S'More From the AP

Week Ending January 15, 2016

Motivating Students-By Mrs. Perkins!

In a classroom not so far, far, away….


A New Hope

Perhaps it was the cheers of the crowd, the massive size of the speedway, or simply the orange t-shirts. Whatever the reason, THAT DAY my second graders embraced the Speeding to Read challenge and vowed to win!


They were hot. They were sweaty. Those kids were fired up, amped up, and ready to make reading history as we journeyed by school bus back to Flower Mound from the Texas Motor Speedway.


I was hot and sweaty and yearning for bottled water and AC. However, seeing my second graders so excited about a reading program was promising. Don’t we all as educators strive to produce and create confident, book loving students? Read, read, and read some more has been my mantra for years. If this was going to encourage my students to read more, then count me in!


The Empire Strikes Back

So what happened? At the beginning things were O.K., but as weeks turned into months the logs were hit or miss and the reading numbers begin to decline. I knew my class was reading but the logs weren’t showing their efforts. The students were not recording what they read! I also was struggling with record keeping. We even had a few students go to the dark side and record false totals. Sigh. The “new” had worn off and we needed an intervention. Help me Obi Wan? It was clear that I needed to become more involved and join the force.


The Return of the Jedi

So, we established a routine and devised a plan. All logs had a special place in their binders. Reading logs were collected at a set time each week. I sent home a new log every Monday in their folder. I kept a supply of more logs on the back table at all times. During snack, students were encouraged to go to the library to check out additional books. We established times to record reading. We finally had a system.


We shared totals and praised all numbers. We encouraged each other. But most of all, we talked it up! We found a connection. I contacted parents for help with signing the logs. I sent weekly reminders and the students wrote notes to help them remember too.


And then…. Jeffrey happened. Our very own Luke Skywalker emerged. Jeffrey was reading everything he could get his hands on and his totals were astounding! Once things clicked for him the other students caught on. We had our inspiration! The enthusiasm spread and with it, some friendly competition among the students.


The Force Awakens

So here we are. Jeffrey won a trophy last week, and the entire class was recognized as well. They’re feeling accomplished and proud. I know it’s going to take continued support and encouragement as we head into the final stretch. But you know the best part of all? The students are reading!

The Principal Ponders

I don’t want to whisper, I want to SHOUT! I LOVE TO READ! I am pretty sure my love of reading was instilled in me by my parents, whom I always saw reading something when I was growing up. I can have 2, 3 maybe 4 books going at a time; however, I am typically a “1 book at a time kind of girl.”


When I was teaching and even now in my conversations with students, I still cringe when I hear students say they hate to read. How is that even possible?? According to Donalyn Miller, the book whisperer, educators must foster the development of lifelong reading habits. It is imperative that we model, explicitly teach and reflect on the development of our students’ lifelong, fervent, or as Miller says, “wild,” reading behaviors. Here are 5 habits of “wild readers” that Miller believes translates well into classroom practice:


1. Dedicate Time to Reading – Wild readers spend a significant amount of time reading, in spite of their busy schedules. They take advantage of any down time and use it to read!

In the classroom:

· Books to Go – encourage students to have a book with them everywhere they go so they can read when they finish work or waiting for the bus.

· Reading Itinerary – have students keep an itinerary for one week, recording places in the classroom and school where they are able to read and for how long. This will help students recognize where their preferences are about where and when they read, as well as the barriers that may prevent them from reading.


2. Successfully Self-Select – Wild readers are confident when choosing books to read and can successfully choose books that meet their interests and reading abilities.

In the classroom:

· Preview Stacks – collect several books at a student’s reading level and interests and have them select from these.

· Selection Reflections – have students reflect on their book selections with pre-generated questions such as:

Ø How did you find out about the books that you like to read?

Ø When you see a book, how do you decide whether you want to read it?

Ø Do you ever abandon a book? Why or why not?


3. Share Books with Others – Wild readers like talking about books just as much as reading them. Children read more when they see other people reading.

In the classroom:

· Seating Preferences – seat students with common reading interests together. They can suggest titles and participate in book discussions.

· Reading Graffiti – Use butcher paper to have students write book titles and quotes to serve as book endorsements.


4. Have Reading Plans - You know a wild reader when you see them. They’re the first grab the new book by the hottest author and they can’t wait to fill out the latest book order form at school. Wild readers always plan to read beyond their current book. They anticipate new books by favorite authors or the next installment in a favorite series. Reading is habitual for them, not a casual, every-now-and-then endeavor.

In the classroom:

Ø Super Series – promote series, which become a reading plan for those students who have trouble keeping up the motivation to read. Reading a series helps students develop confidence and comprehension because they have background knowledge upon which to build.

Ø Set A Challenge –have students set up a plan to push themselves – maybe by reading a certain number of Newberry or Bluebonnet books.


5. Validate and Expand - Yes, children need to read widely and experience a variety of texts. But wild readers possess strong ­preferences in the books they prefer and gravitate toward specific genres, topics, and authors. Validate their choices while also pushing them to step outside the box.

In the classroom:

Ø Reading Preferences – encourage students to try new books by exploring different genres.

Ø Genre Boost – Study the genres that students avoid and find high-quality books of that genre to share and use as mentor texts.

Students need inspiration and the opportunity to practice to develop the habits to become wild readers. We must ask ourselves everyday what we have taught our students about reading that they can transfer and apply to other areas in their lives. Our goal is to cultivate a lifelong love of reading that students will sustain long after they leave our classrooms.


Students need inspiration and the opportunity to practice to develop the habits to become wild readers. We must ask ourselves everyday what we have taught our students about reading that they can transfer and apply to other areas in their lives. Our goal is to cultivate a lifelong love of reading that students will sustain long after they leave our classrooms

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