Last week I began sharing some of my favorite parts of There Are No Shortcuts by Rafe Esquith. Click here to see that post. I will pick up where I left off last week and continue talking about reading in the classroom.
"Read your favorite books with your students; they will respond to your enthusiasm for the material. Remember; the goal is to demonstrate the joy of reading; the material used is less important than the teacher's level of excitement. (...) You are the catalyst for a successful program and must go through the difficult material with the kids. (...) Children need plenty of adult guidance to become good readers."
I am going to read books with my students. The first book we will read and enjoy together will be Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.
I love this book. It brings me into another world. You get a beautiful picture of another way of life and a place to live. You are brought along with the main character as she lives alone except for her animals. There is loss and hardship that our students will be able to connect with and happiness too. I am very excited!
This isn't going to be a book study where we do work pages or creat a project. We will simply enjoy the book, discuss it with each other, respond in our journals, wiki, and blog, and read together. They won't be assigned chapters as homework. We will discuss unknown vocabulary and look things up together. I want to find time to show the kids how to love reading. This is going to be a good use of our time together. I think the comprehension we practice naturally during this time, will flow naturally into their testing passages.
"If you want your students to maximize their reading potential, you must lead by example. It starts with you. Make your reading program thrilling, challenging, and, equally important, relevant. Lives hand in the balance. If you do nothing else as a teacher, develop able and passionate readers."
Think about those things as you plan for the upcoming year. What do you think?
The last thing I want to share with you is a poem written by Charles Osgood of CBS News. (found on pg. 55 of There Are No Shortcuts)
There once was a pretty good student,
Who sat in a pretty good class;
Who was taught by a pretty good teacher,
Who always let pretty good pass--
He wasn't terrific at reading,
He wasn't a whizbang at math,
But for him education was leading
Straight down a pretty good path.
He didn't find school too exciting,
But he wanted to do pretty well;
And he did have some trouble with writing,
And no one had taught him to spell.
When doing arithmetic problems,
Pretty good was regarded as fine--
5 plus 5 needn't always add up to be 10
A pretty good answer was 9.
The pretty good class that he sat in
Was part of a pretty good school;
And the student was not the exception,
On the contrary, he was the rule.
The pretty good student, in fact, was
Part of a pretty good mob;
And the first time he knew that he lacked was
When he looked for a pretty good job.
It was then, when he sought a position,
He discovered that life could be tough--
And he soon had a sneaking suspicion,
Pretty good might not be good enough.
The pretty good town in our story
Was part of a pretty good state,
Which had pretty good aspirations,
And prayed for a pretty good fate.
There once was a pretty good nation,
Pretty proud of the greatness it had,
Which learned much too late, if you want to be great,
Pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad.
Let's contribute to greatness!
(click on the picture to download if you want)