A Clean Slate

This entry is a day late, but I will write as if it were yesterday…

Today, I ripped down a bulletin board in my classroom that had been there for two years. The information on the board that now lays in my recycle bin was in regard to the Writers Notebook. This valuable tool to the Reader and Writer Workshop model is something I believed help students generate ideas, detailed the reflection questions, provided samples from students of classes past, presented the rubric for assessing the Writers Notebook, and had tips from The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do, by Colin Nissan. It was breathtaking… it was well thought out… it was meticulously spaced out… it added color to my windowless room… it was aesthetically pleasing… and it was COMPLETELY useless.

On the day I took it down, every student noticed its absence. No one could deny that something was missing, but not one, lovely child could tell me what was on it. Some responses included:

  • Oh… it was something about Poetry… right?
  • No, you idiot, it had inspirational quotes on it… I think I wrote about one, something from Plato (NOTE: this did not exist on the wall)
  • I remember… it was about the Readers Notebook and note-taking… Does this mean we don’t have to do it anymore?! Hey guys! No more notes – Thanks McCaff!
  • I know the background was green… that’s about it (NOTE: this is correct)
  • No way, it wasn’t green, I looked at it everyday, it was blue… the green one is on this side of the room (NOTE: they were in fact the same color).

So what does all this mean?

  1. My bulletin boards and room decorations do need to be aesthetically pleasing, BUT the one I intend to be used for instructional purposes does need to be USED!
  2. I need to feature student work and models that are interactive and inform instruction.
  3. Not all of them need to be like this, but again, the one I intended to be just that, needs to be.
  4. I have failed, but not lost hope…

Thus, why did I take it down and go for a clean slate?

As I have begun facilitating Readers Workshop in my classroom and focused specifically on principles from Penny Kittle’s model for rigorous independent reading, I knew I needed a space to validate and quantify the work that students have completed with regard to reading. We have started the Reading (R)evolution now we must keep stoking the fire.

Today, I put the finishing touches on my new board. It is floor to ceiling and runs the length of my classroom. In the middle of it appears the words Reading (R)evolution and that is all. It is ready to grow… just like me and my students.

Featured image

What will it feature?

The plan is big… it is scary… it is fantastic.

As students in my classes finish reading a text, they will be photographed holding their books. These photos will be matted with construction paper and they will be put on the wall.

Featured image   Featured image

How does this inform instruction?

Students will be completing assessments linked to their independent reading throughout the quarter. These assessments will be linked to google docs, google present, websites, youtube, etc. When mounting the photos to the wall, I will mount them only from the top, so that they can be flipped up. Using QR codes, students will connect their assignments to the codes and tape them up behind their pictures. The wall becomes a resource. It can serve as a model for the assessment, it can be a guide to adding books to a students To Read Next List, it can be an area of casual entertainment, and it will be a source of validation and quantification of the reading done by students in my classes.


I am ready for this (R)evolution…


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