Now that Spring Break is officially over, several things have occurred:
1. I seriously miss my ample reading time! Over break, I read and read. If that could be my full time job, wouldn't that be wonderful? I am still reading, but not as much.
2. Testing mania has set in, as we prepare for our Ohio Achievement Assessments, less than three weeks from now. This is the point in the year where you begin to feel worried, due to the pressure to "get high scores", that you may have spent a little too much time allowing students to read and recommend books. (That idea gives me the chills.) According to many teachers who have allowed independent reading to be a large part of their reading instruction, high test scores are a natural byproduct of meaningful reading in the classroom. I know the more my students read, the more successful they are. However, a part of me knows that many of these standardized tests do little to tell me what my students can or cannot do - so, what will the outcome be?
3. My classes picked up reading where we left off in Wonder. I am thrilled that they still continue to love this book, certainly the longest book they've ever had shared aloud. This is a book that easily connects to my students. They love to give their opinion of how they would have acted in certain situations or handled the same problems Auggie and the other characters faced. Many of them, yesterday, felt Jack was justified in hitting Julian (I couldn't completely disagree), but many took a surprising stance - that it was both right and wrong - and that incidents like these in life are much more complicated, more complex, more "gray" than they first appear.
4. Lastly, I have been thinking about Mr. Browne's precepts, which appear throughout Wonder. I love them. My favorite precept is "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." from Dr. Wayne Dyer. I have tried to instill this in my students this year. Choosing to be kind is not always natural, can be hard for kids, but is so important. I also loved how Mr. Browne connected with his students over the summer. In the book, the students at Beecher Prep have these precepts to take home with them in June. In the summer, they are required to mail Mr. Browne a precept of their own on a postcard. I LOVE this idea of keeping in touch with students - in some way - over summer break. I would like to do one related to their summer reading - maybe ask them an important theme they've discovered from their reading or an important personal connection they've made?
So, friends, the question is...how do YOU connect with your students over the summer? Please share any ideas of ways you communicate with your class of students over the summer. I think we should all be inspired to connect with our students, even when they are away from us and even into the future, when they may not be in our physical classroom anymore.
Mr. Browne's precepts (rules to live by), from Wonder by R.J. Palacio