Just a warning–this post might be lengthy and might be all over the place. I have a lot of ideas and lots of excitement about this month.
If you aren’t aware of this, I started my 7th year of teaching this year in a new district. My new district has a certified media specialist whereas my last district lost ours and decided not to replace her. Working in a district again with a media specialist has been really nice because she and I work together to encourage reading.
I’ve been encouraging my students to read since the beginning of the school year like I usually do. This year my students, my seniors in particular, have responded really well to my efforts. A friend of mine who teaches math in my building approached me about helping her promote literacy in her math class. She’s reading Subjects Matter by Harvey Daniels and wants to incorporate his ideas. I love her enthusiasm, but I also understand how tough it is to get students and teachers alike to see literacy as important outside of an English classroom. This is incredibly disappointing, but it’s also something that I’m trying to conquer because literacy is important in every aspect of school and life. I gave her some ideas to get started and also asked one of my friends, Brian Wyzlic, for ideas as well since he’s promoting literacy in his math classroom.
After talking with my friend about this, I spoke with our media specialist, Rachael, about it. I wanted to know if she had any ideas as well. This sparked a conversation about March is Reading Month because she’s been thinking about how to get the school involved. Perfect timing, right? Rachael and I started brainstorming and came up with a list of ideas. She spent the day talking with a few other teachers in our building to see what they thought. More ideas were added to the list. I can’t really explain how excited I am about this month.
Switching gears for a minute. Earlier in the week I spoke with my principal about my Literacy Lockers idea. I wanted to get my feet wet this year before approaching him about the idea and I wanted to give my students a chance to get used to me and get used to doing so much reading. My principal loves the idea and he loves my reading life door (the picture that inspired me to do this). He asked me how we can get more teachers creating reading life doors and posting what they’re reading outside their classrooms. My wheels started turning and I wasn’t even thinking about March is Reading Month. After a department meeting I approached one of my department members who also teaches social studies. He told me that he was already talking to his class about creating a reading life door and loves the idea! He asked me to send him some tips so he can make his similar in format to mine while putting his own spin on it. I then approached two more department members and their responses were positive. Unfortunately, my students aren’t as excited about creating Literacy Lockers, but I haven’t given up on them. Quite a few of them are participating, but I’d love to have more take part. I think once they see their classmates doing this, and if more teachers have their classes do this, they’ll feel more comfortable about it.
Anyway, the reading life door conversations fit in nicely with my conversation with Rachael about March is Reading Month ideas. She included that idea along with the Literacy Lockers idea in her email to the school inviting everyone to participate. We also invited teachers and students to submit their favorite lines from books so we can create twirly things (a very technical term) to hang from the ceiling of the library with the book cover on one side and the quote on the other. We asked the math department to graph the amount of books read and/or the pages read during the month of March that can be scrolled outside the media center. After reading the Nerdy Book Club post about picture books and illustration mentors, I sent the link to Rachael with the idea that the art teachers could do something similar. Or maybe the art teachers could have students recreate book covers. Rachael sent her invitation email at the end of the day on Friday and she received responses right away. Our teacher who runs the news cast wants to run a “Caught You Reading” feature. I’m going to ask our administrators to create reading life doors. We would love to see the secretaries post what they’re reading on their desks or create a reading life space on the outside of their desks.
This coming week may be ACT/MME week (state testing week), but I couldn’t be more excited about it. I can’t wait to find out what other teachers say in reply to Rachael’s email. I can’t wait to talk to teachers and others about their ideas and help make those ideas happen. I can’t wait to hear what my students think about this.
We’r still coming up with ideas and would love your opinions! I hope everyone is gearing up to read and celebrate March is Reading Month! As these ideas come to fruition, I’ll be posting about this again to update everyone.