Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trusting Readers and the Journey

As an educator I believe my biggest responsibility is to nurture readers. I work to design an environment where books are celebrated, thinking about books is par for the course and writing and talking about books is just part of what we do.  It starts on day one, we are readers. We choose our books, we think about our books, we know authors, we share books and we read just because it's what we do.

Books in our Lives~
2 readers, 2 classrooms
1 conversation

In this effort to cultivate readers books surround our classroom. Talk from and about books drives our community.  Books aren't just for learning they help us make friends, solve problems, connect with the world.
Readers in our community routinely share books in the classroom on Shelfari through various digital media.  We work collaboratively with readers in our space and readers from other classrooms.  Our day begins by self-selecting a book from our classroom to take home and read.  Reading and books are omnipresent in our community.

Threat of Reading Drought~
So why was it I was starting to see kids leaving book choices behind at the end of the day or hearing "Mrs. Frazier, I didn't have time to read last night."  I know spring sports are underway and families are busy and outside, but as readers we know about reading in edge times, we know and value our reading.  Our families understand and value the importance of reading at home. As I watched these trends grow I continued to ponder the reasons and how I was going to teach through the threat of a reading drought.  I knew it was something I needed to handle carefully.

I know how important attention and feedback can be in a child's day.  I see kids respond to feedback directed to a friend sitting near them. I also know my interest and excitement is contagious. I know how much these readers love talking about the books they're reading at home. They cheer when we share their Shelfari shelves at school and make arrangements to trade books from their shelves.  So rather than our typical procedure of checking in and reselecting books independently each morning I decided to make this another opportunity to talk and share as readers.

Give them what they Crave~
In our morning message I invited the readers to bring their reading from last night and the book they've selected for tonight to the carpet.   As students entered the room they began to questions their friends about the message.  Just the change of the message created a buzz! Already, talk about home reading was beginning to spark.  The bell signaled time to gather on the carpet a few kids paused to to see if their fellow readers were bringing their books, a few revisited the message to check, a few asked, "Do we bring our books?" I nodded, nothing more.  Once everyone was seated and ready to begin I asked our teacher's assistance (T.A.) to begin our day by starting our morning greeting. So far, nothing new, a typical morning meeting, the suspense was building as readers glanced at the books of their peers.  After the greeting I asked one student to share his reading from last night by saying,  

"You know how you hear something or you do something and then when you leave you forget a lot of things about it?"  
Heads nodded and few commented  
"That always happens to me." I continued
          "Well, somethings do fade away, but there's always something that sticks in your head."  
As I say this I see curious faces and a couple of nodding heads. I invite one of the nodding heads,  
"What stuck in your head from your reading last night?" 
I asked only a couple of readers the first day, the answers were as I expected 
"I liked when…."  
"I didn't really get the chance to read."   
That was day one~

Day 2, 3 & 4
Same message, same question and these were the responses~

"I think the next book in this series will…."  This reader has a plan! 
"My mom bought me 2 new books at Target last night!"  She's buying books! 
"I read in the car when we had to pick up my mom at the airport" Edgetime!  
"My dad let me sit with him in his recliner, I am not usually allowed to do that."  Reading on the lap of his daddy! 
"I didn't really get to read last night. Can you ask me tomorrow?" Tomorrow will be better

The Result~
It's not really about me at all, but this taught me more than reading survey or check in system!  I know my kids are real readers, reading in edge times, with parents, in the car and shopping for books, these are the behaviors of real readers, not school readers.  As I listened to these responses and many more I began to relax in the authenticity of their answers.  They weren’t sharing like academic readers. There wasn’t any strategy talk, or sharing of a drawing or digital creation. It was just the authentic voices of young readers embarking on a glorious journey!
I proud to walk beside them!


JeNyia Rocker said...

Hi Ms. Deb! My name is JeNyia Rocker and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. Reading your post really inspired me because when I was in the first grade, I didn't like to read at all. I guess it's because I didn't have a teacher that really motivated me to read. Seeing you motivate your children, pushing them to read, it gets me excited and I know it gets them enthused in what they read. I look forward to reading more of your post. Have a great school year!

Anonymous said...

I often feel the "drought" with my readers as well. I love the ways you encourage reading and keep kids talking about books!