In a few days, it will be March! Sometimes people think that March is a really long month sandwiched between two vacation months. Personally, I love that March is full of so many days to celebrate literacy! We have a lot of things packed into this month. We start with March 1, (Dr. Seuss's birthday is March 2), and at Mayo it will be Community Reader Day. We have people from all over the community coming in to read special kindness books. After they read the book to your class, the new book will be donated to your classroom library. This week we will also start our "All for Books" coin collection and if we reach our goal of raising over $600, I will prove that I am truly stuck on reading...I might be getting duct taped to the wall!?
Our staff meeting will have literacy focus with a special book tasting activity. And on Friday, March 8, we will have a chance to preview the book fair. A fun buddy class activity would be to do the book fair scavenger hunt together and the big kids can write down the book titles that they find during the hunt. During the week of the book fair, we have two evening events for families to have a chance to select books together. We have Wednesday evening as a family book fair time, and Friday night, during BINGO night, families will be able to shop at the book fair. And we finish off the month of March with Gordon Korman visiting Mayo on March 28!!
During the month of March, we will also be doing a March Madness book tournament. You will see the front lobby transformed into a bracket display. I will send out weekly surveys for you to have your class vote on the books that should move forward. By the end of the month, we will have one book that becomes the Mayo champion! Wonder which book it will be?! I will send out a survey this week to help decide on eight picture books and eight chapter books that will be part of the "Sweet 16" book tournament.
With all this focus on reading, we can't forget about writing. March is the month of the Slice of Life Challenge. I have been participating in this challenge for the past several years. I plan on tackling this challenge once again this year. The goal is to write a slice of life story every day during the month of March. That's 31 little snippets of your life. I have honestly surprised myself and written for 31 days straight during the last few March challenges. I did not think I could do it, but it has been so rewarding to be able to look back and read my writing and see my perseverance in action. During the challenge, you are also encouraged to read other people's posts and comment on their writing. I am part of a group of educators called TeachWrite. It's a group of mostly teachers (and one principal) who believe that to become a great teacher of writing, we have to be writing as well. I enjoyed going back and rereading many of my posts from last year. I love that I have these moments in time documented and can go back and enjoy them whenever I want.
So what do you say? Who wants to challenge themselves and try to write everyday during the month of March? You can either create a blog to post on everyday or you can simply write in a journal for yourself each day. Read more about the challenge here: https://twowritingteachers.org/2019/01/16/overview-of-the-12th-annual-march-slice-of-life-story-challenge/
And if you are ready to commit to writing everyday, sign at this link as a participant:
https://twowritingteachers.org/2019/02/15/participant-information-form-sol19/ (The first year I signed up, I failed and did not write everyday. But I tried and I certainly wrote more than I had the previous month.)
We all want to be the best teachers we can be for our students. And to be a good writing teacher, you need to actually write. You need to practice writing. You need to write so that you have writing to share with your students. You need to write so you can reflect on your teaching or simply reflect on life like I did in a lot of my posts over the past few years. You need to write so that you can get your thoughts out, so that you can have written memories to go back to and reread and remember. I know as educators, we all have a lot to say. This is the perfect time to share your voices, share your opinions through your writing. Write so that others can read and agree or write just for yourself so that you can make sense of your thoughts. No matter the reason, just write.
Here's the link to the blog where I will post my daily writing. And if you want to read what I wrote last year, feel free: http://readerandleader.blogspot.com/
I discovered this post last year, and I continue to reread it...love the steps he suggests for helping you write from the heart. I felt it was perfect to share with you as we talk about writing and the power of our words: https://medium.com/personal-growth/how-to-write-from-the-heart-youve-got-the-words-to-change-a-nation-cc4bf2632256
Who is ready to spread some serious literacy love during the month of March? And who is ready to take the Slice of Life writing challenge with me?
Considering the fact that I spent part of the vacation week at the Scholastic board meeting...I definitely had time to read and explore new books! On the plane ride I finished reading The Unteachables, which is Gordon Korman's newest book. Even though this book is about middle schoolers, the message that every kid deserves to be taught is one that all kids should hear. And it's also great to see a teacher character who had something happen to him that caused him to lose his passion for teaching...find his love of teaching again, thanks to an unusual group of kids. This book will be at the book fair in a few weeks...(I hope kids and teachers will check it out!
While waiting for my plane to be de-iced, I read the perfect book for me. I had picked it up at Target. (Naturally, I was there to buy some things for my travel bag, but I ended up in the book section!) This book, called Book Love, is a collection of comics about how much the author loves books, reading, book stores, talking about books...and no, the author is not me, but she sure seems a lot like me! This book would make a great gift for all of the book lovers that you know.
Events this week:
Monday - Welcome back! CST Meeting @ 10:50, District kindergarten PLC meeting @ 4:00
Tuesday - Grade 4 team meeting @ 8:00,
Wednesday - All for Books collection starts, Grade 5 Museum of Science program,
Thursday - Liz and team at S3 Academy meeting in Marlboro, Grade 5 team meeting @ 8:00
Friday - Community Reader Day! Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!
Great things I noticed last week:
- Over the break, I finished the painting project that several students had started. And we now have a little free library in the lobby. Students will be able to take a book to read or they can donate a book to our little home for books! I am hoping to add one to the cafeteria too!
- While at the Scholastic board meeting, I was lucky enough to have time to chat with one of my edu-heroes, Donalyn Miller! If you have not read her books...The Book Whisperer, Reading in the Wild, or Game Changer...what are you waiting for?!
- I was also fortunate to be seated at the table with Sayantani DasGupta, the author of The Serpent's Secret. She spoke to us about how important it is for students to see themselves in books. As an Indian immigrant child, she realized that there were no books with characters that looked like her. So she decided to write books that reflected her and her culture. She also talked about how as a pediatrician in New York, she would prescribe books to children and families. How wonderful is that? And she helped spread the message that stories are good medicine.
- I saw lots of posters and notes popping up around the building after our assembly with Brian Williams from Think Kindness. Can't wait to see how many acts of kindness our school does when we return next week! Love this message by the cafeteria...
- I caught the 3rd-5th science club in action after school last week. They were exploring gravity and inclines and more while using the walls to help!
- I also loved catching some of the after school enrichment groups in action. Thanks to many parents for helping students learn new skills....like crocheting!
- While down in Florida for the Scholastic meeting, I stayed an extra day with a principal friend of mine. She is a principal of a PK to 5th grade school with about 625 students. I had the chance to shadow her for half a day before I had to fly back home. I saw 5th graders who got to choose a band elective, a student garden where strawberries were growing and produce had been harvested and sold during the carpool line, a STEM teacher who was helping students build cars to race, and a principal who gets to know all of her kids and wants the best for them. It was a great experience, and I am working on writing a post about principals observing each other in action.
Since this post is pretty much all about literacy...check out this short video clip from my friend Brad Gustafson, a principal in Minnesota. He has some great tips for bringing the H.E.A.T. in a book talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRkqjudkaME
And here is a great video clip with Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp talking about book talking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aVS_Gmi1ls