Slice of Life is a weekly event hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
This Slice is a long time coming, just haven't had the time to put it down in writing. I'm sure many of you are already on summer vacation or wrapping up the last couple of days. This post is a bit late for most of you, but if you're like me, you're already collecting ideas for the future! If anything else, hope this sparks an idea!
A couple of months ago, the idea of "the end of the school year" starting trickling into our minds. We always know it's coming, but it seems like it's a long way off. Conversations started happening in our Voxer group about how we could have students reflect upon their reading this past year. Our group is a wonderful collaboration of classroom teachers, literacy specialists/coaches, and teacher librarians. Everyone found a way to have students reflect a bit on their reading lives and make summer reading plans. Each student created their own reflection, no where did they copy down information the teacher gave them. Conversations happened. Sharing occurred. Plans were made.
This past year I have worked very hard with a group of 4th grade reading intervention students to help them understand their own reading identity. Instead of using a scripted and dry reading intervention, I placed a variety of great books at their disposal - books for them to choose, instead of me telling them what to read. They read, a lot, and discovered what they liked and what they didn't. I had high hopes for all of them. Some students, learned how to fall into a book. Laughing out loud at funny parts, and sharing those parts with peers. Others fell gently into books, taking time to find what felt comfortable. Others experimented, and still need more time.
It was such a year of exploration for them, I wanted the students to reflect. But I wanted to allow for creativity and expression. So instead of giving them a preprinted worksheet, I gave them time and a blank sheet.
Day One - Reflection
I gave them a blank sheet of paper and flair markers (everything is more fun with a marker, right?). I asked them to think about how many books they thought they read this year. Then they went back and counted. They were shocked and amazed at how many they had read. The look of pride on their faces was awesome! They wrote that number in big, proud colors in the middle of their page, but then I wanted them to add some more information. I asked them to go back and look at the genres and formats they had read and what did that tell them about who they were as a reader. Many said they liked reading graphic novels the best, but couldn't tell me the genre. That is something I want to work on next year - giving students a clear understanding of genre and how they can read that genre in different formats. Next, students reflected on what they learned about themselves as readers this year. Finally, they rated their top 3-5 books and shared with each other.
Day Two - parent letter
Each student wrote a letter to their parent about reading habits. Sure, I could send a letter home about how important it is to read everyday, giving facts and statistics, but I know where that would end up :( But a letter that is handwritten from their child? Much more likely to be read! The students told their parents where they read best - in bed, in the kitchen, in the car, when they have to wait somewhere... Many of them wrote they needed to be in a quiet place and need their parents help keeping a sibling away during that time. Next, they wrote about how much they need to read each day. I don't like putting a specific amount of time down as required reading. I don't set a timer each day when I sit and read. The kids were honest when they reflected what was an appropriate amount of pages or chapters to read each day. Many of the kids will be traveling on summer break and they wrote how they could get their reading in while on vacation. Finally, they told parents where they could go to get books over the summer. All year long, most of their reading material came from my classroom. They love getting their hands on the new books. Many were concerned they wouldn't find new books. My assistant, who lives in the town I work in, was able to tell the students where they could find the new books at the library, and that information got added to the letter! I also gave them my goodreads info, if they wanted to follow me there.
Day Three - Challenge Day!
I wanted the students to challenge themselves a bit and stretch their wings. We talked about how important it was to read at least 6 books over the summer so they could keep the growth and skills from this year over the vacation. We talked about the Bluestem Challenge. The Bluestem List is the Illinois State Choice for students in grades 3-5. I gave the students bookmarks that listed all the books and they highlighted some that looked good to read over the summer. We talked about Bookaday. What an ambitious goal that is for some students, but some were ready to take it on. We talked about the Newbery List and I gave them the list of Newbery winners and Honor winners since the year they were born. Some students will read books from this list. We also talked about challenging each other. I told them how I challenged my Voxer group to reread a book in June. What challenges could they give each other?
Day Four - padlet page
I created a summer reading padlet page for students to add what they had been reading over summer. We had been adding our weekly reading on a Monday page, so this would be an extension of that page. Students can add their summer reading to the page all summer long.
Day Five - TBR list
I created a slide show and book talked some books that had recently been released that I had not had a chance to share with them. I included picture books, informational texts, middle grade and graphic novels. I also book talked books that were going to be released over the summer. Our school had this day organized so there were other opportunities to talk about books. Students saw book trailers and could add those books to their list. They also had the chance to book talk a book they had read with a peer. They went home with very full lists that should last them awhile!
I love how they are going home with something they created that was about themselves. It is very powerful for students to know who they are as readers and be able to communicate that. I was proud of their work and have high hopes for great summertime reading!
This was the way I had students reflect. My Voxer group shared ideas with each other and everyone took it to their own level. If you're thinking of ways to adapt this up or down grade levels, or how you could make it work when you see multiple grade levels, you may want to check in with:
Carrie Davies (@readwithdavies)
Jason Lewis (@jasontes5th)
Kristen Picone (@kpteach5)
Lesley Burnap (@auntierez)