I’ve gone back and forth on this and I have come to a final decision. So many teachers are out there trying to figure out the best ways to guide students to a love of reading and a desire for learning. In past posts, I have mentioned books I have read such as The Book Whisperer (again, highly recommended), Beth Newingham (google her), and other research as done by Fountas and Pinnell of reader’s notebooks. Recently went to a training and was recommended Mosaic of Thought, which I have just purchased (will write my thoughts on that at a later time), and met an amazing woman– Carol Jago. She has inspired me to be open and share thing with my fellow educators in hopes that we all can work together and improve our instruction for students. (Just recently purchased her book Rigor for All, as well.) Yikes! I’ve got a lot of reading to do…..
Anyway, this year I began a “40 Book Challenge” in Reader’s Notebooks for my students. Instructions and all are included in this download so I won’t explain any of that. I’d simply like to take time to reflect on my results thus far, and changes I have already made and what I will plan on making for next year.
So far, I am extremely happy with the results. The first month of response letters and weekly schedules were a little rough. I’ve had to stick a couple of reminder lessons of my expectations in my lesson plans. You know how it is teaching kids a new system…and, let’s face it, even myself. I’ve had to refine my instructions. For example, each week I expect ONE FULL PAGE response. Some of my kids are now typing their responses as their handwriting is just too…..how shall I put it….sloppy? That’s it.
I would like to see their responses move from simple retells to basic plot summaries and more opinion and critique-type styles, but we’re working on that. I also had a book talk (included in the download) oral presentation. I wanted a little more substance so I revised another one which will take place in a couple of weeks. I’m excited to compare the results!
Overall, getting rid of AR (which I did last year) and starting this has allowed me to treat my students like real readers!! Which they are!! It’s amazing how much more I’m learning about them through these letters. Yes, it is a major time commitment and at times I question my own program…. Do I need to respond to every kid, every week??? But the answer in my heart is yes, even if it’s just a couple of sentences. The students feel very special receiving that note. They know I care.