So I'm making a tentative return to blogging!
2012 was not what one would call "my year".... everything that was on the plan, professionally, socially, personally fell through...and fell through in big, disappointing, cry your heart out ways....However, after all the plans fell through, everything that I was left with "off plan" was way better than I could have imagined.
So for the blog, I felt overwhelmed with what to write, but after reading lots and lots about blogs I realized I need to narrow my focus. I am a certified reading teacher, I love reading, I went to Columbia University to Teachers College to study readers workshop under Lucy Caulkins. So that's what I'm going to do..and make it easy for you to replicate in your classroom.
What you will not find..... cutesty worksheets, cutting activities, things that I could probably make money on- on Teachers Pay Teachers.
If you came into my classroom as an observer you may in some sense be bored because most of the time my kids are just sitting and reading. Not doing stations, or centers, art projects, fine motor skills...just sitting with books, pencils, stickies and having a blast!!!
So that brings me to my post "If I knew then what I know now..." If I could tell first year teacher Sarah Kate one thing I would have told her, set up reading partners!
Let me tell you something...... you are NOT the only teacher in the room. Little Johnny has 20+ other teachers in your classroom.
When you constantly answer all your students questions and come swooping into help them, you are subconsciously setting them up to think "Gee I need Ms. Teacher to do this with me, I CANNOT do this on my own...." and any good teacher does NOT want that!
Partnerships are not done willy-nilly and are semi-permanent (yes months and months!).
Partnerships are based on reading level, needs and personality. In my case we use the DRA, so my students are grouped by level (or in some cases with a child who is a level above/below them). Partnerships can be two or three students.
I set up my partnerships the first week of school and by week 3 they were locked in. We just changed them today, so they had the same partner for 70 days!!!! 70 days and not once did they complain about their partners!!
Why keep them together so long? Why base them on levels?
Would you want to have a book club on home entertainment with Martha Stewart? Would you want to read a Physics Magazine with Sheldon Cooper? Probably not, we have the best conversations and discussions with people who are operating in our zone of proximal development (not too far ahead, not too low). This way no one is forging the path dragging the other partner along through the mud.
Think about some of the best relationships in your life. How long have you known that person? How deeply do you know that person? In order for kids to have in depth conversations about books, they have to be comfortable and they have to have some similarities. By getting to know their partner they develop similarities, they know Sarah has a dog and two sisters just like the character in their book and they develop a bond...which helps promote deep conversation.
If I could get all teachers to do one thing in their room it would be reading partners, by level, for about 10 minutes EVERYDAY! More on my partner love later, but for now...
Peace, Love and Reading!