One of the things that has been killing me about teaching online is that I can’t have my class do their 15 minutes of daily independent reading at the beginning of ELA class, nor meet for one-on-one reading conferences during that time. Last year, students read independently every day and I was able to use that time to observe their reading habits, see the ones who were struggling to find books that were at their level and interesting to them, and step in to suggest books and work on specific reading strategies with them.
It was AWESOME.
I saw results. So did the kids, and I MISS IT.
Though it’s just plain blahh-inducing that I can’t do that right now, I’m trying something right now that might help with that. I can’t take complete credit for the idea; I get super ideas from talking with the people in my life.
As I may have mentioned, I reached my numerical goal for reading books a couple of weeks ago. Since I’ve been updating my class on my progress since the beginning of the year, I told my students that I had met my goal. Rather than the exclamations of congratulations I was expecting, I heard a chorus of:
“Now you need to read 200 books!”
Forget Super Teacher or Super Woman. They seem to think I am Super Reader. When I replied that, mathematically it would not make sense for me to be able to read one hundred books in 1.5 months when it took me 10.5 months to read my first hundred, I heard:
“Okay, then 150!”
How can a person say no to that?
But I countered with “I’ll keep reading, but YOU all need to be reading now! It’s your turn!”
Later that evening, my family helped me cook up a reading challenge to take us until Christmas break:
Collectively, can the class read more books than I have read all year?
I know…I gave myself a 10.5 month head start. I think that’s plenty fair, considering it’s one of me against all of them, and I read longer books than they do. (Although I’m tempted to read The Twits by Roald Dahl, because that one is super short.)
In any case, several of my kiddos who aren’t normally into reading are actually getting excited about this so far. They seem to have just needed a little friendly competition to help them out. One mom told me during conferences that she was that way as a kid too. Bring it on, then!
- Every Wednesday, upload a photo of your list of books, or write the titles in the private comments on the assignment in Google Classroom.
- Try to find “right fit” books – don’t just read super easy stuff.
- Any book you read counts, even if it’s a short book on Epic!; audiobooks count, too.
- It has to be a book you’ve finished that week. (You can’t count books you read back in September or October!)
If the class wins, and if the student chose to participate at some point, they get to use a homework pass on an ELA assignment after Christmas break (exclusions apply on which assignment they can use it for).
After the first week, the score is:
I fully expect my class to beat me. Epic! books are not long, after all.
But, as I’ve told others, even if they win, I win – because that means they’ve been reading! And since the best way to get better at reading is to read, we all win whenever they read. In any way possible.
If this goes well, I already have some ideas for additional monthly reading challenges I can do after Christmas break:
- Upper elementary teachers vs. students
- Elementary teachers vs. upper elementary students
- ____ number of books that are more than 100 pages
- A numerical goal of books in _____ genre (historical fiction, fantasy, informational science, etc.)
The last one could be used in different iterations for multiple months.
What ideas do you have for some friendly competition?
Even if you’re not a teacher, I bet you have some good ideas, and I’d love to hear them.
I’ll keep you updated on our progress!
Happy reading 🙂