First of all, WOW! I can honestly say I’ve learned SO much about classroom libraries from the assigned blog readings for class this week. I highly recommend checking out “Creating and Managing a Classroom Library.” Starting my own library in my classroom has been something I’ve been thinking about all year. I do have a very small collection of my own books on a shelf in my room, but I have not started the process of growing it yet. I was extremely interested in using the site Donor’s Choose like Mrs. Andersen mentioned in her blog. I am a bit familiar with how their organization works and had never thought of it as a way to grow my personal library. I will definitely be looking into it!
My colleagues in the English department at the school I am employed at both have classroom libraries, which is when I first got the idea at the beginning of the year to set a goal for myself to acquire my own. I know it takes time and I am at the beginning of my career, but I have to start somewhere. I hear so often from students that they love checking out books from my coworkers’ libraries; I love hearing their eagerness and conversations about the books they find and read. I often hear a student recommending a book and saying something like, “Yeah, I found it in Mrs. “So-and-so’s” room. I want that environment for my classroom! I will say it again…GOALS!
The Importance of Free Reading Time
When I began at the school district I am currently teaching English at, I was so very excited to learn that all English classes had ten minutes of free reading time every single day. I actually went to school K-12 in this exact same district, and we did not have an allotted time for independent reading, especially in high school. I do remember “quiet time” in elementary school where we could sit in bean bags or chairs around the room and read picture or chapter books. I don’t recall much time set aside in school during my middle grade years for such thing, but I did A LOT of reading on my own. I always had a book that I brought with to every class and took home every night. I was an “odd” one though, as most of my friends and classmates didn’t do the same, but I’ve already discussed that in my very first blog post. 🙂
When I entered into the high school world, we definitely did not have time set aside for free reading every day in English class, which I would have loved. I don’t remember hating the classics that we were assigned to read, but at least half of my classmates despised them and probably would have enjoyed class a lot more if they were encouraged to read books they enjoyed. Needless to say, I am THRILLED that my school district has adopted free reading time in English classes, and I can’t wait to continue to help my students learn to love books! It is only the beginning. 🙂
How to Tackle IR Time in Class?
I am an organization freak, as in sometimes I think that I have OCD. I love coming up with systems for organizing, decluttering, and cleaning. This characteristic has DEFINITELY carried over from my personal life to my school life. I must have a clean, organized classroom. It makes me feel so much better, and I firmly believe a clean, decluttered environment is best for my students and me. Some may totally disagree with me and that’s perfectly fine. We are all entitled to our own personal preference!
That being said, as I navigate the waters of coming up with better ideas for encouraging my students’ free reading, as well as keeping track of their page numbers, etc., I realize that I must have a completely organized system set up. It will make me feel so much better. This year, I’ve been giving points for free reading based on whether or not they are using the ten minutes at the beginning of class to read. If you read, ten points, and if you don’t, two or three. I decided after one semester of doing this that I wasn’t doing enough for my students; I needed to better monitor and encourage them. What a coincidence that this class is helping me SO much in this area.
I had revised my system and was very excited to introduce it second semester this year, but I wasn’t able to fulfill my plan. Seeing as I was put on bed rest (and have not been able to return since) the very night before the first day of classes for the new semester, I knew it was too much to expect of my sub, as she was already overwhelmed, as anyone would be in a situation like that. I was bummed at first and not just about not being able to begin my new IR style, but just sad in general about not being able to be there for my students. BUT, I have taken these six weeks, and with the help of this class, discovered so many new, amazing, and beneficial ideas for how I will run free reading time for next year. It makes me SO excited!!!
I have already learned so much from Book Love, blogs, other members of the class, and coworkers!
From Book Love:
-Really like the idea of a page goal per week, as well as a book total goal for the semester.
-Chapter 3 opened up my eyes to the fact that not every student can read at the same pace. I need to remember that and work on my expectations for students.
-Although it shouldn’t be all about the grade, I do agree that it is kind of a must in school systems.
-“We want joy, yes, but we also must expect an increased complexity of texts over time.” I really like this quote. It’s so important that each student, individually, makes progress over time.
-I really liked this thought from Chapter 4, “the best I can do is not let fake-reading go by unnoticed.”
-The idea of organizing a classroom library by themes sounds interesting.
-“Altering our plans in response to what is happening in the classroom is the art of teaching.” I love this because it is something I discovered rather soon during my semester of student teaching. Flexibility and change is something a teacher has to be able to work with!