Monday, March 5, 2012

We were in a rut...

My personal reading had slowed down.  Making time for my reading life was becoming nonexistent.  A few weeks ago I was hurrying to bed to read a few chapters or reading countless blogs after my own kids had gone to bed.  But now my head was going straight to the pillow with thoughts of the branches of government, the water cycle, and decimals on my mind.  I had put reading to the side and I felt like something was missing.

I also felt like something was missing in my classroom too.  Almost three-fourths through the year, my students now have reading workshop down to a tee.  We have come to know ourselves as readers, we have "next stacks" waiting, we know many ideas about other readers in our room,  but our routine had become just that...a routine.  My students have read more books this quarter than previous quarters.  Their stamina for reading workshop could go all day, but I felt like something was missing...

So what do you do when you are in a reading rut?  Well..I sat back and watched over several days.  What I noticed were students sticking to their next stack of books, many of the same titles were in the hands of different readers (just being passed around), not as much "buzz" during their reading, my share time had been reduced to five minutes, and several baskets in the library had been untouched for a while.  Something just did not feel right so...

I tried several things over the last few weeks. By the end of last week I felt that reading workshop had been rejuvenated.  And the perk...my personal reading life had too.  I had gone back to what I had always known, always done, but stopped making time for.

1.  Book trailers-  I showed several book trailers for books that were in the "lost but not forgotten" baskets of our classroom library.
2.  Read- We had a "drop everything and read" moment.  I gave them an uninterrupted amount of time to just read.  Time to finish the book they were in, time to look for new books, time to start a book and get in deep.  Many students told me how it was "just what they needed"...especially when you can wear pajamas and bring in a sleeping bag.
3.  Donate- Our school encouraged students to donate gently loved books to Nationwide Children's Hospital (a schoolwide community project initiated by one of my teammates).  The students showed so much enthusiasm about their reading lives as they brought in books to donate, and also showed so much passion for particular titles that they were not ready to part with.
4.  Mini-lessons-  Mini-lessons on "putting books on pause" because you can't wait to read a new book from the book fair and how to come back to a book you have left for a while.
5. Time-  I made time.  I gave myself permission to go to bed early and just read (even if a pile of papers went ungraded).
6.  Blogging- I reached out to the blogging world.  I spent time looking for new blogs that would encourage myself and my students to look at reading "a little" different through new titles and reading about other's reading lives.

So it was just a rut.  I had fallen victim to no snow days (seriously...no snow in Ohio??), the pressures of getting in a deep curriculum, and I neglected to make time for the one thing that matters most to me.

Moral:   Accept the things I cannot change, have the courage to change the things I can, and to have the wisdom to know the difference between the two.

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