Friday, February 11, 2011

Get Passionate About Reading!

This week I had the privilege to do something I absolutely LOVE…talk to kids about books!

I started with a book talk of a few of my favorites: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Then, we did a version of Janet Allen’s Book Pass where the students explored four books.  They had about three to five minutes to preview and read the book.  Next, they had one minute to write a few thoughts about the book. Then it was time to pass the book on to a classmate.  After previewing four books, we starred the one with liked the best. I asked students to turn and talk for two minutes about the book they enjoyed and were considering checking out.  About 90% of the class found at least one book to add to their to-read list.

But, wait…that’s not the best part!  The teacher sent me an email yesterday that said: “There was an actual confrontation in my honors class over the book PEEP. Ha! I am glad you increased their motivation!!!” While I don’t condone arguments, I am glad they were passionate enough to vie for the same book! Now that’s sparking an interest in reading.

What great book will you share with someone today?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Conferring...reality check

After posting about conferring last week, I had an opportunity to work with six, reluctant, boy writers.  Now we all know boy writers are a special breed, and these young men were no exception. 

I have been working with a social studies teacher who has implemented some excellent reading and writing assignments into her sixth grade class.  This assignment was a culminating project for her WWI unit.  The students had to create a journal as if they were a WWI soldier.  They needed to create a persona, discuss training, trench warfare, conditions of battle, availability of supplies, etc.  They were asked to get creative with their presentation by distressing their journals and using strips of muslin to bind their book.

I'm thinking...great, no problem.  I worked with these young men to complete the assignment and/or improve on what they had turned in to their teacher.  Some needed to add more details.  Some needed to complete their journal entries.  Some needed to start their journal.  Since all of them were at different places in the process, I was trying to incorporate my new skills.  I will say I fell down on the compliments!  Absolutely failed.  I was so busy managing six boisterous personalities that compliments were not on my mind.  Also, one student had nothing to compliment as he had not begun the project.  Can we say conundrum?

I did however, find a teaching point and set some writing goals.  One student's goal was to write three sentences.  One student to complete a half page.  One student needed to review his notes on trench warfare and add specific details to his entry.

Good thing there's always next time for the compliments!