written by Shannon Horton, DMS Librarian and Collaborative Teacher
More and more I notice students looking and finding an “easy button” when it comes to independent reading. They choose graphic novels because the pictures help them enter the story quickly, they choose realistic fiction about characters and places that are familiar to them, and they often pick up books they’ve read before. That’s not all bad, don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of graphic novels, books that reflect my own life, and even books written well below my abilities, BUT I also push myself from time to time and reap enormous benefits.
What methods have you found to push students in a direction that will get them out of their reading comfort zone? Here are a few ideas to get us started:
READ A CHAPTER ALOUD
Read a chapter, or a few chapters, to hook students and help them with the work of getting into a book. List the books in your classroom or on Canvas for student reference. (So many of you have done this as teachers, and I’ve seen the positive results in the library.)
CONNECT WITH PEERS
Make reading social. How can students talk about and recommend books to other students? This is satisfying for readers and can also hook new readers on books they wouldn’t naturally pick up. Could students be given a choice in how to share the books they love with their classmates? In Canvas start a discussion so that students can add books they recommend by attaching files, such as a picture with their book or a short video.
ENCOURAGE NEW DIRECTION
Assign an occasional parameter to their Independent Reading that requires them to reach in a new direction. Gene Yang, author and recently appointed National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, has a fabulous idea for teachers and students alike. His challenge is called Reading Without Walls, and I think it’s just what this world needs. Could we as teachers take the challenge? Could students take the challenge and reflect on their experience? Here’s what I picture: teachers reading graphic novels, such as the ones written by Gene Yang, while students pick up a book about a life lived in a way they have no reference for.
Self-selected, independent reading is key to developing readers. Give them choice! Praise and show interest in their choices! Let them be “lazy” and read something below their abilities. And, every now and again, find creative ways to push them.
Gene Yang, pictured above, has been chosen for a 2016
MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, so he must
know what he’s talking about. (Photo Credit)
P.S. If you want one of the posters that outlines the reading challenge, just let me know. I see it as a great way to advertise on your door how you’ve accepted the challenge yourself or to post in your room for students. I made it using http://www.canva.com/, my favorite tool for making posters and signs.
Written by DMS Principal Leona Hoth
Visit Part 1 by clicking here.
I attended some great sessions at the conference. I’d like to share some of the information that was discussed.
Building for Middle Level Success: Advisory and Advocacy Programs
Engaging, Motivating, and Leading Young Adolescents!
Leading and Supporting the Mental Health and Wellness of Young Adolescents
Written by DMS Principal Leona Hoth
Energize Your Middle School Leadership—March 10th and 11th
(click here for conference information and handouts)
What a great conference! I attended sessions on data, advisory, transitions (4th to 5th grade), student engagement, and mental health (our anonymous safe school site was a hit with the entire session’s participants). I’m eager to share some tidbits from each session, but first I want to share some expressions and tips that were shared from the AMLE presenters…some are too fun!
Hope there’s something here that you can use in your classroom or discuss with your team. Holler if you’d like more info on any of the above…Stay tuned for more…Leona
Written by Sarah Nowack, DMS 5th Grade Teacher
I just finished reading a book that I want to tell you all about. To be fair, it is really a parenting book, but anyone that works with pre-teens/teens should really read it! With an original copyright of 1981 (yikes, I wasn’t even yet a teen), it isn’t a new book, but the information is still very relevant (maybe some of you have already read this?): How to Really Love your Teen by Dr. Ross Campbell, MD.
Dr. Campbell’s writing is very easy to read; it feels as though you are having a casual conversation with him about your respective children.
Why should you read this book? Well, while we are teachers of these children, not their parents, we do spend 8 hours a day with them, and we all know that if a child feels safe and cared for (loved) he/she is much more open to learning (and willing to work for us). According to Dr. Campbell, evidence indicates that the home has the strongest influence in determining how happy, secure, & stable a child is. Since we know that many of our DMS students have “rough” home lives, it may be up to us to provide the loving structure and support that they need.
A first thought: teens are children in transition. They are not yet adults, yet we tend to treat them like junior adults; they are still children. Despite their apathetic attitudes, obnoxious behaviors, and tendencies to push adults away, teens have very childlike needs such as feeling loved and accepted, being taken care of, and knowing- with certainty- that someone really cares for them.
We (me especially) need to give students “focused attention.” Often we are doing three things at one time; yet when a student wants to tell you something, listen- REALLY LISTEN. Give them eye contact, stop what you were doing, and give them your focused attention.
Dr. Campbell also addresses teenage anger. Anger is normal for everyone; the problem lies in how to manage and deal with anger. Our kids don’t instinctively know how to solve algebraic expressions or write well-constructed informational reports- we teach them. So guess what? Teens need to be taught how to understand their anger and then how to manage it and express.
Chapter 9 could be the most important for us as educators: Adolescent Depression. There are many levels of severity of depression, but we need to learn to recognize the array of symptoms, which alone do not indicate depression, but combined could be a sign of a child who is truly suffering. Shortened attention span, daydreaming, poor grades, boredom, somatic depression, and withdrawal are all signs of mild to increasing depression in adolescents.
While the topic of depression is pretty heavy, the book, How to Really Love Your Teen, is an easy read that is an excellent resource for all teachers of pre-teens/teens. I highly suggest it!
I am willing to loan out my copy; let me know if you would like to borrow it.
A blog dedicated to discussing instructional practices and reflecting on why we do what we do.
Blogs We Follow
(past posts in list format)