"If you want to find your happy place, just go to the library." ~ Lizzie K. Foley, Author

Posts tagged ‘reluctant readers’

Ready for Programming to Begin…

Tomorrow is it.  October 1st.  The day all school-wide programs start at my school.  I’ve been dreading this since Day 1.

I don’t know what it’s like in other school libraries.  Quite honestly, when I was a classroom teacher, I didn’t usually stay with my class when they went to the library.  When I taught at Coats, I stayed a few times.   It was story-time and she used puppets.  Usually while she was working with the kids, I was in the professional loft gathering resources though.  I just watched as I did what I needed to do.  When I taught at W.T. Brown, classes didn’t go to the library — they only did checkout and it was flex so it wasn’t a “bring your class” thing — just a send the kids in pairs when/if they asked.  When I taught at Wayne Avenue, we had a fixed schedule and we dropped them off.  She did a worksheet-based lesson with them, then checkout.  And then at North Drive…  my assistant usually took them and dropped them off.  I think it, again, was just a story and/or a checkout.

Now that I’m the media coordinator, I have an entirely flex schedule…  With a few exceptions.  I teach reading to 2nd graders from 8:35-9:05 in the mornings, and in the afternoons I teach character education lessons to kindergarten.  We lost an assistant, and that same class lost a scheduled computer lab time, so to accommodate, I keep that class in my library’s computer lab one day a week for 30 minutes or so, allowing that teacher the opportunity to attend her grade-level planning meeting.  And I have 12 mentees that I work with.

I don’t mind doing any of this stuff.  I love working with the kids.  It just makes it hard for teachers to schedule time to come.  My blocks of time that are carved out seem to be the times they want the most.

And what about collaboration?  My teachers want to use the library as a drop-zone.  Ditch the kids and run!  I’ll get a teacher who wants me to work on a skill from time to time, but it’ll be, “What are you doing with my class today, cuz it would be great if you could give them a lesson on nuclear fission for me — I haven’t had a chance to touch on science this week.  Just read them a good informational book and we’ll call it done.”  Really?  Sorry, Hon.  If you want to plan something, I need notice.  If you didn’t give me a request when you signed up a week or two ago, then you’re getting the library skill or thematic story I planned for them, and a checkout.  And if you want them doing a PROJECT, you need to plan it WITH me.  It’s YOUR job to teach them this stuff.  It’s my job to kick it up a notch and make it interesting.

I’m excited about the mentees though.  I know all 12 of the kids.  A couple of them ride my last nerve…  But they’re all sweet (when they wanna be), and mean well (most of the time, at least).  A few are actually readers who’ll be glad about spending time every week with me.  Most won’t.  So, I want to do something interesting with them.  I want to teach them how to do things with the computers.  I want to teach them to blog.  I want to teach them to use animoto and photostory.  I can teach them to use the digital cameras and flip video cameras.  There are lots of things we can do to make their learning fun, and get them excited about coming to the library.  I’ll give them the chance to “show off” what they’ve done to their classmates when their classes come.  The kids love book trailers — they’ll be so excited to make them for books they’ve read and show them off to their friends.  🙂

So anyway…  it all starts tomorrow.  I’ve got 2 weeks’ of reading lesson plans done and the materials gathered.  I’ve got my first two weeks’ worth of character ed lessons lined up too.  Now to just keep up the pace for the rest of the year…  Only a hundred and how many days left till summer vacation?

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Encouraging Summer Reading

The key to being a successful learner, is reading.  Students need to read what is required of them in English, but also in history, science, and even math.  The problem is, when reading becomes a chore, students lose motivation.  We often find in the schools that when students enter their upper elementary years (particularly the 4th grade), interest in reading for fun often drops off substantially as students transition from learning to read into reading to learn. 

When summer vacation arrives, many students will go the entire 8 weeks without touching a book.  This, for many, is even an outright goal.  We need to encourage them to embrace reading self-selected materials over this time.  It is their best chance of avoiding the dreaded “summer slide” and to actually even become better readers (though we might not want to mention that part).  This is the students’ time to read what they want, simply for the joy of experiencing something that interests them.

What can we do to motivate and encourage our students?  Here are some great ideas!

1) Invite students to give Book Talks to the entire class. Who influences kids the most? Their peers, of course, so providing children opportunities to pitch books to classmates can be incredibly effective and powerful.

2) Introduce kids (and especially those reluctant readers!) to a book series. This will inspire them to seek out the next book, and the next, and the next.

3) Provide your students and their families with the “Latest and Greatest” in fiction and non-fiction for the grade level you teach. I’ve had students come back to me the next year, and there are x’s by several book titles (they used the reading list I gave them as a check list!)

4) If teaching older kids, set up a Facebook page all about books. Students will then be able to share with their classmates (and you!) updates on what they are reading and post their book reviews.

5) Start or end class with a Read and Tease. This means you read a few enticing lines from a book (it can be the opening words, or midway through). For my students, I’d give a dramatic reading of the opening paragraph and then place the book on the rim of the whiteboard. At the end of class, at least 2 or 3 students would ask to check it out.

6) Advise families to take children to the library and bookstores on a regular basis. Send a letter home or an email with a list of neighborhood libraries and bookstores. Possibly include some inspiring quotes or a bit of research, giving some evidence to why reading is so very important.

7) Encourage your students to register for the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge. You can even make it a homework assignment. Scholastic also offers creative suggestions for classroom lessons using the Summer Challenge. Once a student does register, she will be able to enter a contest with prizes by simply logging in her reading minutes. Consider sending the Scholastic link to parents where they can download reading lists and get some tips for supporting their child’s summer reading.

Kids need to become lifelong readers early on. Be an advocate, guide and a reason for a child discovering the book that hooks him, inspires him to keep reading, and to continue seeking more and more enriching text. Developing strategic, savvy, critical readers is one of our great charges (and challenges) as teachers. It’s also one of our greatest rewards.