While a teacher may not be able to replace a basal curriculum, he or she can usually find a way to enhance the curriculum.
As teachers, we typically have some autonomy, therefore you can make time by consolidating a few lessons (or skipping one or two) and voila! Now you’ve got three, four, or even five days freed up for an author study!
If your school district does NOT mandate a basal curriculum, you should celebrate because your students will fall in love with the authors you spotlight!
Start by choosing amazing authors such as Roald Dahl, Patricia Polacco, or William Steig. Research their books and determine which to include in your study - this will primarily be dictated by the amount of time you have available.
Not sure which authors are right for you? Seek the help of your librarian. I went to the children’s section in my local library and told the librarian a little about my class including the grade level, reading ability, interests, etc. From there, she was able to suggest more books than I could carry, most of which she had already read.
Next, look online for lessons for the books you have chosen. Why reinvent the wheel? Watch YouTube videos, read blogs, and visit TpT (Teachers Pay Teachers) for ideas and inspiration. Look at the resources you have and decide on the focus of your lesson. The primary goal is to introduce your students to fabulous authors, but there are always academic objectives to be met via these author studies and in addition to English Language Arts objectives, perhaps you’ll be able to find a connection to science, social studies or art within your author study.
What Might an Author Study Lesson Look Like?
The five components of reading instruction are phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency. Primary author studies might spend a bit of time on phonics, but intermediate author studies will focus primarily on comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency.
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This is Day One of the author study. After reading, begin constructing an anchor chart on that you will later use to compare and contrast Polacco’s books throughout the study.
Obviously, an author study can provide relevant, engaging, and most of all robust reading instruction. Students can learn inference, cause and effect, prediction, problem/solution, and text structures as they learn to think deeply about an author’s works.
So what are you waiting for? Choose your favorite author and get busy! Can’t decide? Ask your media specialist or public librarian for help as you plan your first author study. Your students will thank you!
If you’re looking for more information about author studies, Reading Rockets has several articles about how to set up an author study and if you’re in the younger grades, Scholastic has a great outline of an author study on Eric Carle.
About My Guest Blogger
- Classroom Teacher
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