Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘reading’

The Joy of Summer Reading!

I went to the library today!  I left,  struggling with an armload of books by some of my favorite authors, Kellerman, Sanford, Block. I lovingly placed the books in the back of my car, envisioning myself on the couch, deck, gazebo, curled up with one of my books, lost in the story.  I am also a Nook owner ,  but I love the feel of a book in my hand.   I would read it at lunchtime, with only the light from my desk lamp illuminating each page.  I relished those 20 minutes, lost in a book or my Nook.

As you might have guessed,  I am an avid reader. I’m one of those people who writes Reading as their hobby.  I was that kid, devouring a book, while the other kids played in the street. I’m the teacher, who reads in her dimly lit room, instead of eating in the Teacher’s Lounge. 

 I tried to pass my love of reading to my students.  I managed to snag a few of them when I read “Series of Unfortunate Events” aloud.  I also made a habit of giving them a little teaser of whatever I was reading at the time.  But too many of them  weren’t interested.  There are  too many obstacles that block  kids from experiencing the joy of a good book.  Video games, lack of books at home, television, video games. It’s difficult enough to get them to read during the school year, the summer is a killer!

Educators, along with others, have begun to fight back!   My son’s district started a “one book-one district” requirement last year. My son read, The Hunger Game” last year and really enjoyed it.  This year, they are required to read, “The Uglies” and ” The Things a Brother Knows”, he’s already started, and my son is not a fan of books.

My school, like many others, have begun opening  the school library during the summer.  Our school will be open to the community every Wednesday, and our librarian will be there so the students can check out books.

There are websites that encourage reading over the summer, we used  the Scholastic Summer Challenge  last year. Good program, but unfortunately not many of our kids participated.  I recently found out about another one, Ivillage PBS Kids Summer Reading Community Challenge  from 5MinutesforBooks.com.

Local libraries usually have reading programs where incentives are offered.  TDBank offers a Summer Reading program as well, with an incentive of  $10 in a Savers Account. What a great idea!

I’ve read the about what happens to students who don’t read during the summer.  I’ve experienced, year after year, the difficulty of teaching students who have not picked up a single book during their break.

But all is not lost!  There were four librarians working  the desk at  my library, and I still had to wait in line!   Only one person in the line had DVDs in their hand, the rest, adults and children, had books. Reading is still alive and well!

“There are worse crimes than burning books.  One of them is not reading them” Joseph Brodsky


Reading Aloud! They’re Never Too Old!

I used to read to my students every day for five minutes. We would set the timer, and I would begin five minutes of uninterrupted reading.  Sometimes, the students would be “Guest Readers”, and they would get a chance to read the book to their peers. They loved it, and so did I.  Then I stopped. I don’t know why, but I did.

Last year, I became a volunteer for Read Aloud DE. Every Tuesday, I head to the day care across the street, and I read for an hour to 3 and 4 year olds. There is nothing like the feeling of being the Reading Lady, and having toddlers bum rush you as you walk in the door, or outside on the playground, screaming, “Read to me, read to me!”

Well, this motivated me to read to my 5th graders again.  I chose “The Bad Beginning” by Lemony Snickett. I have to admit I had never read one of his books. We set the timer, and I read, uninterrupted, for five minutes practically every day.  What an enjoyable experience for myself, and my students!

“The Bad Beginning” began to spring up on desks around the classroom, from low readers to higher level readers.   Some finished the first book, and moved on to the rest of the series. Some stayed with me, sharing each moment. I loved the reactions that were elicited from my students as I read. The gasps, the moans, the “Ugh, she’s only 14.”  The last day, when the five minutes were up, they begged me to finish, there were only 13 pages left.  I looked at the clock, thought about what I was supposed to be doing at 10:45 a.m., and kept reading! The applause at the end of the book was thunderous!

Each week, I would incorporate Edmodo, Twiducate Chat, Kidblog, something to make the students think, and write, about what I had read. I had them draw a picture of their favorite scene. Many of my students volunteered to bring in the movie. I’m going to use the movie as a vehicle to compare and contrast the book vs. the movie. Let them decide which is better, and explain. (I can create a poll on Edmodo before and after they view the movie). They will also create a Glog “book report” of the story.

It still amazes me what I was able to do with 25 minutes of Read Aloud a week.  I was able to incorporate many of the Language Arts Standards, and it inspired my non-readers to read.  The next book we read, I will incorporate Guest Readers again, and I will also ask their parents to volunteer to read. Five minutes a day created something that, I hope, will last a lifetime, a love of reading!

Education World: Reading Aloud, Is It Worth It?

Top 10 Things a Parent Can “Give” a Teacher for Christmas!

10.  A notebook, pencil, and paper for your child. If they have a Wii, I’m sure you can spare some change for these items.

9.   Dress your young  ladies, like young ladies. I don’t need to see your child’s cleavage or half of her butt.

8.    Make sure your child is on time for school. You are setting up bad habits for life when they are consistently late.

7.    Make sure your child is in school every day!  A 1 week  family vacation during the school year is not recommended for a failing student.

6.     Discipline your child.  If they do something wrong, there should be consequences.

5.     Be the parent!  You are not your child’s best friend! And no, you do not have to be the “cool” Mom or Dad.

4.     Have your child READ at home.  I do not have a magic wand, if they don’t read beyond the classroom, how will they become better readers?

3.     RESPECT the teacher.  If you call me a ” “b$#%&” at home, how do you think your child will treat me?

2.    Stop blaming the teacher!  Sometimes events are beyond the control of the teacher, but can be controlled by you and /or your child. 

1.    Make your child’s education a priority! Trust me, it will all pay off in the end.

Youtube version – Enjoy my video version! 🙂

Why Can’t Johnnie Read?

It’s scary out there! More and more, teachers are being held accountable for low test scores, low test scores from students who can’t read. Back in the 80’s, you had a small group of students in the “low” group, and the rest were average or excelled. Flash forward to 2010, and those “low” students are now the majority. Why can’t they read?!!! I have been struggling with this question for the past few years, it is so frustrating.  I have tried a multitude of  strategies, refusing to give up.  Is it the lack of books at home?  Is it just that they don’t care?  Is it the lack of conversation and the almost nonexistent vocabulary?   Is it …..?????  What do you do with students who, year after year, program after program, show no progress, literally, none! One parent asked to have her kid tested, she is frustrated as well because her daughter has been pulled out for reading groups for years. 

I volunteer to read to 3 and 4 year olds once a week.  Some of them are so enthusiastic and they can point out numbers, shapes, colors,etc…, they follow the plot of a story. While others, can’t form a single word. One of the parents came to pick up her son, and I overheard the teachers telling her he was using the word “f$#@”.  This same kid couldn’t form words and wouldn’t read with me the following week. Hmmmmm……… 

Today I had the kids that failed the reading test take it online, while I read the questions and choices aloud, they still chose the same wrong answers, while looking in the book for the answers! I tell students my  students every day, “There is no magic reading dust that I can sprinkle on you, the only way to become a better reader, is to read!” If only they would listen. Or better yet, maybe we can get Tony Danza to teach them! 🙂

Reading IS Fundamental!

I took my teenage son and two of his friends to the mall today, not to shop, but to meet District English teachers to discuss the book they had to read for their Mandatory Reading assignment. No, I wasn’t forced to grab both his legs and drag him, kicking and screaming, out to the car, he went willingly. The high school students in his district, had to read, “The Hunger Game” by Suzanne Collins, and they LOVED it! The District developed a “one-book, one district” policy and the results were amazing! There was a small turnout at the mall, but suprisingly, most of the students were male. I haven’t read the book yet, so I asked one of my son’s friend a question about the story. In the middle of answering me, he paused, and said, “I can’t believe I’m sitting here talking about a book!” I laughed and let him know it was ok to read. The teachers discussed the book and helped the students understand the project that accompanies the book. I spoke to the participating teachers afterward and they have heard nothing but good things about this initiative. One teacher said she saw one of her students from the previous year, who almost failed her class, at a McDonald’s she visited. He yelled, “Mrs.F, I finished the book, and I can’t wait to read the next one!” Wow! I am encouraged by this experience, excite them and they will learn! By the way, my son will also be reading the second book in the series. 🙂

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