Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Slice of Life - My Reading Heart is Smiling

It was not a typical first week of school.

I started out the week with 36 students and by this time next week we will have hired a part-time teacher.  Thirteen of my students will be going to the new teacher in the morning for reading and writing instruction and will return to my classroom for math and science in the afternoon.

I always start my year creating our community of readers and writers, but this was very difficult because we were not sure what was going to happen.  I decided to teach just a few of my beginning lessons, but leave most of them for next week when I have my "true" class.  

One of the lessons I taught was "How or Why We Choose Books."  I asked them if they were to go into a library or book store, what would make them pick a book from the shelf.  I made a chart and listed the students' replies.  This list included things like looking at the cover, read the first page, favorite author or series, and recommended by a friend.  

I then had them look at the list and tell me what they noticed.  What was NOT there.  Eventually, they saw that "because it is in my AR level" was not on the list.  I told them about a time when one of my students went to Barnes and Noble and she was so excited because her grandmother was going to buy her some books.  That Monday I asked her what she bought, and she said she didn't get any because she couldn't find her level.   (Totally made up story, but they don't need to know this!)  

This is when I love to see their reaction.  I tell them that I don't want them to choose a book because it is in their AR level.  Instead I want them to choose a book because of the reasons we listed.  I also tell them they do not have to take a test on every book they read.  I want them to read for fun.  This is foreign to them, because AR is really pushed in our corporation...but not by me.

Fast forward to our Meet Your Teacher Night.  I had a parent tell me that her son came home and was so excited about reading this year because "we get to read for fun!"  I know a part of that is really sad, but my reading heart was smiling because he got it!  He is looking forward to reading this year.

The second day of school I was giving a spelling inventory.  I looked over and a student was hiding a book inside her desk and reading in between words.  I tiptoed over to her, leaned down and whispered, "Is it good?"  She thought she was in trouble until I smiled at her and asked to see what she was reading.  She was reading Runaway Twin by Peg Kehret, and I whispered that is was a great book.  I told her I had several more by the same author that I think she would also like.  My reading heart was smiling!  

When I got home last night, I had a text from my sister.  I always get my niece and nephew books for Christmas and their birthdays.  Last Christmas I chose a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle book (something he is interested in!) and a couple of Biscuit books.  He is now in the first grade and her text said that during their reading time before bed, he read the whole book himself!  She said he was so proud of himself and again, my reading heart was smiling!

So no, it was not a typical first week of school, but it still made my heart smile!  I can't wait until next week when I can intertwine my community building lessons with my standards lessons, build those relationships, and get us on the road to reading!

I hope your reading heart is smiling this week too!


  1. What a great week. Splitting up the class will be so hard, but 36 is super high numbers. Best of luck to you and your students.

  2. Don't you love it when you catch students reading! It is often about find the right book to hook them. Have a wonderful year.

  3. I'm happy to read that there is some help, but sad it is only part time. It sounds like you are spreading the joy of reading in your class. Read on!

  4. now my reading heart is smiling too...I was that sweet child hiding her book in the desk many, many years ago...xo

  5. Well, you made my reading heart smile with these stories about your kids. Now, for your class to shake out and settle down. 36 students!

  6. I adore your title this week. I would love to use it for a bulletin board this year. I can see my heart start to get excited as the first day approaches!

  7. I'm glad that I read you post! It not only made me smile, but reaffirmed what I want to do in my classroom of middle schoolers this year regarding reading. Thanks for the inspiration. Also, thanks for taking on a such a large class in an obviously caring way. The kids know that it too many too, but they are all lucky to be yours for as long as you have them.

  8. Wow-like others above, that is a huge class. And it sounds like you had such a nice week with them! Your reading heart must have grown three sizes (just like the Grinch, only you didn't start two sizes too small I'm sure). I like the way you wove those words into the story-good glue that kept it together! Thanks, Leigh Anne.

  9. Love the title of this post. I often tell my students about things that make my teacher heart smile! Today I picked up a gallon of milk & it had Sept. 3 on it! Yikes! I always think of you and your milk jug calendar post when I notice the date.

    1. Watching the milk jugs is so much more fun when you are anticipating something fun happening...like Christmas or summer break! Thanks for thinking of me!

  10. You have such a positive way of looking at unusual situation. I can so relate to the "not in my AR level."

  11. My reading heart is jumping! Love this and thanks for the glimpse into your classroom. Would love to visit!