Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Your Reader and Starting School

The book/gift idea was a hit with my students' parents - I am so excited to see how it goes the first day of school!

I was thinking about the start of school and how kids absolutely BEAM when they come home that first day. They love their teacher, everything is new, the work hasn't set in yet...

it's a great time to have them shed old negative personas and put on new ones. What do I mean? Well, many kids (and adults) have "labels" of themselves as readers - they believe they are a good/bad reader, and that shapes their attitudes every time they pick up a book (or are asked to)

I want kids to come in and feel like THIS IS THE YEAR. Yep, this is the year I believe I am a good reader and I will look at reading time as an opportunity, not a task.

How do we get them there? Focus on the positive. When they cry and whine about having to read at home, praise them for having an opinion, but rather than being negative about reading, let's find a book that enables you to have an opinion of the character and what they are doing.

If you set a timer for five minutes and they only made it one, praise them for the one. "You did it! See, you are a good reader. What was your favorite part in what you read?" Get them to talk, and reset the clock the next time for five, and see if it is even 20 seconds longer.

The other key to the beginning of the year is a new teacher. With every new year, there is hope in each student that they will truly be valued and cherished and this person will help them every step to overcome things that are tough.

I spend a lot of time the first weeks establishing those bonds and making sure that hope grows - one thing I make a point to do the first day of school is to collect a sample of writing from the kids and that night, I read them, taking a highlighter and highlighting my favorite sentence in the piece. I write a post it note explaining why I love that sentence. That's it. No corrections, no other comments. Just a positive. I return them the next day, and guess what? They all want to write the next day, and not only that, but they know their teacher not only believes in, but likes what they do.

Is it hard to find a positive? No, because I am not looking at just the writing, I am looking at an opportunity to compliment the child. Same thing applies to reading. Compliments first...focus on the needs later, after they trust.


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