Hey teachers . . . . What would your students highlight if asked to share about their classroom? I was delighted to see what my students mentioned when I asked.
The task? Write a note to a fictitious new student. What would someone new to our room need/want to know?
Dear New Student:
“My friends are so nice to me in this class. I love my teachers and all of our helpers and visitors. I love all of the books! They are special and calm. I play with my friends but not all of the time! We go to the carpet for read alouds. I love math. It is so fun and it makes me happy.” Kelvin
“We are so nice that your heart will break. And we listen. We do art too. You will get smarter in this classroom. You will meet different students in Seymour School. You must have a big brain. We do singing at school.” Kala
“This classroom has lots of books like chapters, board books, picture books. So if you don’t know this, this is not the class for you! Get reading!” Ava
“We do mindful breathing three times a day. At the class meeting, we say something we are grateful for. Sometimes, I say I am grateful for my friends.” Vicky
“Be polite at people. Be nice. Do reading groups. Do your job like cleaning up if it is the end of the day. I love math. I love books too! Did you know that we do mindful breathing 3 times a day? You could read a book many times.” Kevin
“We always come to the carpet for a story after lunch. We do art every week. We do a gratitude circle. You say something special when you got the gratitude stone. Sometime I say I am grateful for my family. BLG readers come every Wednesday. There are lots of books in our classroom. I like to read Jack Stalwart series, Stink books, Owly and Captain Awesome.” Heman
“I’m Gracie. I just wanted to let you know that we do quiet time. And Ms. Gelson has a library in her classroom! She loves loves loves reading. We have an art gallery in our classroom too. On Thursdays we have class meetings. But what you really have to know is that . . . WE LOVE READING!” Gracie
So while these letters started off to an imaginary new student, in the end they turned out to be little pieces of writing I treasure.
Yes, the book love is transferring! Students love a room full of books and time to read. Our daily mindful breathing features big. Math is fun! Learning and community are front and centre!
This is a classroom we are proud of and ready to share – so . . . Dear new student, if you arrived, we would welcome you!
With this goal in mind – read often and from a wide variety of sources, we are spending time each week exploring different reading bins in the classroom. My reading group is keen to explore and share picture books. This week we explored our Rhyme and Repetition bin using this format: 1. Explore the bin 2. Spend time reading some self-selected titles 3. Talk about what we noticed 4. Write a reflection
I brought out this bin and students predicted that many of these titles would have rhyming parts and selections of text that repeated (the title of the bin made this prediction a pretty easy one :-)) I read a few pages of a few books to model exactly that. We identified how often ending words rhymed and that sentence structure or specific phrases repeat. Students then helped me spread the books out on the carpet and every child spent fifteen minutes reading a variety of titles from this set of books.
We then gathered back at the carpet and shared what we had noticed focusing on this question:
Our list definitely included the rhyming and the repeating but students started with the fun aspect of the stories pointing out that they were often silly, farfetched and funny. It was clear that the word play brought a lightness to the books. One student even commented that the authors would have to work very hard to make all the words work together.
I then asked students to take just five minutes and write their own reflections about the books they read from this bin. This student was a big fan of these titles! He writes: “I noticed that they (meaning the authors) were worked very hard, They are the best in the world. They are very funny.”
Today during independent reading, some students returned to this bin. It’s all in exposing students to new titles and genres to broaden their reading choices. Each week, I plan to introduce a different bin of books and follow a similar process. It’s a great opportunity to work on our reading stamina and increase our knowledge of book choices.