Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Reading Totals Day

These kiddos read 586 books!

These kiddos read 762 books!

Reading Totals Day: one of my favorite school days of the year. I wish I could bottle the energy of students counting their reading lists and release it on the first days of school like a magician. *sprinkle, sprinkle* Here kids! The reading magic is all here! Rub it in! Reading is cool, see?

As you can see from the pictures, our reading totals have a range. Let's be honest; not every kid left my classroom with summer reading books falling out of their backpacks. But let's be real; some did! Some filled out their reading lists when reminded, and some didn't! Are the totals exact? Nope. Does every reader like keeping track of their reading? Nope. I mean, some of their totals are smaller than the number of READ ALOUDS we did, so do I think they are perfect numbers? Not a chance. But here is where we are on June 3rd, with three days left of the school year (three days that were added on because of bad weather in was fun in January, wasn't it? Not so much now that we could be at the pool.....with a book?!). 

Let's take a closer look at some of these numbers.

 Let's start with 132 Books Read. Could she have been any more humble about designing her number? Take out the magnifying glass. You are seeing correctly: one-hundred-and-thirty-two. That's almost one for every day of school! She read the most in both of my classes! Could she have done a multi-colored design with her number like our friends 44 Books Read or 6 Books Read or 20 Books Read? Of course! If I read 132 books, I would have busted out the bedazzler wand! (Stick? Marker? I don't know how that thing works.) But 132 Books Read is that kind of reader. Books are a no-brainer for her. Done with her homework? Time to read! Done with dinner? Time to read! I am so proud of her. But I didn't make her into a reader. She came to me a reader.

But 16 Books Read? 16 Books Read was hard work. Hours of interventions and strategies and conference prep. Strategically placed comprehension question post-its and side-by-side reading practice. I agonized over book recommendations for him because I didn't want him to call it quits in December. Do I fool myself into thinking that he gave up video games and sports for the summer and is blazing his way through the Maze Runner series? (Kind of?) But no. He worked hard this year, and he grew as a reader. I needed more time with him. But, I am so proud of him.

And 40 Books Read was one of my favorite readers. He was a reader when he came to me, but he was still a reader who needed care. He was popular and well-liked. A multiple athlete: football, track, swimming. Seventh grade could have easily been the year that he pushed reading aside. But he has a great support system at home. Academics is a priority, and he knows that reading is important. His end of year survey response to the question of "What has made you a stronger reader this year?" was "My goal for a stronger education has made me want to read more books. Also, the environment I am in with all my classmates and teachers is helpful." But he didn't just read to get good grades. He was a voracious reader. I couldn't recommend books fast enough! He would leave early every once in a while on Fridays for a swim meet and would come back on Monday with more than one book finished. He was always searching for the next great read. His favorites? It all started with The Fablehaven series. He wanted more like that. This year, he got into The False Prince series, the Legend series, and the Michael Vey series. I gave him a stack of books almost as tall as him when he asked me, "Mrs. Walsh, what should I read this summer?" I gave him Scott Westerfeld's books. My favorites: The Midnighters series and The Uglies series. 

I love that my students find Reading Totals Day so rewarding, but it's not just the numbers. I am still working on my practice and this day is a very tangible way for students to reflect on how they have grown as readers. Ideally, I want students to know this from our reading conferences, but this is a summer learning goal for me, time.

For now, I will sit on my patio, sipping iced coffee while my baby naps and think about what it will take to get to next year's Reading Totals Day.

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