WOW, what a start to the new school year! I have been in a remote learning environment for a week and one thing is for certain, CHILDREN LOVE TO BE READ TO, EVEN IN A GOOGLE MEET. I have spent a great deal of time pondering how to launch reader’s and writer’s workshops this year. I have always known that picture books would have to play an important role in the launch, more now than ever before. Recording myself reading a book and finding recordings of authors reading their work is important, but it is even more important for the students to see me HOLD a book, turn the pages and discuss my thinking out loud. They need to see me as a reader!
As part of this year’s launch to reader’s and writers’ workshops, we discussed how people, “read like writers and write like readers.” I asked students to think about the pictures that were created in their minds as I read aloud Prairie Days by Patricia Maclachlan, illustrated by Micha Archer. After reading, I asked the students to draw me a picture of the image in their notebooks. All of the pictures were so different, but each captured the essence of the story. I learned so much about my readers; they are thoughtful souls who think deeply and they are great artists.
Finally, I asked the students to take a picture of the drawing with their Chrome book, find the picture in their Drive folder, and email it to me as an attachment. Not all of the pictures are of a high quality and the students still need to practice taking GOOD pictures, but they DID IT! They are growing as readers and writers AND incorporating a level of technological skill that I have never seen in fall fourth graders before.
There is so much involved in starting a new school year, regardless of whether it is virtual or traditional as we knew it. Launching reader’s and writers’ workshops is a constant, as is reading to children. Fourth graders love to be read to, they love to draw and they love a variety of genres, especially in picture books. Remote or in person, it is reassuring and comforting to know that some things never change about the start of a new school year, and for that I am grateful.