Have you heard about First Chapter Fridays yet? They’re taking over the (bookish) world! First Chapter Friday is a fun, super-simple way to bring modern voices into your English curriculum each and every week and encourage your students in their independent reading. Plus, they work easily whether you’re remote or in person.
How do First Chapter Fridays work?
The concept is simple. On First Chapter Friday (or Meet a Book Monday, We Read Wednesday, etc.), you pull an engaging book off your shelf and read the first chapter to your students. Then you make it available for them to access online or check out. Watch it fly out of your hands once they’re hooked, and be prepared for them to beg you to make an exception just this once and read chapter two!
Supplement your curriculum
First Chapter Friday is a great time to read books that you’re having trouble fitting into your full class curriculum. Maybe you can’t get funding for a class set of Born a Crime or All American Boys, but you can share it with everyone by getting just one copy and introducing all your students to it in one go on a Friday. Or maybe you’re getting a lot of pushback from administrators who feel you need to stick with canonical book choices, but you know your students are dying for more diverse voices and more YA. First Chapter Friday is an easy way to incorporate new books as they come out every single month. Grab Angie Thomas’s latest, Concrete Rose, or Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap When you Land.
Wondering if your voice will hold up to all that reading?
Make it easier for yourself by batch-recording first chapters on video or audio, then sharing them during each class period. That way you can read the first chapter of one of your favorites one time, then play it for all five of your sections, AND send it to your remote students. Then, you won’t be drinking lemon tea with honey every Friday night! You can set up your phone or camera in a sunny corner of your house and get six first chapters done at once.
For an even bigger shortcut, have famous authors read their first chapters to your students for you! Let John Green read from The Fault in our Stars, Jason Reynolds read from Ghost, or Neil Gaiman read The Graveyard Book.
Keep the fun going by making a special display of your First Chapter Friday books in your classroom, or try putting up a QR code bulletin board that links out to first chapters read by you or by their authors ( make a free copy here ).
Keep your students engaged
You may be wondering how to keep your students focused as they listen. We’ve all dealt with zoned-out-looking audio-listeners and heads down on desks. That’s not the dream. Try inviting your students to sketchnote as they listen instead. A simple guided template (like this one) helps the art-wary as they approach this new task. Invite students to doodle and jot down key ideas related to what they’re hearing, then save their sketchnotes together in one place so you can encourage them to look back over the books they’ve explored with you when it comes time to check out a new book in your independent reading program.
Are you ready for action? Friday’s coming soon, so grab a book you love and hit record!
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