When I started this blog this past summer I had visions of posting thoughtful and meaningful ideas regarding my reading and teaching life on a daily or weekly basis. Well, once the year began reality set in and I learned there is only so much time in one person's life and the daily blogging idea went out the window as they say.
Teaching full time, running a before-school reading class twice a week, fathering two teens, being a "present" husband (not hooked to the laptop), reading children's books, reading my Boys' Book Club selection, reading books for pleasure, keeping up with my PLN on Twitter, and having a somewhat normal social life, the ReadWonder blog took a backseat.
I woke up this morning and was thinking about my first 28 days teaching 4th grade and have so many wonderful memories and thoughts of the beginning of my 22nd year of teaching. I have always had the passion for reading and books, but know that I started this year better than ever sharing all the books I read over the summer with my 27 students and the reading fire was lit from that first day.
I am thrilled that I was introduced to the format of graphic novels and have shared many of those books with my students. They love them and I think all the readers have read at least one during the first 28 days. Many of our first reading clubs were graphic novels. After a student has finished the requirements for a specific club, they get recognized during our morning meeting, receive a certificate of completion, and sign their name to that club sheet on our bulletin board. For certain books and clubs, I have special book marks and/or items to give to the reader.
My students look forward to our picture-book-of-the-day that we begin our morning with. We have kept a list of all the books and keep them in our picture book bin in the front of the room. It is so great to see students gravitate toward that bin during our reading zone time to reread the books on their own.
My first "Breakfast with Books" was a success with about 12 readers joining me on a Friday morning at the end of September to talk about The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. It led many readers to the 2nd and 3rd books in the series. This month we are reading Capture the Flag and will meet at the end of the month. This is probably one of my most treasured events I do with my students.
A personal highlight for me was reading the book Pickle by Kim Baker. I tweeted about it and Kim replied. After some back and forth tweets, she sent my class a "SWAG" bag with many pickle goodies in it. The excitement over this book in my room is palpable and I am so thankful to her. It has been wonderful to learn through Twitter that authors are real people, approachable, and want to connect with their readers. Thank you to all the authors who have connected with me over the last several months.
Just recently I learned that our 6th grade team from my building will be going to hear Donalyn Miller speak here in the Twin Cities. I couldn't believe it. I can tell you that the first thing I'm going to do tomorrow morning when I get to the building is to email my principal and ask her if I can join that team to attend her presentation. I have gained so much knowledge and affirmation from Donalyn and it would be so COOL to actually see in her person to gain even more knowledge and insight! I hope I can make that happen...
My school just finished our four week Read-a-Thon and I had 100% participation. We may have gotten the most reading minutes for our grade level and maybe even the building (K-6). I will let you know after our Read-a-Thon assembly on Wednesday.
I'm also excited about our upcoming Skype visit with author Stephan McGranie who wrote the Mal and Chad books. I have ordered both those books so my classroom can have their own personal copies. I will be sharing the big news with my readers tomorrow during our morning meeting. I can't wait to tell them and know they will be so excited!
I'm not sure how much excitement we can take in room 113. The vibe is just so positive, fun, exciting, and one I don't think I've ever had during my teaching career.
I know there are things I'm forgetting about the first 28 days, but this is getting a bit long and I don't want to lose the reader or two that might be reading this. Oh, we are going to finish up the book Wonder this week and I have already had kids tell me they don't want the story to be done. How great is that???
For whatever reason, I just had to get up on this gloomy Sunday morning and BLOG about my first 28 days teaching 4th graders to love to read, to love books, and to love being a part of a community of readers!
I'm also hoping I can get more of a balance and find some spare moments to pop on the ReadWonder blog and share a bit of news here and there...
PS: Oh, and I'm also helping with our 13th annual Book Donation Night at the end of October. We just went to the Red Balloon Book Store in St. Paul and gathered 100 of the newest and best picture books and novels to display at our Fall Harvest so families and buy and donate them to our school library. We have probably added over 1,500 books with this program and it brings me great joy to know that I'm helping build a complete and up-to-date collection of children's books!