Happy Sunday! I hope you all have been able to soak up some of this fabulous February sunshine! Almost eighty degrees in February and I have to believe that the groundhog got it wrong this year….I’ve got spring fever for sure! 🙂 As we begin the month of March madness this week I am excited to celebrate one of my favorite days in school, Read Across America Day! This Thursday, March 2, I hope that you will “grab your hat and read with the cat” in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Whether you are six, sixteen, or sixty six you are never too old to celebrate the gift of reading! I hope that you will grab a book, and read to and with a child. I know I plan to visit lots of classrooms to read. It’s always fun to see not only the kindergarten students celebrate Dr. Seuss, but students of all ages.
This week’s Choice Literacy article just happens to be on the topic of celebrating reading. I hope you will take a few minutes to read the article below about how one fifth grade teacher got her students so engaged in a book that it turned into something bigger to celebrate than she could have imagined! Enjoy your week, and happy reading!
The fire of literacy is created by the sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading.
One day before winter break, my classroom was filled with blue food. We had blue punch, blue Jell-O, blue tortilla chips, and blue chocolate chip cookies. Why the color-themed food? We were celebrating the end of a class read-aloud, Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief.
Typically I avoid any rewards tied to reading. I believe reading needs to be its own reward. When it is tied to external motivation, the desire to read typically disappears when the rewards are removed. So why on earth would I have a “blue-food party” in my classroom?
I think reading rewards and celebrating books are two very different things. We had been “celebrating” The Lightning Thief during the weeks it took to read this book aloud. The bulletin board on the back wall had become Camp Half-Blood, with a map of the buildings and areas created by students in the class. A small tree in the classroom had been named Thalia and she guarded the borders of our classroom, just as she did in the book. It wasn’t unusual to see orange shirts on my students during those weeks we read the book, to represent the Camp Half-Blood T-shirts. A few students began to make necklaces for the others with beads on leather lanyards like the kids at camp received. When fan fiction with the characters from the book began to pop up in writing workshop, I knew the class was fully immersed in the world Riordan had created.
As a reader, I get this passion for a story. I’ve read a book and fallen so deeply into that world that the real world I inhabit begins to look dull in comparison. I’ve driven down the road and thought that a character would like something I’ve seen, only to remember they are fictional. Some of my fifth graders have experienced this already, but many have not. Our read-alouds are the vehicles in to this world of loving books.
So when my students and I gathered together on a cold winter day in Illinois and I turned the last pages of Percy’s story, they munched on blue food all around them. One boy commented that Percy was right — blue homemade chocolate chip cookies really were the best. Another said she wished that we could have blue Coca-Cola like Percy did at camp. And they all let out groans when I said, “the end” and closed the book.
Reading aloud to our students provides the opportunity to celebrate reading for the sake of reading. We get to bond over a story without concerns about reading levels or ability. For that month in winter we lived and breathed the story of a demigod on his quest to save the world. By the end, we had celebrated our community and grown a little bit closer, thanks to the worlds that we inhabited – both in the classroom and in our heads. That’s something to celebrate.
Contributor, Choice Literacy
We are begging you to PLEASE read and be familiar with our Accreditation document (see link below). As you look at your lessons for the Tuesday/Wednesday external visit days, please expect visitors and conversations.
Monday, February 28
Renaud to Pines
Whitley to Huntersville Oaks
CSD Lottery, 4:00, HS Black Box
Tuesday, February 29
4th Grade Mountain Unit Sharing
Love and Logic Parent Workshop, 8:30
Sharp/Westbrook to Williams Place
Wednesday, March 1
4th grade to Children’s Theater
Hosse to Huntersville Oaks
K-7 Staff Meeting, 3:30
Thursday, March 2
Read Across America Day
Love and Logic Parent workshop, 7:30
Friday, March 3
Elementary Spirit Friday
Feb 27 – CSD Lottery 4:00 – HS Black Box
Feb 28 – 4th Grade Mountain Unit Sharing
Mar 1 – K-7 Staff Meeting in Black Box
Mar 7-8 – AdvancEd Accreditation Visit
Mar 7 – Parent Advisory 7:30 at HS
Mar 8 – K-12 Staff Meeting after school (Accreditation Results)
Mar 9-10 – Teacher Workdays – NO SCHOOL
Mar 9 – 7th Grade SLC’s
Mar 14 – 6th Grade Butterfly Project
Mar 15 – K-7 Staff Meeting MS Black Box
Mar 17 – 3rd Grade Charlotte Symphony
Mar 17 – 7th Grade Asia Day
March 25 – CSD Auction
Week of March 20th – EOG Pre-testing and Data Analysis to be completed by 3/27/16
Week of Mar 27 – 5th Grade Operas
Week of March 27 – EOG Review and Prep Begins
Mar 29 – Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
Week of April 3 – 5th Grade Operas
April 7 – 16 – Spring Break
April 17 – Classes Resume
Upcoming “BIG” Dates:
May 12-13 – Staff Retreat
Week of May 15 – EOG’s
May 30 – State of the School Address
May 31 – Last Day of School
June 1-2 – Teacher Workdays