If you've been following along here at The Caffeinated Classroom for a minute, you know that I am a sucker for a good theme. Theme parties, theme restaurants, theme Halloween costumes... You get the drift...
My absolute dream come true is when I can marry my love for themes with a classroom routine, making this teacher's life easier and fun all at the same time!
**CUE - First Chapter Fridays!**
WHAT IT IS...
If the idea of First Chapter Fridays is a new one to you, I'll briefly explain - essentially, it is what it sounds like. Each Friday, you read the first chapter of a different book as a little glimpse into the story. I originally heard about this on Instagram from Lauralee Moss (@elaclassroom) when she linked to her blog. Check out her post all about how she used First Chapter Fridays with her secondary students. (And while you're there, click around a bit - she is a wealth of knowledge and ideas!)
WHAT I WANTED IT TO DO...
When I decided to start First Chapter Fridays in my classroom I saw a lot of potential for extended learning and practice through this activity.
Here were my goals:
expose students to books they might never see or notice otherwise
practice student listening and auditory processing skills
quickly practice literary analysis & discussion
HOW I SET IT UP...
The first thing to do when setting this up was to choose all of the books I wanted to feature ahead of time. This need to get things done super early is one of my quirks, but I know that the potential for me to let this slide and forget to choose a book for a week here and there was great, so I picked them all before we started and have them on display in my classroom. Bonus - my students like seeing which titles they'll be previewing in the coming weeks!
Since I have been pretty behind the times since having my own kids, I put out a poll on my Instagram story and got TONS of recommendations for newer YA novels, then I went shopping for books in my school library! My school librarian is AMAZING and helped me find books that she saw kids enjoying.
Next, I went about creating a half sheet my students would pick up on their way in the classroom each Friday with that week's title & author, a passage from the first chapter, and an abstract coloring image. I have a few students who needed community service hours and had them pick passages that stood out to them, then type them up for me. To find the coloring portion of the sheet, I did a good old-fashioned Google image search for some royalty-free abstract coloring images.
Here's what they look like:
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN MY CLASSROOM...
As students enter my classroom on Fridays, they pick up the half sheet of the week and head to their seats to get their colored pencils ready. When class starts I give a brief intro to the book of the week - title, author, read the blurb on the cover, talk through the cover image a bit.
Next, we pre-read the passage on their half sheet as a class and the week's analysis prompt. This is gives them a purpose for listening so that they can put the passage into context and address the prompt.
Next, I begin the audiobook over the loud speaker (I forgot to mention above that I don't read the chapter myself - I find them all on Sora and it saves my voice!) While they listen, students doodle and color on their sheet.
When the chapter is over, students have a few moments to annotate the passage on their sheet in order to address the prompt on the board (which normally has to do with figurative language, tone, etc.).
Finally, small groups briefly discuss what they heard and their answer to the prompt, we do a quick class share-out, and then we move on! All in all, this takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on the length of the chapter and the depth of discussion.
OUR BOOK LIST THIS QUARTER...
We Were Liars - E. Lockhart
Children of Blood and Bone - Tomi Adeyemi
Paper Towns - John Green
The Sun is Also a Star - Nicola Yoon
Gem & Dixie - Sara Zarr
The Girl From Everywhere - Heidi Heilig
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
All American Boys - Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
The Serpent King - Jeff Zentner
I have included all of the half sheets I created for this book list in my RESOURCE LIBRARY for free! All you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter and you'll have the password to access the entire library of resources!
Have you tried First Chapter Fridays or something similar in your classroom? Please share your insight in the comments below!!!