This school year, I ventured onto a new endeavor with my students—get them to read and write. This transformation has been in the making for quite some time, I just didn’t know how to let go. Really, all it takes is what I like to call grassroots teaching.
Grassroots teaching is basically just having the kids read, write, discuss, make connections, and show that they understand by writing.
Reading The Book Whisperer and attending The New Jersey Writing Institute AKA ABYDOS Learning only helped show me the way to this Promised Land.
In my writing class, we talk about grammar rules and instead of a worksheet or test; my students apply it to their writing. We talk about details in a piece of writing, how the author used the details, and my students imitate the format in their writing.
I tell them what figurative language is and we find it in literature, and then, the students play with the language. My kids can tell you what the theme of a piece of literature.
Instead of focusing on everything that is wrong with their essay, we look at what is good. Then, we look at one aspect to make it better.
It makes sense right?
And yet, it’s a battle for others to see what the point of all this is.
But me, I’ve never been happier. During SSR (Super Silent Reading—really it’s Silent Sustained Reading, but that’s a terrible name), my kids read…books…like novels…long novels.
At the start of the year, when I told my students they would be required to read 45 books this year, some groaned. A few looked at me in disbelief, thinking that they could never, ever meet that requirement.
I remember one student asking me, “Ms. do you think you can get someone who doesn’t like to read to like it?”
I looked at her and said in all honestly, “Yeah, I think so.”
The next day, again, the same student asked, “Ms. do you REALLY think you can get someone who doesn’t like to read to read?”
“Yeah,” I replied, more confident than ever.
We are about 2 months into the school year and that same student has read seven books. SEVEN!
I got her hooked on the Bluford High Series. Being a scarce commodity in our library, I ordered the entire set from Townsend Press. When they came in, I called her science teacher and asked if I could see her for a few minutes. By the time she got down to my room, I had the books laid out on a desk.
“They’re here!” I said when she walked through the door.
The smile on that kid’s face made my day.
I feel great about what I am doing with my kids. I love hearing them talk about boks to one another, or when they do a little dance because the book they’ve been waiting for is finally at their disposal, or when they share their writing and hear praise from their classmates.
I really do feel like I’m finally doing this teaching thing right this time around.