Monthly Archives: April 2015

Read Around the World

I love love LOVE to read. And encouraging my students to read is one of my favorite things to do. Getting new books for my classroom library, passing out Scholastic orders, helping my students choose the perfect book. I wish we could do DEAR time (drop everything and read) for hours a day!d5f9828e0ef135a7f14d078d671abff8

But it is easy to fall into a post-spring break funk, both for my kids interest in reading, and for me encouraging them to read.

So I have major kudos to our Librarian, Stevie, for making reading really exciting for our kids. She has created a two week Read Around the World program for our whole elementary school. (I was personally very excited about this because I’m trying to read 100 books in 2015 and I’m behind! Now my kids can hold me accountable 😉

It all starts with the students tracking how many minutes they read every night on a log sheet: IMG_2766

Then I collect the sheets every day and my wonderful student aide adds up my classes’ minutes for me. We then log it on a bar graph. (Yay for incorporating math into reading!) You’ll notice that I did not make my scale up the left side nearly big enough! If every student in my class read 30 minutes in a night they would have a total of 750 minutes, so I thought 1,000 was a safe estimate. Much to my surprise, the first night my students read 924 minutes and the second night they read 2540 minutes! It’s crazy!


Because it’s Read Around the World, for every 500 minutes we read as a class we travel to a new destination. Here is our path that we will take:

Untitled And for every destination we travel, we get a new stamp in our giant class passport. The kids get so excited every day to see what new stamps we got. IMG_2765IMG_2764IMG_2763While we are competing against other classes for the #1 top minutes read, we are mostly competing against ourselves. Every 3rd-5th grade class that meets the goal of 10,500 minutes  in the two weeks is getting a special read aloud from a surprise guest. (Kinder-2nd grade has a lower minute goal.)
IMG_2767I have taken this as a great opportunity for character development, since we are character school. The first night my class did a really great job, 924 minutes, well over what I expected of them. But that day we happened to be the lowest scoring third grade class. I started the day off with a quote: comparison

Our class did great all on our own, but when we found out what the other classes got, we didn’t feel so good about our score anymore. Comparing ourselves to the other classes stole our excitement about our reading minutes.

My students also encountered students from the other classes that were rightfully excited about their first day scores. So we discussed how we can’t control what other people do and say, we can only control how we react to them. I usually teach this concept with a play dough and rock lesson I saw on this teacher’s blog. Instead of getting upset when a student from another class excitedly says “we got ___ amount of minutes,” we can genuinely say, “good for you!” and not let that bother us, because we did well too.

However, competition really motivates kids. The second day my class totally hit it out of the park with 2,540 minutes read. So I talked with my class about being on the other side and how bragging can be hurtful to other people, like we felt hurt when we were not in first place, and we always need to be mindful of how our words and actions affect others. I reminded them how they felt the day before when other students bragged in the hopes that they would not react in that way.

Getting students (even many adults) to think about how what they do impacts other people is a super difficult skill. If I can at least start my kids down that better path then I think I will have succeeded as an educator.

So thanks, Stevie, for getting our kids excited about reading and providing us with an excellent opportunity to authentically teach good character!


What have you done to get your students excited about reading? 



It’s Moments Like These:

image1I was teaching social studies this morning and after my mini-lesson and instructions I released the students on ISS to read a chapter in their social studies textbook and fill in a concept wheel about the main ideas in the reading. (ISS is International Space Station: aka work in small groups or partners or individually. It is one of my classroom structures you can read more about here in my original proposal.)

I let the kids get settled and then I walked back to my desk to finish an email I had been writing before school. After I had sent it, I looked up at my classroom and I had a moment:

Looking around I realized that my classroom was working exactly as I had intended it to. The kids were spread out all around the room working and every one of my students was on task. They had all taken accountability for themselves and chosen a working spot and group that was the best for them and the way they learn. Students working with their friends (and actually working,) students working independently, sitting on the floor, standing, and everywhere in between. The volume was a perfect hum of discussing the topic. This is the reason I have my room the way it is.

Now this is obviously not always the case. We have our good days and our bad days, just like any other class. But today, in this lesson, it felt absolutely perfect. And in this moment, it made all the hassle and work of my deskless classroom entirely worth it.

Also during this lesson, I had a specific student who has a lot of friends that she usually sits by, but she has been going through some girl drama lately. She chose to sit by herself. She came up to me about halfway through the work time and said she was finished already. She was amazed at how much she was able to get done when she didn’t have her friends to distract her. I’m sure she will go back to sitting by her friends some of the time, but her realizing that on her own is awesome.


image2Good Day 🙂