Every year I'm invited to an end of the year celebration by Kathy and Shari, our media center staff. Every year I attend. However, this year is going to be different. This year I'm going to earn my invitation.
Each year our middle school students are encouraged to read from the Iowa Teen Award list. Students that read ten of the fifteen books are invited to a pizza party, held in our courtyard. It's a big event and it is an honor to recognize the students who manage to read what ends up being a variety of genres.
Last spring I looked up the list, with a goal in mind. I wanted to earn my time with our students and of course, earn a piece of pizza. I was pleased to find that I'd recently read one of the books listed, Wonder. One down - nine to go.
I asked Shari, our media associate to help me locate the others on the list, and she simply pointed me to the cart, with the Iowa Teen Award books already set aside for the fall. I was all set, now it was time to get busy. I knew which book I was starting with, so I grabbed a copy of Legend, by Marie Lu, and headed back to the office. Surely I'd be back during the summer to grab the next book and have a good start on my list when students returned in the fall.
My goal still stands. I WILL read ten of the Iowa Teen Award books and earn my spot in the courtyard, along with my piece of pizza.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
I've recently been picking the brain of our Media Specialist, Kathy Kaldenberg, in hopes of finding ways we can promote reading within our building. First of all, if you don't know Kathy, or follow her on-line, you are missing out. She is a great example of life long learning, leading, teaching, modeling and so much more. Above all else she is passionate. She is passionate about her 1,300 kids, 100 staff members, subordinates (although she'd never refer to them as such), administrators, on-line followers, and those she meets in passing. And she is passionate about promoting reading.
Getting Kathy to help me was easy. All I had to do was ask, "Kathy, I want to do some things to promote reading. Can we talk sometime?" Before we could talk in person, we'd exchanged e-mails and she'd forwarded some blogs and websites. When we did sit down, the list of ideas was long, but one theme resonated in my mind - we wanted our kids to see that the adults in the building were readers.
Before I go any further, I'd better tell you about our building, as I'm guessing you aren't familiar. As of this posting, my audience is rather limited. However, knowing Kathy, by the time 'my readers' get this, she will have passed this around the globe.
Solon Middle School is a 5th-8th grade building, housed in what was previously a 7-12 building, which was previously a K-12 building, which was previously THE schoolhouse - built 95 years ago. It isn't your modern day middle school. The classrooms are small, the hallways narrow. There is no spacious media center or common learning area. Students, and adults, move through the building with little knowledge of what is going on in the classrooms they pass. It's an old high school building that just happens to house middle school students and teachers. We make the most of it, but it isn't set up for communication and collaboration.
So, if we couldn't expect kids to see adults reading, we figured we had to tell them. What better way to tell them than by plastering signs around the building. Middle school kids are surely to notice reminders, and the like, posted at eye-level, on or near the doors they pass in and out of every day, right? We figured it was worth a shot anyway, so we stole an idea off Twitter.
Kathy came up with the following design, which she had laminated and distributed to every staff member in our building. I simply asked that staff participate - even if they didn't update, even if they weren't reading the most challenging material, even if they weren't reading young adolescent literature - just participate.
Some teachers couldn't decide which book to share...
Our office staff participated...
Some teachers shared what they are reading with their students and what they are reading at home.
Our associates even got into the action.
We've made a small step towards our goal. It might not result in higher reading scores, but it has sparked conversations. Its got students talking to adults, and adults talking to each other about reading.
And of course, I love any opportunity I have to collaborate with Kathy.