First of all, sorry that this post is so long. Second of all,  I think it's worth it.  Third of all, eh, nevermind...just go read the post! ;)

So, as mentioned in my previous post. I have a million and one amazing new teaching ideas swimming around in my head for this upcoming school year. Some  of the reading ideas I beta tested on my students last year, and WOW did they work. 

Here is the story of the 3 reading strategies that could: 

I took three reading strategies that I created/borrowed from Pinterest (love that site) and TeachersPayTeachers (love that site too), and implemented them in my class in order to generate a plethora of reading love during that last month of school, when generally, students have been known to slack off on their reading. At our school, students are allowed to check out books from both the school and classroom libraries that are on their lexile (reading) level. This ensures that students are reading material that is at an appropriate difficulty level. Additionally, this method is used as a motivational approach to try and convince students to improve their reading skills in order to read higher levels of books. 

For many of my kids, the most tantalizing part of these three strategies was that every student was allowed to read them no matter what their lexile level dictated. This freedom to read the really cool books genuinely motivated most of my reluctant readers. I saw more strategy practice and reading effort exuded with these books than I ever had with the normal reading. Yes, it was a difficult challenge for my lower readers to read an on level, or (gasp) above level book! Yet, even though they may not have  understood the book as well as I wanted, they were trying! They were really, really trying! They struggled, and they improved. To me, it was vastly more important for them to be working with the text, and developing their skills. Now, obviously I don't think that this is a sustainable option if used exclusively. Students need to practice their skills with appropriately leveled text, but boy oh boy, having this little extra challenge really helped motivate them!

Well, I never realized just how successful these strategies would be and I will use them FOREVER!
The Strategies:

1. Mystery Books- Originally "Blind Date with a Book", but I teach 10 year old kiddies , so that was out. I decided to make a blank book jacket for 3 novels, and slip them onto the books so that the title was no longer visible. I introduced these books to my kids with a little melodramatic mystery shenanigans and they just loved them! Kids were constantly vying for an available book to check out and read! Yippee! This year, I want to add a few clues to the book jacket, that will hopefully entice the reader to pick up this book.

2. Would You Recommend Book- Pretty self explanatory. I selected a book, and students were able to read it, and then write on the wall whether they would or would not recommend the book and why. This book was so popular, the first time the book became available, I put it back in the library and I almost had a stampede in my classroom! (Make sure you have a civilized, and thorough way of deciding who gets to read it next... might I suggest a sign up sheet, which is what I did!)

3. Raffle Books- These need a better name (suggestions please!), but they were the highlight of the reading incentives. It's actually a rather simple idea- I chose 3 books out of my collection ( I bought 12 books for $4.25 at the thrift store, so even on a teacher's salary I could afford this) and read a selection from each to the class. As I read the selection my kids could barely keep still in their seats, they were so excited and ravenous ; it was too funny! To increase their appetites for these books, as I read, I would lean in close to a student or two and they would pretend to snatch away the book from me as I was reading it. I've never seen students so hungry for a book!

Then I was so, so, so, sooooooo mean, and caged the books in full view of the students without letting them read them. They went crazy! I had kids begging to read them, and I even had a couple students attempt to sneak read them! Lol! Anyway, for each "just right" book they read, they would complete a book review, and when approved they would staple their book review to the classroom library wall and get a raffle ticket. 

On the last day of school, we all gathered in a circle and had a raffle to decide the winners of the books (imagine that, a prize that encourages reading!!!) OMG, the energy in that room was enormous! Granted, it was the last day of school, so they were already semi-bizonkers, but the raffle was just the most exciting event of the day. Students were barely able to sit in their chairs, they were buzzing with excitement and jumping out of their chairs each time a name was drawn from my giant pink crayon raffle piggy bank! Each time my hand slipped inside the crayon, a deathly silent hush would instantly cascade over the room, and the slight buzz of 24 students crazy with anticipation reverberated through the circle like the drone of an electric live wire! The tension and excitement was palpable. And oh my, when I drew out that name and read it aloud, the combination of victory yell and cries of anguished defeat stood testament to just how intensely my kids coveted these books.   Inside the books I wrote a personalized, heartfelt message to each of winners, who then got to keep the books. I'd like to think that one day, they will read that message and remember just how much I loved them, and believed in them. I plan on doing this again, and hold the raffle every month. 

There are a ton more ideas that I can't wait to share with ya'll, but that will just have to wait for the next post. Until then, ADIOS!

** A note on the pic below: many on my students are ELLs. So sometimes idioms can be complicated. I told my kids to, "get your nose in a book" one day during read to self time, and I turned around to see these three with their noses literally inside their books.  I just had to get a picture! I love these kids!

Idiom practice: "Nose in a book!"

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Elementary, My Dear Miss Watson!