I believe in independent reading.
I believe in high quality mini-lessons.
I believe in reading aloud.
Reading a ton of self-selected books every single day, coupled with high quality mini-lessons and read alouds make for a pretty rocking reading environment. I also want to provide my readers with reading events. Events, centered around reading, that rock their 10-year-old worlds. I want my fourth graders to go home at the end of the school day and have something big to tell their parents when asked the question, “What did you do at school today?” I believe that these positive moments that can give the dormant readers an opportunity to allow themselves to fall in love with reading.
At the end of the school year I asked my students to come with a list of their 10 reading events. Our brainstormed list included well over 30 events. They reluctantly narrowed them down to 10.
The list in is chronological order.
The day that I got my class list, in early August, I called every single one of my students and invited them to a reading party to celebrate the “Book Birthday” of Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger. I invited all of my students from the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school year. Close to 30 students showed up at the party. It was so much fun. My incoming students got to see: how crazy I am about reading, hear my first book talks, ask my students from the previous year questions, hear book talks done by former fourth graders, and they got to drink Yoda Soda. I feel that this party really set the tone for the school year.
I hit my students with this “pump up” speech the very first morning of the very first day of the school year.
On September 27, my students and I celebrated the “book birthday” of Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder and Squish 2 by throwing a party complete with chocolate cake for Bread Box (flavor of the cake chosen by Laurel Snyder) and pink lemonade to celebrate Squish (pink because we LOVE Babymouse).
After cake, juice, and booktalks we Skyped with one of the nicest ladies in children’s literature – Laurel Snyder. I was so excited for my students to get an opportunity to chat with Ms. Snyder. After the Skype, Bigger Than a Bread Box was in student readers’ hands for 6 straight months.
Near the end of September we finish our first chapter book read aloud: Fig Pudding. One of the chapters near the end is called A Steaming Bow of Sadness. This is the chapter where my students first saw me cry while reading. This isn’t as exciting as some of the other moments we shared together, but I think that it sets the tone for year. When students see this old guy cry, they see that reading is serious, powerful, and important. I think that it helps them to emotionally connect with books in a way that they previously did not know was possible.
On October 12, my students and I had the pleasure of hosting author Michael Scotto at our school. Mr. Scotto spoke to the third and fourth graders at our school the importance of reading your writing aloud. My students thought they were so cool when they found out that they got to be some of the first students to see the book trailer to Michael’s book, Latasha and the Little Red Tornado.
My students often clap after a picture book read aloud. It always makes me smile. After I read them aloud Blackout they clapped, and then they started begging me to read it again. They often ask to hear our picture book read alouds a second time, but I could tell that they REALLY wanted this to happen. During the second reading a student stood at the light switch, and when the power goes out in the book he flipped off the lights in the classroom. It created an amazing atmosphere in the room as I read Blackout in the dark. When the power came back on in the book he flipped the lights back on. Rereading Blackout to my readers was so much fun.
7. ALA Awards
I think that it is important that we celebrate books, like normal people celebrate movies, sports, and music. When it was time for the American Library Association to announce the Newbery and Caldecott my class tuned in. We popped popcorn, drank juice boxes, and took a few minutes of our day and watched.
Please understand that I’m not sharing this video to show disrespect to the Caldecott winner. The reason my students reacted the way that they did, is because they fell so madly in love with the other candidates, that they were devastated that “their book” didn’t win. After the awards we read A Ball for Daisy, and they liked it:)
OH NO! I am running out of words. We try to stick to a 1000 word limit on Nerdy Book Club, so I am going to be brief with my last 3 reading events.
8. Linda Urban Visit
Linda Urban visited our classroom? Seriously, the Linda Urban spent two plus hours hanging out and talking with my readers. WOW!
9. Donalyn Miller Visit
Donalyn Miller visited my district to lead professional development for a day. She was there to help us grow. I tried telling my students that, but they decided that Donalyn Miller was their to hang out and talk books with them. They felt like a reading celebrity was coming to visit. They were right.
9 Four-Way Skype
My students were able to connect via Skype with Mr. Schu’s students, Jennifer Holm, and Matthew Holm. It was Babymousetastic!
10. Babymouse Lip Dub
I am out of words. I hope this video, that we filmed at the end of the year, speaks for itself.