Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sorry, Not Sorry

I should be grading, but to steal a line from my students, I'm sorry but not sorry.

I woke up to an inch an hour, snow falling in big fat flakes, coating our neighborhood in a downy blanket of white. It is quiet. There are 892 school closings in our area. Everyone is snuggled inside. And this would be the perfect time to pull up a few student essays, except this happened:
My kindergartener has loved this week, which kicked off with Read Across America day. Each day he has bounded off the school bus with a new story and a new connection to Dr. Seuss. Today was supposed to be crazy hair day at school, and he has had a plan for his hair since Monday. When he woke to find that school was cancelled due to snow, his lip jutted out and tears hovered on his lashes. He loves school. We don't use the word "hate" to describe things in our house, so you know it's serious when he declares, "I hate snow days!"  But within a few minutes, he's had a change of heart. He's convinced his younger brother to dress up with him, to spend the day dressed as Thing 1 and Thing 2. 

Breakfast is barely cleared from the table when my two boys get to work. They dig a cardboard box out the recycling and use crayons to make it red. They enlist me to use hair chalk to turn their hair blue. Suddenly Thing 1 and Thing 2 are bounding around our living room, bouncing out of their box, begging me to chase them, to try to lock them back into their chest like the Cat in the Hat tries to do. My boys are excited about bringing their books to life.

I want my high school readers to feel this excited. Okay, so my 15 and 16 year old readers are likely not going to come to school dressed as Tris from Divergent or Miles from Looking for Alaska. However, I want them to bring their enthusiasm for stories into our classroom, and for some, I want to help them rediscover that enthusiasm for reading. Somewhere between kindergarten and tenth grade, many of my students lost the love of being enveloped in a good story. I want to build a learning community that is excited to share their book recommendations. To do that, I need to open up space for students to choose their own books, discuss their good finds, to play with books.

But building this love of reading is not really something that can be tested, nor would I want to. So, in addition to not being all that sorry that I'm not spending my snow day grading in order to play Cat in the Hat with my boys, I'm also not at all sorry that I open up time for students to talk about books instead of spending time testing them on what they've read. I don't do plot tests or reading checks. It is wasted time. Talking about books is not wasted time. Exactly the opposite. I'm building life-long readers. So sorry, not sorry. 

 

7 comments:

Leigh Anne Eck said...

I love everything about this post - your snow day leading into your kids' love of books leading into the love (or lack of) reading for your high school students. Your "Things" are adorable and I hate it for him that he missed such a special time at school. I teach middle school and it is so hard to instill that love of reading. Though I will die trying! Great slice today!

Anonymous said...

What cute "Things" you have.

As a high school teacher, I know exactly where you're coming from. I've been on a mission to combat the "Where the Love of Reading Goes to Die" label that high school often gets. I religiously give at least 10 minutes of class time every day for choice reading. There are no logs, no projects, nothing. Just read. I have found that the talking comes naturally if they don't have to "do" reading. Even after they leave my room, kids come back to books.

Jill Derosa said...

I love this post as both a mother and a teacher of third grade. It is always so refreshing to listen to stories of children being creative while connecting to literature plus your kids are adorable. In terms of teaching, I always say that my job as a third grade teacher has one underlying goal and that is to create life long readers and writers. I truly believe that no test can measure the impact my teaching has on my students life especially the type of readers and writers they will be in the future.

elsie said...

Why is this a battle? Who has sucked the life out of books? I say, we need to squash those people like a bug.
What cute Things you have. A day well spent!

Kathleen Sokolowski said...

What a great post! Your little guys are precious! I taught kindergarten for 10 years and always made a big deal out of Dr. Seuss' birthday- "Seuss Celebration Week." The kids really loved his books and there were so many fun ways to connect them to other literacy, math, science and social studies ideas. I agree that the enthusiasm for reading seems to lessen as kids get older, which is so sad. I teach third grade now and feel like my students are not very engaged readers, even though they love being read to and discussing stories. You made the right choice! The grading can wait...

Jen Ward said...

Well, now I have another snow day! I wonder what adventures in reading my boys and I will have today!

bj neary said...

Love this post about your boys and your high school students - you have such a passion for reading, writing, learning- you shine with it and your students are the better for having you as their teacher.

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