"Mommy, is it Christmas? Is Santa coming today?" she asked hopefully.
And I was awake. We are not even out of November yet. How in the world will I explain the concept of month so that she will understand when in her mind everything happened either "last night" or will be happening "today after my nap"?! We had purchased our tree this weekend and had started lugging out the boxes of decorations. Emerson's excitement and enthusiasm amped up even more. Hard to believe that's possible, but I have seen it in action. Watching her take out every single ornament and be celebrating and cheering and saying "yesssss" with every new discovery is pretty awesome I have to admit. Living through the eyes of a child when holiday time comes around really does make it the most wonderful time of the year...even if we still have a whole month to go. (Not to mention fitting her birthday in the middle of all that!)
Watching her and thinking about bottling up all the excitement, of course, I started thinking about our students and getting them excited. I don't just mean excited for this time of year. I mean how do we make it so the most wonderful time of year is the whole school year? While I would love for my little one to sleep in at some point, I do love that she has such a curiosity and eagerness for life that gets her jumping out of bed pretty much every morning. What if all of our students were that curious and eager to jump into your classroom each day?
I believe it's completely possible for us to create opportunities, environments, interactions that will have our students running into class in the morning and not wanting to leave at the end of the day. There is a catch. Just like finding the tree, unpacking all of the decoration boxes, preparing for family visits, cooking holiday meals, and everything else that comes with this time of year takes time and work, so will rethinking and redesigning your classrooms and your teaching. It will take work, so let's roll up our sleeves and get started!
I have a series of posts to share during the next few weeks that will focus on one thing to rethink or maybe just reiterate something you are doing to help make it the most wonderful time of the year now and all year.
This week, I want to focus on classroom libraries. I have actually written about classroom libraries several times; it's definitely a topic near and dear to my heart. If you want you can read a post about building an effective library here or another one with resources for what your library should include here. After getting the book Game Changer: Book Access for All Kids in the mail on Friday, I got the itch to write more about classroom libraries! If you have been in my office, then you know how I feel about having plenty of books within arms reach of kids. I have seen their faces when they first come into my office and see all of the books or when they bring a friend who hasn't seen my office and they say "see, I told you she has a lot of books." Of course, building up a library takes time and money, but it's all worth it when you have kids who can't wait to browse though your library and get excited when they get to choose books. Not to mention, books just make every room look better, don't you think?!
Check out Colby Sharp's classroom library in this video tour. He is the co-author of Game Changer and currently a 5th grade teacher. His classroom library is my dream library. I love that the majority of his room is all about the books. When you think about it, our job is to create thinking human beings. Reading is thinking. Therefore, the more readers we create, the more thinkers we create. And we can't create thinking readers without giving kids access to books, all the time, wherever they look.
I know that books cost money. I am always on the hunt for ways to get books cheap or even free. I also support writing grants or trying to use a site such as Donors Choose to fund classroom libraries. As you all know, Scholastic Book Clubs is a great way to get more books. I am sure some of you have some good ideas for how to get books. If you have ideas, share with your colleagues! And as we begin to go into budget season, funding for classroom libraries and our school library is certainly something I am always thinking about.
I have used a version of this rubric with teachers in the past. You can try it out and do a little self assessing of your classroom library. Now that you know your students really well, you know more about what your library needs to look like for them. And you can see if there are book titles, authors, genres that you need more of. It's a good time of year to build a wishlist and think of different ways to make more books accessible to your students. An activity I liked to do when I was a 2nd grade teacher was have the students help me redesign the layout of the classroom library. They helped look through and weed out books we did not need. They helped decide how we would organize the bins. They helped make the labels. And in the end, it was truly their library. They took pride in and felt ownership of their library.
How can we make every day the most wonderful time of the year in school? One way is to start looking at how your classroom library can help get kids excited.
How does your library measure up on the excitement scale?!
I read a cute new picture book from Scholastic called The Three Little Superpigs. It's a sequel to the classic tale of The Three Little Pigs. Will the wolf finally outsmart the pigs? Read to find out!
I also read a great nonfiction picture book called The Sun is Kind of a Big Deal. Lots of good facts shared and the sun's jobs are explained, but the author does it in a fun way that will have kids (and adults) of all ages enjoying this book.
Events this week:
Monday - School Council Meeting @ 4:00, Bemis Wreath Making w/PTA 6:30-8:00 in the cafeteria
Tuesday - Grade 4 Team Meeting @ 8:00, Hearing and Vision Re-screening
Thursday - Liz @ PLT Meeting 7:45-10:00
Friday - Liz out of the building, PTA Family BINGO Night @ 5:30
Great things I noticed last week:
- I saw 4th graders starting these Mexican painting projects. Looking forward to seeing the colorful final products!
- I caught some 4th graders collaborating, shopping online, and trying to plan a Thanksgiving meal that would cost as close to $100 as possible. Wish I had them around when I was planning for the meal at our house!
- I popped into 2nd grade and found some more collaborating happening as students were talking with each other and answering comprehension questions.
- 3P and KL were the BoxTop winners so they each got an extra recess with me! One involved a Just Dance dance party and the other involved sliding in snow!
- I found lots of buddies getting together. 3rd graders were making and flying paper airplanes with kindergarteners, and 1st graders were doing some turkey math with 5th graders. So nice to see different grades having fun together!
With the new book Game Changer!, there is an online resource site with some great video clips from Colby and Donalyn. You will need this sentence from the last line of the introduction to get access: "Together we can provide every child with the book access and literacy opportunities that they deserve." https://www.scholastic.com/pro/Game-Changer!.html
How about this image to inspire us for today?