This quarter has been a whirlwind.
As I sit here, preparing to finish grading projects, I can’t help but take a productive moment to reflect on the last ten weeks. Ten weeks that began with trepidation, yet a natural confidence. I felt like I was onto something I would be able to execute. The Reading (R)evolution has changed me and my classroom for the foreseeable future. It has brought smiles to students’ faces. It has given them autonomy that they had been thirsting for. It has created a culture that I have never matched in my career.
So let’s recap…
- Students in ALL of my classes are making their own reading choices,
- my classroom library has grown exponentially,
- I have publicized my reading to students,
- I have talked about more books than I ever had in the past,
- and most importantly – I know my students better than I ever have before.
I can’t help but smile, can you tell?
My students understand the purpose of setting reading goals. More importantly, they have grown in their ability to talk about their reading. When I ask them about their progress they can talk about their successes and failures with more fluency. They make poignant observations like:
“McCaff, I’m killing this book. It took me a while to start, my reading rate was low, like 6 pages in 10 minutes… But now, I flyin’. I think it’s because the beginning was mostly describing back ground info.” (Male 10th grade student – about American Sniper)
“This book was one I needed to finish… My reading rate was 45 pages an hour, so I was actually able to set a plan… I knew I had 3 hours Saturday, so I knew I could finish – I was confident.” (Female 11th grade student).
What a great way to talk about reading – BUT then they actually talk about the books.
My 10th graders scheduled a discussion day to debate what book was better, 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher or Looking for Alaska, by John Green. 80% of my students voluntarily joined in, the other 20% pair up and encouraged a peer to read a book they recommended.
Again, all smiles.
One of my favorite days was when all our books came. We ordered $10,000 worth of books, enough to furnish 3 classroom libraries. When the books came, I felt like Steve Martin in The Jerk – “The phone books here, the phone books here…”
We sorted books and created the culture in OUR classroom. It was an exciting three days of sitting in stakes of books. They researched books, updated Next Lists, and carved out categories for them all.
My classroom is now a reading haven. I have received emails from parents and students about their new reading lives. Kids are talking about books at home, they are challenging each other and they are READING for REAL!
The wall of fame features a picture of a student with the book they just finished. It is now full and has spread around the room… in ten weeks!
And their grades – well, not everyone has an A, but every single students has read a book from beginning to end – one of them read 20.
That’s me smiling!
I can’t wait to see what happens the next day I see my students…