Friday, November 15, 2013

Survey Results Are In: Our Third Graders Love to Read

Donalyn Miller's reading instructional approach detailed in The Book Whisperer turned my world upside down in August and totally reframed how I approach reading instruction. 

As a student teacher, my main goal is to create a classroom environment where children enjoy reading and embrace their identity as a reader. 

As an adult, if you were told that every time you read a book you have to answer multiple choice questions, write several paragraphs about it, or do a book report, would that encourage or discourage you from reading? That's what I thought. 

So I avoided using worksheets, comprehension questions, book reports, cumbersome projects, and similar inauthentic assignments that burden the act of reading. And just let them read. 

As it turns out, they love it!

Today I gave the children a survey on what they like about the way reading is taught in our classroom. The results were amazing. Here are some examples of questions and responses on the survey. 

1. What do you like about the way Ms. Cantrell and Ms. Straume teach reading?
Some quotes from our students: 

"I like that we have a lot of time to read."
"They recommend you good books."
"[I like that] they let us choose our own books to read."
"They let us read so much which I love and they choose really good books for us and they give us good recommendations"
"I like how they read [out loud]."
"[I like] how they let us read every day in school."

"How you let us read a lot"
"That you give us a long time of READING!"
"I love the time to read!"
"I love everything about how Mrs. Straume and Ms. Cantrell teach reading in class."

2. Do you like reading?
100% of student responded "Yes!" that they enjoy reading

3. How much time do you spend reading on a typical school night?
The vast majority of the students reported that they are reading more than 20 minutes on any given school night. 

Children appreciate being given time to read in school. They like it when teachers just. let. them. read. I can see this reflected in the amazing quality of our students' behavior during reading time. They are always quietly focused on what they are reading. We are collecting data on students' comprehension and fluency and seeing increases across the board there as well. 

Donalyn Miller, if you're reading this, thank you! The Book Whisperer works!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Math Can Be Beautiful Too!

November 1, 2013

The children have been learning about multiplication as repeated addition. Today we started by practicing translating multiplication facts into repeated addition equations. Then the students used crayons and water colors to write repeated addition equations in an artful way. I loved giving the children an opportunity to experience math in a more visually pleasing way than just paper and pencil problems.  
Math can be beautiful too!


Field Trip to the Public Library

November 1, 2013
A few weeks ago my mentor teacher and I told the children about how we had visited the brand new library in Crozet together. When you go inside, it's so chic and beautiful it feels like you're walking into a classy bookstore.

The children suggested we take a field trip, and we did! They were so thrilled when the day came today that they actually skipped from the school doors to the bus.

One of our generous classroom parents donated reusable book bags so that the children could tote home a bunch of books and not have to carry a big stack of them. This brought up the discussion of how many books one person can check out from the public library- 75! The magnitude of this number sent murmurs of excitement through the third grade class. 

When the children arrived at the library they received an excellent book talk from one of the librarians and a behind-the-scenes tour of the library. She discussed these three books specifically. I was captivated by her description of the story The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare. I love reading survival stories and I've always been fascinated by Native Americans. So I checked it out to read over the weekend.

Finally, the children had the chance to explore the library and pick out some books themselves. Some students used the online library catalog while others browsed. I heard students making book recommendations to each other and saying things like...
"Hey, I found the Goosebumps books that you like!" One of the students asked me on the way out, "Are we coming back next Friday so we can return these books and check out new ones?

... These children are really starting to love books and enjoy reading! I am ecstatic! And remember...

Be a reader... join the movement.