Sometimes, in teaching, you just need a day. You know what I’m talking about, right? You have all of these beautifully planned lessons, but there are always scraps and pieces that don’t seem to quite fit perfectly into any single day. Sometimes these tiny scraps need to get done, but cannot be just tossed anywhere for fear of interrupting that creative flow. Creativity ebbs and flows, and so should lesson plans.
It was the week before Thanksgiving and I needed a little of that ebb, so I planned a station day. We began the day just like any other, with SSR followed by writing in our notebooks. The rest of the period was intended to be spent tying up loose ends. Here’s what I had on the docket:
- Find a reading quote from the pile that speaks to you. Glue in notebook and “write-around.”
- Recommend titles for the Library of Paxsonia (classroom library). Enter titles in the Google Form along with why this book stuck out to you.
- Confer with Mrs. P./Reading Reflection: Mrs. P. will call you up individually. Complete the reading reflection as you wait.
- Writing Folders: Find graded work and organize neatly in your writing folder.
- Reading Accomplishment Poster and Photo Booth: Make a page-sized poster detailing your accomplishment and growth as a reader this semester. What makes you proud?
- Take a photo at the photo booth and send it to Mrs. P. for our Thank You Package.
As I began to circulate and chat with students, the conversations I heard were incredible.
Student 1: I’ve read an entire book for the first time in 4 years!
Student 2: I finally found a book I didn’t have to lie about reading.
Student 3: I finished a book in one weekend and asked for another one.
The day went on, and the students, of course, needed a bit of clarification.
Student: Mrs. Pax, if I haven’t finished a book, but I’m close, can I put that I finished a whole book?
Me: Remember, not what are you GOING to accomplish, but what HAVE YOU accomplished?
Student: Okay, can I put that I’m not finished yet, but can’t wait to get to the end?
Me: There you go!
Here are a few more of my favorites:
“I finished one and a half books in one semester!” -Sydney
“This is the first time I’ve finished a book and actually enjoyed it. Thank you for such amazing books to read!” -Lacey
“I’ve finished one book in this semester and I’m proud!” -Dipo
“I finally finished the last three pages of a book.” -Edgar
“5 books down!” -Lauryn
“Mrs. Paxson helped me rediscover my love for reading.” -Zoe
In developing readers, it’s absolutely essential to remind them that it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. Becoming a reader is a lifelong pursuit–as is becoming a writer, a leader, or someone who stands up for what she believes, for that matter.
Unfortunately, there’s no TEK or Common Core Standard that says: Students will be able to celebrate the seemingly small accomplishments on the journey to becoming a better reader or writer, and recognize them as the big stinkin’ deals they truly are. (Disclaimer: If I wrote Standards, they’d have a bit more sass and spice.)
If we have to take a break from the “real stuff” to recognize the REAL STUFF–our growth as readers and learners–so be it.
This day turned out to be one of the most productive in all the ways that are not reflected in our daily objectives, but that are essential to building a reading culture in the classroom.
Jessica Paxson is an English IV and Creative Writing teacher in Arlington, TX. She also attempts to grapple with life and all of its complexities and hilarities over at www.jessicajordana.com. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @jessjordana.