Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reflections

I sat for a while trying to determine an appropriate title for this particular blog post.  I thought about end of year reflections provided by our AMAZING students but then also thought about the reflections my co-teacher and I had after an unforgettable year.  It's nearly impossible to separate the two, so I won't.

As some may be aware, I'm currently working on my Educational Specialist degree in Instructional Technology.  That being said, my co-teacher and I moved our four desktop computers OUT of our classroom before the year began.  One may think that this was counter-intuitive to my field of study, however four desktop computers in a room of 28 students is counter-intuitive.  At the time, I didn't know the data, research, or ratios necessary for devices in a classroom to be effective.  I did know that four computers weren't the answer.

So, implementing the concept of "We'll apologize later if necessary," we moved the computers into the spare room next door and made way for.......more bookshelves!

Our classroom consisted of eight bookshelves that were fully stocked with books that would later be loved, hugged, and passed along.  They were full of characters who would become friends and enemies and stories who would make us laugh and cry.

We are frequently asked how our students are so engaged in reading throughout the school year.  Well, from the first minute our students walk into the classroom, they notice what is important to us.  They will spend the year surrounded not only by literature but by conversations about literature as well.  At our yearly open house known as Sneak-A-Peak, we frequently hear comments such as "Wow, look at all the books" and "I know I'll love to read in this room."

We must give our students time to read.  We must support them with appropriate strategies and we must know what strategies may be appropriate based on our conversations with them.  We must surround them with literature with which they can connect (#weneeddiversebooks).  We must be readers ourselves and we must lead the way.  Our students will follow.

As I close, I reflect upon a few student comments as the year came to a close.  I am all for strong Media Centers in our schools, but was reaffirmed by the power of the classroom library when Alexis said, "We really didn't need to use the Media Center too much because we had so many amazing books in here (the classroom) every day."

Perhaps my favorite student quote of all-time came from Janaya, who was reflecting upon the choices we gave our students during independent reading when she said, "Thank you for letting us be us."

Without a strong classroom library, loving books ourselves, and giving our students both time to read and choices as to what they read, that genuine, heartfelt thank you doesn't sound quite the same.

Alexis and Janaya, and the other 26 incredible students in room 504, thank YOU!


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