Remember last week, when I was waiting for spring?
Yup. Still waiting.
Meanwhile, it’s snowing outside my classroom window, and let me tell you, my students are (brace yourself for sarcasm) delighted. Not only is it a Monday, but it’s the first day back from break and it’s November-esque gloomy outside. Add snow to the mix and I’m staring down an epidemic of crippling apathy.
Needless to say, we have our work cut out for us today.
And yet…I have hope.
Simrah walked into last period with a smile and said, “Ah…Home.” She sat down, opened a book, and started reading. I almost cried.
It reminded me first and foremost how lucky I am to work with such wonderful students every day. In addition, it reminded me that an overwhelming number of students value the choice a readers workshop model affords. It reminded me too that most students value the time we devote to that reading every class period and many have even said they look forward to it.
And really, it comes down to value. Valuing our students, their insight, their commitment, their time, and their drive. As the article “The Top Five Reasons We Love Giving Students Choice in Reading”from English Leadership Quarterly suggests, students feel valued when given the choice to read what interests them, and in turn, as we talk with our students about texts they have enthusiastically read, the relationship between teacher and student deepens as does their connections to what they read. I referenced the above article in a previous post and Amy and Shana just spoke beautifully about choice in their workshop through EdCollabGathering this weekend. In short, choice empowers students. Who couldn’t use a little empowerment as third quarter crawls into fourth? My snow weary kids certainly could.
So, I felt it necessary to offer some encouragement and praise to my students to welcome them back from break and push us forward with our independent reading. It came in the form of a super quick formative that I was able to turn around within the same class period, providing feedback to each and every student and a quick snapshot for me to move our conferences forward purposefully in the coming weeks.
I found students that I suspected needed a push, and I was able to request that they come see me during our resource period. I found students that crushed their reading goals over break, their reflections brimming with pride, and I was able to congratulate them and encourage them to keep up the great work. I found students struggling to settle on a book, and I was able to list a few recommendations.
The prompt was simple: Give me a snapshot of your current independent reading life. What are you reading? How is it going? What do you need from me to help you be successful?
Below, you’ll see a few samples from students of varying abilities, interests, and commitments to independent reading. I am encouraged to see a number of students pushing themselves to meet the reading goals we are setting in class and so happy to be able to quickly intervene with those that need encouragement.
Bottom line: I was able to connect with each and every one of my students in only about ten minutes time. That is a huge win for the first day back from break. Bring on fourth quarter!
What are the quick formatives you use to provide feedback to and motivate students? Please leave your comments below!