A Slice of Life is a weekly blog hosted by Two Writing Teachers, Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz. Click on Two Writing Teachers to be taken to their website to learn more about this week's
Slice of Life.
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As a beginning teacher mentor, I miss out on the day to day joys of sharing books with students. Don't get me wrong. I carry books in my bags and show teachers and their students what I'm reading. If I pass a student in the hallway with a book, I ask about what they're reading. So, I guess I dabble in book sharing, but nothing like when I was in the classroom full time.
I also miss the read aloud. I love it all - picture book read aloud, poetry read aloud, middle grade chapter book read aloud, well, you get the idea. I love a read aloud. And, trust me, I don't shy away from "the voices".
This week I'm partnering with one of the teachers I mentor. I spend some intensive time supporting strategies that she wants to focus on for her own professional growth and she allows me to borrow her students for some instructional strategies I want to refresh and refine.
The motivation was that I wanted to be a part of coaching students through redeveloping stamina through the Daily 5 structure. Both of the elementary schools where I mentor are implementing Daily 5. As a result, the reading teacher from one school and I are leading both schools through a Daily 5/CAFE book study and professional learning community. (Side note: if you have not read the 2nd edition of The Daily 5, then I highly recommend that you do. It's even better than the 1st edition.)
Today, during the first "round", the students I was with held stamina for 3.5 minutes. After pulling together to reflect and reteach the i-chart for Read to Self, I sent them on their way and they increased to 6.5 minutes. A read aloud seemed like an appropriate "lesson". Yesterday, I brought a book off of the Oregon Battle of the Books list that is next on my TBR pile for the read aloud. They did not really engage with the story the way that I had expected them to. I decided to change things up for today and I brought with me several of my favorite picture books from 2014 to read aloud during one of mini-lesson times. The book I chose to read with them was none other than Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz.
Based on previous visits to the classroom for teacher observation and feedback, I had witnessed this group of 5th graders to be particularly squirrely. Twenty plus years of educator experience led me to suspect that this squirrely bunch would love a picture book read aloud as much as classrooms of my own students from the past. Yet, strangely, I was a tad apprehensive about how this group would receive being read a picture book.
After the first page, one student stopped me so she could "move to a spot where (she) could see the illustrations better".
At one point, I looked across the carpeted space (yep, I bring 5th graders closer to me...especially for a read aloud) and witnessed magic.
Not a single student moved.
All eyes were glued on the book.
No one student said a word. (I actually wondered if they were breathing.)
This squirrely group of students was under the spell of the picture book read aloud. I knew it but today it was reaffirmed the interest that our students, our larger, middle grade students, have with not just a picture book, but also having a picture book read to them.
Since the students are not students of mine, if felt like a small gamble. The gamble paid off. The classroom teacher was able to witness the power of the picture book read aloud. I was able to experience that feeling again of sharing book love with students. It made me miss having a classroom of my own.
For now, I will be looking for ways to invite myself into more classrooms for that magical moment that comes with a picture book read aloud.