Three R’s of Summer: Reading, Researching, and Reflecting

Notes from the Classroom

Today I was at the library with a stack of books when I saw a little one from our elementary school. She recognized me, and her face lit up as she said hello. Then her eyes grew big.

“That’s a lot of chapter books,” she said, as she noticed my pile of books.

“Yes, it is,” I said, smiling. “I love reading.”

“I do too!” she exclaimed as her mother proceeded to check out at least 30 picture books for her and her brother.

Reading

My summer = lots of reading. I am always on the lookout for great reads. I have a list on my phone that I am always adding to when I get recommendations from friends. I also look at blogs, Twitter feeds, and summer reading lists that are published from a variety of sources. I try to balance this with professional reading: technology articles, trauma informed, social justice . . . just a few of the things we are working on in our district.

My personal favorite is reading books that I can recommend to students. Nothing is as powerful as putting a book in the hands of a child and saying, “I read this and I think you’ll love it. Read it and then we’ll talk.”

Researching

As I do my professional reading, it invariably leads me to research. After all, the more you know, the more you want to know.

In addition, I tutor students over the summer and am constantly seeking new information that might help me understand my students’ struggles and find ways to help them. Summer is a great time to follow link after link . . . to fall down the rabbit hole because you actually have the time to do so.

Reflecting

One of the luxuries of summer is having time to reflect on my professional practice. While we do this throughout the year, summer is a great time to look back and really take time to reflect and revise for next year.

I love to get together with other teachers and make informed decisions about changes going forward. Even more, I will often find myself taking notes on my phone when I’m riding in the car (not driving!) on summer trips. It’s as though my brain finally can relax and my creative thoughts can really flow.

Whatever it is that renews you this summer, do it. Teaching takes so much out of you–even though we all say it’s worth it. Maybe your three R’s are relax, rest, and recharge. (Mine will be for a few weeks at least!) Enjoy your time–you deserve it!

beth Beth Rogers (@bethann1468) has taught in the elementary setting for the past 11 years. During this time, she earned her Master’s in Educational Technology from Michigan State University. This year, she is in a new position: Instructional Technologist K-12. This gives her the unique opportunity to work with teachers and students, district wide, to incorporate technology into their teaching and learning, in ways that engage, enhance, and extend the learning. She has already already begun to work with multiple classrooms to engage students in blogging, and to help teachers understand the power of this platform. At home, she lives with her husband, sons, and an anxiety-ridden German Shepherd who requires inordinate amounts of time and attention.

Public Act 306 of 2016: Third Grade Reading in Michigan

Website PicOn October 6, 2016, Michigan became the 37th state to adopt third grade reading legislation when Governor Rick Snyder signed Public Act 306 into law. Public Act 306 of 2016 (now referred to as MCL 380.1280f) will require all 3rd Grade students not scoring proficient on the 3rd Grade English Language Arts state summative assessment be retained. This legislation took effect immediately and 2016-17 kindergarteners will be the first cohort of students impacted by the retention aspects of the law in 2019-20.

Oakland Schools is working with intermediate school districts around the state to share guidance on implementation of this legislation. We hope the PA 306 of 2016: Third Grade Reading Timelines & Resources guide below will assist districts and schools with successful implementation of Michigan’s 3rd Grade Reading Law.

 

PA 306 of 2016: Third Grade Reading Timelines & Resources

(updated May 30, 2018)

 


Questions? Need more information?

If you have questions about this resource, please contact: Michele.Farah@oakland.k12.mi.us

Reading in the Sunshine

Notes from the Classroom

So…this happened the other day at my house.  My kindergartner couldn’t put his book down long enough to go get the mail:charlie reading

Oh, be still my English-teacher-Mama heart.

He had a phenomenal first year of school this year, and I’ll never be able to thank his teacher, Irene Settle from Salem Elementary in South Lyon, enough. He’ll read all summer; I’m sure of it.

The next day, this happened in my own classroom:

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This young man has been actively fake-reading all year long. He expends more energy figuring out ways to trick me into thinking he is reading than it would take to Just.Read.A.Book. He will not read at all this summer; I’m sure of it.

How do I change that? How do I capture some of my son’s new reader wonder and share it with my teenage students who still view reading as something to be avoided?

This year has been a journey in independent reading for me. I started the year ready to train up an Army of Book Nerds. By November, we were a little battle-worn and I reflected on some of the challenges I was facing.  Then the year got really hairy (doesn’t it always), and I stopped blogging about my journey.  Had I continued, I would have shared this:  It stayed messy. It stayed imperfect.

I asked my students for year-end thoughts about independent reading and they said things like this:

“This class has definitely reignited my passion for reading; before this year, I had only read books that were assigned in school. This year I read countless other books like The Kite Runner and Inferno.”

“I look forward to silent reading. My schedule is pretty busy so knowing that I get at least a few minutes to read everyday makes me happy and relieved.”

“It cheers me up and helps clear my brain.”

I wish I could just swoon a little, pat myself on the back and be done with it.

But my fake reader is still there with his phone in his book. And some of his classmates tell me things like this:

“Reading is still a struggle. I can’t find books I like. If I do, I just can’t drag myself into it.”

“Reading every day is just too much.”

“Meh.”

Can I make a  last ditch effort to encourage summer reading with students who feel like this?

There is a long established tradition in high schools of assigning summer reading.  Some schools require it every year. Some have extensive lists. I, myself, assign it in my AP Language class. And it is so, so important that kids read over the summer. Here’s what the research says:

  • All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).
  • The achievement gap in reading scores between higher and lower income students increases over summer vacation. The research shows that achievement for both middle-and lower-income students improves at a similar rate during the school year. (Alexander & Entwisle, 1996).
  • Reading just 4-5 books during the summer can prevent a decline in a child’s fall reading scores. (Kim, Summer Reading and the Ethnic Achievement Gap, 2004)

But I’m not sure assigning summer reading works. *small, timid, true voice* I know it doesn’t work for some.

So what’s a girl to do?

  1. Don’t give up–not on any of them. That kid who fake read all year? He’s getting a special list from me. And I emailed it to his mom. He might not read, but no one is going to accuse me of not trying.
  2. Take them outside to read in the sunshine. All they want to do is GET OUT OF SCHOOL. So scrap your lesson one day this week, take ‘em outside and let them read. Most of my kids have independent novels they’re reading, but for those that don’t, I’m going to copy the first 5-10 pages of some different, high interest books and have them read those. Maybe someone will get hooked.shutterstock_13180411
  3. Enlist the parents.  Having a kindergartner has been eye-opening for me. I’ve always thought I’m pretty good with communication, but I never really thought about how rarely I ask my parents for help.  I drafted a letter home offering suggestions for summer reading and offering my suggestions for books that might hook their students.
  4. Give students lots of suggestions. I’m planning an end of the year reading party in the last week of school. Teachers from other departments are coming in to give a quick “You have to read this” book talk for the kids, our librarian is doing the same, and I’ve got a few students in each class ready to make their pitches. All the kids will leave with a bookmark of the titles and authors discussed so they can look them up over the summer.
  5. Connect with the local library. I’ve been pushing Novi Public Library’s summer reading program  for a few weeks now and we’ve invited them to stop by our reading celebration.
  6. Share what YOU are reading this summer. I have a list a mile long and I want them to see it. I want them to see that I’m deliberate about my reading. I’m busy just like they are so I plan out what I’m going to read over the summer. I picked my top ten books that I’m planning to read and I’ll be sharing that list with them over the coming days.

I have 9 days left with these kids. Well, seven full days and two exam half days, but who’s counting?  I haven’t reached them all and this last ditch effort probably won’t pick up all my stragglers. But I might get a few more, and at the very least I’ll get an afternoon of reading in the sunshine.

Hattie profileHattie Maguire is an English teacher and Content Area Leader at Novi High School. She is spending her fourteenth year in the classroom teaching AP English Language and Composition, English 10, Debate, and Practical Public Speaking.  She is a National Board Certified Teacher who earned her BS in English and MA in Curriculum and Teaching from Michigan State University.

 

Preventing Summer Reading Loss

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Resources for Collaborating with Families

The cumulative impact of summer reading loss significantly affects reading proficiency and school achievement, especially for students who are economically disadvantaged. Providing children with self-selected books to read during the summer is an effective strategy for addressing the problem of summer reading loss (Allington & McGill-Franzen, 2013). 

Oakland Schools encourages districts to create systems for collaborating with families, providing access to self-selected culturally-relevant, high-interest texts, and promoting summer reading for all students. It is essential that districts plan now for what supports will be in place for children they serve. While individual teachers have a role in supporting summer reading for their students and families, strategic district-level planning is required to ensure that all students have access to text over the summer.  

The resources listed below are offered to help districts design systems for students and families that prevent summer reading loss.

 

Research on Summer Reading Loss:wink

 

Designing Systems to Prevent Summer Reading Loss:

 

Questions? Need more information?

If you have questions about preventing summer reading loss please contact: Michele.Farah@oakland.k12.mi.us