A Teacher’s Thoughts:
I just finished the oddest school year in my 25 years of teaching and that’s saying a lot. My students and I made heart shapes with our fingers toward the camera and promised to say “See you soon” instead of goodbye. Then I pressed, “End meeting for all” and my school year was over.
We had a meaningful last day. We drew sloths and then went on a virtual field trip to the zoo. I made a Kahoot where all the questions were about my students like, “What is the name of Malia’s cat who Zoomed with us this year?” with the choices of “Simmer,” “Semolina,” “Simone” or “Simon.” It was Simon, if you were wondering. I played the slideshow of all the pictures I’d taken throughout the school year. A few kids cried. One said, “I didn’t even remember what the inside of our classroom looked like,” and we all silently pondered that and nodded. Then the cherry on top was talking about Summer Reading.
I told my students how I challenged myself to read a book a day during summer.
“Sometimes that’s a picture book, sometimes that’s a graphic novel and sometimes that’s a chapter book,” I explained.
Because they will all have their Chromebooks with them this summer, I promised to post a new book talk each Tuesday on Google Classroom (knowing I can schedule posts when I’m on vacation) and keep them informed of how I’m doing and what I’m reading.
“The cool part is I want to share my love of books with you! All you have to do is comment and I will choose one winner each week and send you the book through the mail.”
I gave them a few minutes to go into our virtual classroom and watch this video of me booktalking Noise by Kathleen Raymundo. This slim graphic novel features a heartwarming duo of Cathryn a seventh-grade girl and Tyler a fourth-grade boy. I love the way the author plays with the theme of “Noise.” At first Cathryn is trying to block out the noise of the school bus with her headphones. Then Tyler generates noise by asking her for things that seem so annoying. After saying something unkind to get him to stop bothering her, she tunes into her inner “noise,” and realizes she needs to make amends. Like I say in the book talk, “That’s all I’ll say, no spoilers.”
These are some of the comments my students wrote to enter into our summer reading contest.
H wrote, “I love books like this. I know I can read it fast, but I still want to read what happens. I’m so curious now!”
S wrote, “I like this book because you said it was shorter. Sometimes I do better with shorter books because I get distracted so I think this one will be just right for me.”
K wrote, “You know how much I like graphic novels like Smile so this a great book for me.”
J wrote, “I would love to win this book because I love to read all books with beautiful art, but I’m going to be happy for anyone who wins.”
This spring, remote learning really worked well for some kids and their families. They got to sleep in more, learn in the comfort of their homes, pace themselves, get snacks when they were hungry and show up for short Zoom meetings that were packed with learning. Of course it didn’t work well for others. Some students felt confused, isolated from their peers and they struggled to be independent. In the same way, I know Mrs. R’s Summer Reading Challenge/Contest won’t work for all, but it may engage some. A few students were relieved they would be able to connect with me virtually from June to August.
After our July blog sabbatical, I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with our Teachers Books Readers community. Happy Summer and SEE YOU SOON!