Today rocked! I think we have a great set of new fifth graders this year and MANY of them already seem as enthusiastic about reading as my co-teacher and I are. Meeting students for the first time is always so fun, isn't it?
Today was one of the best first days that I can recall in quite awhile, mainly because of the effort to approach the first day differently. I mean, I tend to always change things up each year, but today's first day was unlike any first day I have had before. Thanks to inspiration from Colby Sharp (@colbysharp), today was a reading explosion in my room! I pounded, screamed, and possibly even jumped around the room exclaiming that reading was THE BEST! The kids couldn't believe it as I walked across the rows of desks shouting "Reading is AWESOME!" Did they think I was crazy? Maybe a bit...but that's okay. I told them that without paying the cost of a scuba diving trip, I was able to go deep-sea diving this summer because of a book I read. I told them that even though I have never met a kid in real life with a severe facial deformity, I met one (a boy named Auggie) this summer while reading Wonder. I asked them, "Did you know that you could travel to Africa without paying the airfare?" I wanted them to know books take you to exciting, new places.
I have always had good success, on the whole, with getting my students to read more and also enjoy their reading more. But, this summer, I realized that I needed to do more. Thanks to some awesome Twitter friends and Donalyn Miller's (@donalynbooks) book The Book Whisperer, it became clear what I needed to do differently - get them into reading on day one! The idea of letting kids check out and raid my books on the first day initially violated my internal desire for balance and order. After today's excitement, I know I did more on THIS first day of school than I ever have before by simply getting books in my students hands right away and sharing my passion for reading as loud as I could! Sitting in front of them telling them the importance of reading (like I have done so many times) pales in comparison to literally jumping for joy and allowing them to get into the library and start choosing books. My kids handled it well and even though I was "spraying it while I was saying it", no one complained that a few specks of spit headed their way. The final result was over 90% of each class today borrowed a book to take home tonight :-)
After this frenzy, my students were able to read for 15 minutes to themselves - a new routine that I vow to make time for each day. I also was able to pull them together as a group and read Chapter 1 of my first read-aloud of the year, Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. I will post a picture tomorrow and on Twitter for #nerdybookclub.
I hope everyone who returned to teaching today, has already, or will soon has a great first day also!
If you have never read this hilarious book, check out this great site with a review of my first read aloud: Kids Blog Review of Sideways Stories From Wayside School