Our school hosted a Pajama Day Read-In to celebrate Read Across America Day, and boy did our kids have fun! Everyone in grades K-5 (and teachers and staff, too!) wore their pajamas to school, brought in a pillow and/or blanket, and spent the morning reading together. Here are some of the highlights!
For Read Across America Day (RAAD) today, I wanted to provide some snacks for our guest readers from Alice Drive Middle School that would highlight a few books by Dr. Seuss — after all, RAAD was founded in honor of his birthday! So here’s what I came up with:
Here are some close-ups:
Cat in the Hat hats (strawberry and banana slices)
and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (goldfish)
Hop on Pop Popcorn
Brown Bar-ba-loots (chocolate teddy grahams)
Pink Ink Drink (strawberry soda)
The middle school students ate every crumb and drank every drop! Mission accomplished!
It’s hard for me to remember my earliest read-aloud experiences, because my mom and dad read aloud to me from the time I was a baby. I feel so blessed to have been surrounded by books all my life, and to have parents who were readers themselves. As a young child, I read aloud to my dolls, my cat, and my baby brother. I was raised in a home where sharing books was an everyday part of life.
A more specific memory is of my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Holden, reading aloud to our class. I loved Mrs. Holden; she was young and pretty, she wore fashionable clothes and shoes, and she was so kind and funny! She read many books to us, but the one that stands out in my mind is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Every day after lunch she would perch on her stool, facing us as we sat in our desks, and read to us about Fern and Wilbur and Charlotte and that nasty yet strangely fascinating rat, Templeton. When Wilbur received his special award at the fair, we all rejoiced; and when Charlotte died alone, we all cried together. I don’t remember any of the phonics worksheets I completed that year, but I will never forget that special reading time.
As teachers we need to remember that it’s not enough just to teach kids how to read; we need to teach, model, and promote a love reading as well, because there may not be anyone at home who is doing that for our students!
It just so happens that World Read Aloud Day is on March 5 this year, which is the day that our school is celebrating Read Across America Day. Therefore, our read-alouds will all be Dr. Seuss books! In addition to teachers reading, we’ll be bringing in guest readers from the community, and we hope to bring in some middle school students to share books with some of our elementary kids. It’s a half day of school for us, and we plan to make it a pajama day for our students and have read-in sessions throughout the school. What could be more fun?!?
Thursday, Oct 11, is International Day of the Girl, described as “a movement to speak out against gender bias and advocate for girls’ rights everywhere.”
The LitWorld website has added a literacy twist to the campaign with their Stand Up for Girls program, which “advocates for every girl’s right to a quality education. By learning to read and write, all girls in the world can protect themselves against poverty, poor health outcomes and lifelong struggle. Literacy is a skill that once learned, is hers forever.”
To encourage my teachers to raise awareness of this issue in their classrooms, I put together an annotated list of Girl Power biographies available in my library that not only highlight the accomplishments of girls and women in history, but are very read-aloudable. The list also includes a baker’s dozen of fiction titles featuring spunky heroines. I’ve included the first line or two from each fiction book in italics below the summary
I always appreciate the opportunity to share resources with teachers, and the poetry workshop I led last week gave me a chance to combine two of my favorite things: poetry and technology!
To prepare for the Putting the “Tech” in Poetic workshop, my assistant and I spent the afternoon setting up displays of poetry books for teachers to browse through before and after the presentation.
I pulled about a hundred poetry books and sorted them into categories (Concrete, Haiku, Novels in Verse, Themed Poetry, Art and Music in Poetry, etc) to make book selection easier, and Mrs. Jordan printed signs for each.
We also put out a display of books by our current U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, and featured a collection of eight Langston Hughes titles designed to inspire a Poet Study.
In addition, I had one of our document cameras set up as an example of how you could give students a close-up view of a collection of objects to inspire poetry writing, using a poetry book like Keepers: Treasure-Hunt Poems by John Frank, or a nonfiction book like Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman.
I also had a FLIP camera and a digital camera on display near a computer with a microphone plugged in.
When teachers arrived, they signed in to receive technology re-certification credit and to win a door prize. We had snacks out – after a long day of teaching you need something to keep you going! – as well as some discount coupons for our local bookstore.
Once everyone was settled, the real resource-sharing began! I spent the last two weeks in March adding websites to a Poetry LiveBinder that I created for the teachers. Resources in the Binder include links to lesson ideas for some of the poetry books in our school library (hosted at ThingLink), websites featuring free online poetry for children, poetry lesson plans from Read/Write/Think, web tools for interactive poetry writing, and sites that facilitate sharing and responding to poetry.
Most of the resources I included are ones that teachers can explore on their own according to their individual needs, so I focused my presentation on the technology tools that they might need more assistance with.
For example, I showed them how they could use Padlet to upload student poetry and have other students respond to it. (I especially like that Padlet doesn’t require an account to leave a comment, and keeps your links private until you share them.) Click here and here for examples.
I also demonstrated how student poetry could be shared both visually and orally via VoiceThread, and how viewers can leave an audio or text comment on a poem, provided they are logged into VoiceThread. Click here for an example.
As a bonus, these tools can also be used to share other types of writing, as well as photos and videos. I’m sure that some of the teachers who don’t use them for poetry will incorporate them in other areas of instruction.
At the end of the session, I encouraged everyone to share their best student-written poetry with me so that we can feature it on our Poem in Your Pocket bulletin board over the next few weeks. We’ll have multiple copies of these poems available for library visitors to read and take with them.
The workshop attendees left the library with a whole new set of possibilities for using poetry with their students, I’m confident that they will share them with the teachers who could not be there.
If you have a great poetry resource that I need to add to my collection, please leave a comment and tell me about it!