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!
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 😉
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:
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. While 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.)
I 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:
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?