Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Using Leveled Books to Help Students Develop Positive Behavioral Skills, Part 1

This is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. It is the first in a series about using leveled books to teach the importance of good citizenship and classroom behavior.

In Classroom Management that Works, Marzano, Marzano, and Pickering reveal the critical role of managing appropriate behavior in the classroom. The authors share the following research findings:

  • The teacher is the key to effective student achievement.
  • Effective teachers must be effective with students of all achievement levels.
  • All students profit from guidance in proper participation in activities inside and outside the classroom.

 "Helping Children Learn Positive Friendship Skills," an article published by Kids Matter, identifies friendship patterns for the primary grades, skills needed by various age groups, and skills that promote friendship.

Friendship skills include sharing conversations, taking turns, expressing feelings, complimenting others, accepting others, refusing to join others in negative behaviors, sharing, asking what one wants and needs, apologizing to others, following rules, being a good loser, helping others, and cooperating. A teacher can immediately recognize these as the traits of a successful student who helps other students be successful.

These friendship skills must be explicitly taught. Three ways that you can support children's friendship skills are the following:

  • Teach positive social skills.
  • Be a coach (prompt, remind, encourage).
  • Help children solve friendship conflicts.

As a teacher, I found that helping children learn how to work and play together was necessary if I wanted to create an effective classroom environment. Using the book Friends Are Fun for two introductory classroom sessions, you can facilitate a fruitful new year with a new group of students. You will also be teaching curriculum goals, as shared in the state and national language arts standards.

Book One, Session One: FRIENDS ARE FUN

  • Guide a discussion based on what the children feel is the meaning of 'friend.' As the discussion comes to a close, ask the children to complete the following sentence: "A friend is ___." There may be more than one definition. Reread the sentences as a shared reading text.
  • Using an Elmo, display the book Friends are Fun from the My World Collection. Use pages 25 to discuss some ways that friends have fun together. Invite the students to share why the two activities are fun. This discussion requires the children to think about being a part of the activity and share ways they make the activity fun.
  • Provide paper and crayons for each child to draw pictures of an activity they share with a friend. Share the sentence frame "My friend’s name is ___. We ____ together" as a caption. Review the drawings and share them with the children to introduce session two of Friends Are Fun.  
  • Remind the children that today they have talked about how friends have fun playing together. On another day, they will look at how friends play and work together at school. Ask them to be thinking about what they might do to help make school a place where they can have fun working and playing together.

Book One, Session Two: FRIENDS ARE FUN

  • Begin the session by reviewing the class definitions of a friend. You can also share activities and drawings from the previous session. Remind them that the book is titled Friends Are Fun. The author wrote the first half of the book to help them understand the importance of friends, but the second half of her book shares another important reason for being a friend. Share the rest of the book using an Elmo. Examples of questions might include:

Pages 6 and 8:

  • Where are the children? What are they doing? How many children are in the picture? (There are three children seen easily and a fourth in the background.) What does that tell us about how the children have to work together if the activity is to be fun?
  • Where is the teacher? How does this affect the activity? What will happen if one child is not a good friend? Is there a possibility that one of the children is not being included in the activity?
  • What are some words to describe what good friends do in an activity like this? (share, take turns, work quietly, etc.) Write these words on the board and read them with the students as they discuss each.
  • On page 8, only two children are working together. What is necessary when two people work together? Which words on the board are examples of how they can be good friends?

Page 10:

  • Ask if being a good friend on the playground is much like working in the classroom. Why? What are some good things that friends must do if playing is to be fun?
  • Remind the children that you will be watching for examples of what good friends do in the classroom and playground. Tell them to do the same and that you will be asking them for examples of friendship they see. Before the next discussion of friendship, praise the class and individual students that you see as good examples. When the entire class works well, explain how they have helped others in the class and also helped you work with an individual child or a group of students. Say, "All of you found it easier to complete your work today because all of you worked together like good friends. Thanks!"

 This is the end of part one in this series of using leveled books to teach the importance of good citizenship and classroom behavior. Click here to see the next installment. You can subscribe to our blog in the upper right sidebar to get new posts delivered to your inbox.

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Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from our Kaleidoscope Collection. She spent 37 years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children.

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Click the left image below to download an information sheet with key features about the My World Series, which contains the book mentioned in this post. Click the right image below to download an information sheet with key features about the Kaleidoscope Collection, which includes books that Geraldine Haggard has authored.

My World Series Info Sheet                   Kaleidoscope Collection Info Sheet