Sunday, August 28, 2011

The First Three Weeks

Three weeks since I posted on my blog.  The first three weeks of school are over.  Nope, not a coincidence.

Although challenging at times, my first weeks with my new class of 30 wonderful fifth graders have been successful.  We're building a community a little bit at time through class meetings, "The I Message," and reading.

My school has a dedicated block schedule where I must devote an hour and a half to the district anthology each day.  The anthology has it benefits, such as pre-determined focus skills, mandatory attention to all genres of reading and an exposure to a wide dearth of literature.   However,  I notice that it doesn't encourage reading for pleasure.   Research shows that the more students read, the more their reading ability improves.  

Thus, each day, completely separate from my reading block, I schedule reading conferences.  This is a time when students read their independent book for 20 minutes or so while I circulate around the room, holding mini-conferences.  At this time, I check their reading lists, talk to them about the books they are reading and suggest new books.  Some early successes:
  • I skipped reading conferences for a few days, due to testing, and found that students had moved the "Important" magnet next to it's slot on the agenda.  I have not skipped them since.
  • One student loves Inkheart!  I just finished this book last week and promptly recommended it to the class.   This boy latched on and each day tells me how good the book is.  I couldn't agree more.  Hopefully more students will love it as well once a copy finds it's way into their hands.
  • Our first time taking books to an assembly... happened.  I count this as a success because we tried.  Some students read while they were waiting for the assembly to start and some chatted with their neighbor.  Scanning my class, I did notice the talkers were the ones still fighting reading.  I need to focus some attention on these kids to find books they might like.
  • My classroom library still looks amazing!  Students are able to easily put books back where they belong as a result of the new organization.
I know that independent reading in my classroom will be a process of trials and errors.  I am persistent however.... and stubborn.  Stubborn helps a lot. 

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