Literacy Love Letters

My third year out of the classroom, and the experience has been bittersweet.  The joys and highs I feel supporting teachers, advocating for their needs in order to better serve students, and simply listening to their experiences is irreplaceable.  The bitterness comes from yearning to talk, laugh, and learn with students each day.

When I pull up to a school site and observe the kids socializing in their clusters, playing tag, yelling at each other…it tugs at my heart.  As a result, I have now become the teacher you hate.  You know the one.  The one that walks through the office and notices the student “in trouble” or the child “benched” at recess, and I whisper to them, “It’s going to be ok.”  Or I sneak a genuine smile and wink to let them know that they are loved.  See, you’re reading this and rolling your eyes.  Because for all I know, that kid could have just stabbed another kid with a pencil—for the 11th time.  I know, I get it.  But I miss them.  I miss hearing their voices, both on paper and dancing through the air of classrooms and hallways.

The 40 Book Challenge created by the amazing Donalyn Miller a.k.a. The Book Whisperer changed my life.  (Please refer to this post for more details.)  She validated my core beliefs and set me free to travel back down the road of treating students as authentic readers, forever readers.  Each week we wrote letters back and forth, not simply about the stories they were reading, but their thoughts and questions about life.  Sharing our reading lives through letter writing is my favorite memory of classroom teaching.  It was, undoubtedly, the most transformative thing I have ever done.

Many of you are emailing asking for the pages sized for a Reader’s Notebook.  (Click on the link at the bottom of this post.)

Please help yourself to tweak as needed and share with photos and stories how you are making it your own.  I beg you to share.

This instructional coach now lives vicariously through you.

St. sample of reader's notebook
An example of simple annotations made by the tchr. You don’t have to write a novel to each st every week! That would be impossible. Especially with more than one period.
Weekly letter for 40 Bk Challenge
St. sample–simple notes by me again. “Not sure. Let’s explore that.” Short, sweet, and to the point. Sometimes I simply wrote “See me” if my question was too long to write.
Readers Notebooks on Parade!
On display for Open House! Students were so proud of all their hard work. Tchr beaming!

40 Bk Challenge Cover

Open House- Bragging about our 40Bk challenge
At the end of the year, we tally all the books we read as a whole. It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment! Sts are so proud! We sort of make the “reveal” of the total number an event in our class. All our celebrated for their contribution.
St. sample of tch response in reader's notebook
I annotate the letters to show I read them and model how that is diff for everyone. I also write a short response to kids each week. Sometimes they are a couple of words or a question, sometimes it’s a longer response.
St. Sample of Rd Ntbook
Some sts preferred to type their letter (or were asked to due to illegible handwriting). No problem here! Note the tchr-st exchange on the left side. IT was awesome! Sts. loved communicating to me through a letter each week.

Click on the link below for the download.

40 Book Challenge


Published by Cortez Corner

Literacy instructional coach turned site administrator. Misser of the classroom. Reader. Wannabe writer. Barely blogger. Podcaster. Dormant Poet...I just know it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: