractions, and it is harder for students to "pretend" read. The structure provides me with a schedule to include the parts of instruction that I'd love to do every day but sometimes skip otherwise. I also love that students have a choice about what to read. 

So, how about you? How does your Self-Selected Reading/ Read to Self/ DEAR time look?


  1. Love your ideas for 4th grade! I am your newest follower. Hope you will stop by my blog at

  2. DEAR time is my favorite time of the day! My students are reading independently throughout the classroom in cozy spots and I'm conferencing with students about their reading.

    I'm your newest follower!

    Teaching Maddeness
    PS - I would love for you to join my linky party and 300 follower giveaway!

  3. Four Blocks was the big thing when I first started teaching. I am hoping to incorporate some DEAR time this year. With 7 classes at 40 min each... not sure how I will do that. Any ideas?

    Every New Beginning

  4. thanks, Farrah. I love your Blog. I am combining all the parts I love about Daily 5; Guided Reading and Four Blocks, as my project for the summer. Hope it all comes together. I also wanted to thank you for the steps for doing forms in GoogleDocs. I had forgotten how easy it was.
    Have a great summer!



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