The connection between reading and writing has become so much more powerful in my classroom since I started promoting the "Author's Coat". Motivating kids to see themselves as writers is so much fun! I purchased several doctor's lab coats and had them embroidered with a "Prescription to Read" logo. I explain to my students at the start of the year that the author's coat is worn by anyone who writes a book and would like to share it with the class! Over the past 8 years I have been able to collect autographs from many of my favorite authors... Patricia Polacco, Kevin Henkes, Jane O'Conner, Jerry Spinelli, and lots more! The kids are impressed by the coat and are eager to earn the privilege of wearing it. When kids bring in their stapled pages and rough draft stories, I applaud their effort and celebrate their success as an aspiring author. The kids then get to wear the "Author's Coat", sit in our special chair and read their story to the class. I also ask a classmate to videotape their peer which helps me track writing and reading progress over the year. Kids love using our iPad to record their peers and they also love knowing they are being recorded. This simple idea takes very little class time since kids are writing many of their "books" at home. Every student in my class publishes a hard cover book of their own (we love www.barebooks.com!) and by the end of the year EVERY student will have had a chance to wear the author's coat. If you don't have the opportunity to collect autographs from professional authors, another idea is to have student authors sign the coat when they share their very first book. By the end of the year, the Author's Coat will become a lovely keepsake! Interested in ordering your own Author's Coat? Just click on any of the Author's Coat photos to visit my TpT store!
The Children's Literature Network is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. The CLN website features amazing resources, books, and authors. I especially love the book trailers and author videos. Every February CLN hosts an exciting event called "Books for Breakfast". Guests at each table are delighted to dine with one of the featured authors who join them for the entire morning. Each author spends a few minutes addressing the whole crowd, tons of door prizes are given away and 5 literacy enthusiasts share their 5 favorite titles in 5 minutes. I was honored to be invited to participate in this year's Books for Breakfast event as one of the 5X5 Book Talkers! Bringing the best of children's literature into my classroom is one of the most important things I do to promote high levels of literacy learning with my students. CLN helps me accomplish this goal. Click on the first photo below to see all of the 5X5 book titles! Click on the CLN logo to check out CLN's website. You can also "like" CLN on facebook! Happy Reading!
Mark Twain once said “The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them”. As a 1st grade teacher I know one of the most important jobs I have is to help kids learn HOW to read. However, I know my job is not complete unless I have also instilled a desire to WANT to read. Motivation is a huge component of learning how to read. While the National Reading Panel identified five essential pillars of reading instruction: phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, I believe (as do many others), that the 6th (overlooked) pillar is motivation.
The NIFTY FIFTY BOOK CLUB is designed to increase the amount of time kids read at home, improve parent partnerships and most importantly, encourage kids to discover the joy of reading. This at-home reading program has been a HUGE success with 1st graders at my school. I introduced it at the end of September and by the end of December ALL but 3 out of 45 first graders had become NIFTY FIFTY Reading Club members! Several students reached the DOUBLE DIAMOND level (250 books) and most had reached the GOLD level (150 books). I have promoted the club by offering three popular rewards; lunch with the teacher (most students choose this!), read to the principal or choose a free book. I also mention the club and its newest members every week in our communication note as well as in our bi-monthly newsletter. I have NEVER had this much at-home reading happening in all of my 20+ years of teaching! I should mention I also send home “just-right” books in a bag with kids every Wednesday and Friday (this is in addition to library books which also go home on a regular basis).
Popular children’s author Rosemary Wells points out that ensuring children do not become “at-risk” but rather “privileged” readers, costs just 20 minutes a day, a parent’s lap and a library card. Wells also states that “Reading to your little one is just like putting gold coins in the bank. It will pay you back tenfold. Your daughter will learn, and imagine, and be strong in herself. Your son will thrive, and give back your love forever.” What more could a parent or teacher want for their children and students? Visit www.rosemarywells.com for a copy of the “Read to Your Bunny” and “Children at Risk” speeches.
Click here to check out my "Nifty Fifty Reading Club" packet!
Sparking student interest in writing is one of my favorite challenges. I've found that once students discover something that is meaningful and has a personal connection, they have an easier time writing over extended periods of time about it. This week I will be celebrating 12-12-12 with students by offering "A Dozen Delightful Writing Prompts". Students will keep the booklet in their writing folders so they can use the completed lists for ideas when we work on writing narratives and the common core standards of planning, revising, editing, rewriting and publishing. Click on any of the photos below to download the file from my TpT store!