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Choosing a Book
Bring in a pile of books. Make sure you have multiple copies. Explain to the students that they are going to pair up to read a book. Begin by talking about each book. Read the back cover and read the first page. Once you have talked about all the books, have the partners come up to look over the selections. Let them choose which book they will read together.
Set up a series of introductory questions to begin the book. Each partner has his/her own sheet, but together they answer the questions. This is to stimulate interest, but it's also to give them a chance to acquire background about the book. Provide questions about the author, the setting, opening pages, and questions to answer after reading the first few pages.
Allow time for silent reading. You should be reading, too. Modeling is the best way to show students the importance of books. It doesn't matter that they are high school students. All students need to see adults reading.
At the end of the reading time, have them record the page they ended on and journal about the book.
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Each partner should journal for a few minutes and then ask a question for his/her partner. They exchange the journals, so the partner can answer the question. The partner journal can be as simple as ten pages of lined paper stapled in the left corner, then folded lengthwise. On the outside, the partners title the book and list their names. When they open the folded paper, the owner of the journal writes on the left side, and the partner responds on the right side. Because the paper is folded lengthwise, it fits nicely into the book as a marker or into a folder where the book, if it's a paperback, can be on one side and the paper on the other side.
Teachers can respond to the journals as well. Now the students have an ongoing conversation about their book. When they finish the book, they can do a project together or a presentation.
Some issues may surface. What do you do about the student who reads faster than his/her partner does? Try to pair students who are close in reading ability. If that is not possible, have the faster reader read to the slower reader to help him/her catch up. This situation is actually good because it's an example of real life. Students need to learn how to work with others and understand that it's not always easy.
Can you imagine being fifteen and reading at the third grade level? Many special education children are challenged readers because of learning disabilities or mental handicaps. You can help them find a love of reading by discovering their interests, knowing their reading level, and guiding them.