Today I had one of the best experiences I’ve had since I started teaching 6th grade. This morning I took my reading class on an impromptu trip to the library. Before we went, I told them they could bring their book with them to read or they could use the last minute opportunity to browse the stacks and check-out books. Now, typically what happens with my 6th graders is we’ll go to the library, and everyone races to the section of the stacks where the Guiness Book of World Records books are located. Then they begin to argue over who’s going to get to look at the Guiness Books this time, and the kids who don’t make the cut go find a place to do the “fake read”, which I’m sure we’ve all observed at some point in our teaching career.
Well, I am so EXCITED to tell you that today not a single kid went hunting for the Guiness Books. They all made a beeline to the fiction section, looking for new books to add to their “To Read” list. They actually used the librarian and me as a resource! And not just one or two kids were doing this, but all of them! They were sharing books with each other, recommending titles that they enjoyed. I just couldn’t believe what I heard and saw. It really made my day!
So what’s different this year than the other three years I’ve taught 6th grade? I have put a tremendous amount of time into modeling and teaching the kids how to find good books. I have bookshared with them almost every day since school began. I have carved out the time to make sure that I am helping kids find the best books for them. Today I saw that my focus in this area is really paying off. Changing my way of teaching reading has taken a lot of time and effort on my part so far this year, but I must say that today was a heck of a reward for all the hard work!