When I was at the Michigan Reading Association a couple weekends ago, I had the privilege to attend Donalyn Miller’s luncheon and listen to her speak about reading communities. I’ve known Donalyn for a few years now through Twitter and the Nerdy Book Club, and spend quite a bit of time talking with her when we’re at NCTE/ALAN, but this was the first time I’ve listened to her speak in a formal setting. Anyway, she brought up an important point that she’s also discussed on Twitter before. She spoke about how many of our students are dependent readers. They’re dependent on us as readers because they only make/have time to read during our classes, and they only find books through us or with our help. She discussed how it’s important for us to help our students become independent readers who will read beyond our classroom walls and find books without our help.
As Donalyn was discussing this, my wheels started turning. Not long before the MRA conference, Jillian Heise pinned this inspiring picture on Pinterest. I LOVED the idea of sharing my reading life with my students and decided to copy her idea on my classroom door. Jillian’s idea has been spreading online and now many of us (teachers/librarians) have been sharing our reading life displays on Twitter. My students are awed by the amount of books on my door (thankfully I’ve added more since taking this picture), and we started discussing reading and which titles we love. They started sharing with me and their classmates the titles they’ve read this year and how much they love reading. The psychology/health teacher across the hall liked my reading life door as well and asked how he could create one. He tweaked this idea for his door and has all of his favorite non-fiction books on display. (I’ll take a picture soon and update this post with it.)
So while I was sitting in Donalyn’s session listening to her talk about dependent readers, I got an idea. How cool would it be if my students were able to publicly display their reading lives? Thankfully I can text my principal during the weekend with crazy ideas like this, so I did to get his approval before I posed the idea to my students. On the Monday after MRA I spoke with my Sophomore Seminar students about the luncheon and the idea of “literacy lockers.” I asked them how they would feel about taping pictures of book covers on their lockers to display the books they love and recommend or the books they’ve read this school year. They really liked the idea, but some were concerned about other students ruining them or being the only student who participated. I assured them that this would be a during class activity and that it wasn’t mandatory. I took a poll and the majority of my students wanted to participate.
That day I had them write down the titles of books they wanted to put on their lockers. After tallying up the different books, I started saving book cover images and putting them on PowerPoint slides. My principal told me to send them to his secretary when I was done so we could print them in color :) One of my students helped cut some of the pictures after school, and during the Friday we did this in class my first group of Sophomore Seminar students helped cut the rest and organize them while other students went in the hall to tape them to their lockers. The covers have been on their lockers for a few days now and none of them have been ruined by other students (that I know of). I’m going to present this idea to my YA Lit I and II classes to see if they’d like to participate. Although this time I might limit the amount of book covers they choose because we used quite a bit of paper… Or I’ll just make the book covers smaller.
After taping their covers, my students came back in the room telling me how much they liked the way it looks. I hope more students will like this idea and want to do it as well. Maybe some of the other teachers in my department will present the idea to their students. Ultimately, I hope these literacy lockers will spark discussion amongst the students in the hall. It’s my hope that a friend of one of my students will see one of the book covers and ask about the book(s) and if he/she should read it. I’m hoping more of my boys in class will want to do this now because I’ve only had one boy participate so far. William Brozo was at MRA and spoke about the importance of every school being proud of its reading culture and making it obvious throughout the school. This is a small step in that direction, but it’s one that I hope will grow.
I took some pictures of my students’ lockers to share with you. I realized while putting this post together that I forgot a few of their lockers, so I’ll have to go back and take pictures of those so those students don’t feel left out. Some of my students share lockers, so I had to make the covers smaller so they could all fit. Also, I apologize about some of the blurry pictures. The lighting is poor in our hallway, so I didn’t realize the pictures were blurry when I took them. I really wish their lockers weren’t orange because I think the covers would stand out much better if they were gray.
Allie & Brandi’s lockers, Ana’s locker, and Ariana’s locker (she spread her covers over to her boyfriend’s locker ):
Brooke H’s locker, Emma & Lindsey’s lockers, and Hallie’s locker:
Hannah B’s locker, Jenna’s locker, and Kaelyn & Hannah M’s locker and Kara’s locker:
Katie’s locker, Madi’s locker, and Megan & Marissa’s locker next to Morgan T’s locker:
Morgan F’s and Shaylyn’s lockers:
Trista’s and Tim’s lockers: