Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's Reading Cats and Dogs!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have LOVED book orders.... like... loved them. I remember the excitement when my teachers passed out the little flyers, and I'm sure I spent a little too much time circling all the things I wanted in the evenings.  Then after I had JUST about forgotten I had even ordered books in the first place, a stack of new, unopened, fresh books would be waiting on the corner of my desk... thrilling.  As a teacher, I love book orders even more.. I still get excited to search through the orders and I feel so important putting the order together every month.

Although I love everything book order-ey related... I've never been a fan of the reading incentive programs.. you know, read 50 pages get a free personal pan pizza.. read 50,000 pages and get a free class party..  I am all for encouraging reading to happen, but I also don't think you need to be rewarded with a greasy pepperoni pizza and a cake.  However, in this months book order box an awesome surprise awaited.  

Scholastic is donating one book for every twenty minutes spent reading this month. Up to 500,000 books will be donated through December 14th through the PAWS for Reading program.  As I explained this and asked if it was something my kiddos would be interested in.. their faces lit up, which of course made me proud! So today each child got to decide whether they wanted to team with the cats -- or the dogs.  They each got a username and password in the chaos of our afternoon dismissal.... and then I sent them on their way home.  

Now I had forgotten all about this until about twenty minutes ago, when I decided to log myself in and see what this was really all about.  As I logged in, this is what I found:

We have already donated 11 books to those in just one night... how awesome!  Now others have the opportunity of having a new, unopened, fresh book and I think that's a great incentive to read for!  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Keeps Me Going

An extra hour in the day.  That's sometimes all I wish for...  An extra hour to spend in deep discussion about that tricky fraction concept...  An extra hour for readers to build and connect their reading in their reader's notebooks...  An extra hour to experiment and question...  An extra hour to grapple with mentor texts to find that perfect opening sentence... An extra hour of sleep... An extra hour to clean off the piles on my desk that have been collecting since August... An extra hour to reflect.

A new school, new faces, new adjustments... just one extra hour.  As the end of first quarter approaches, I find myself overwhelmed with what we have yet to accomplish.  I find myself arriving at home later and later, and waking up earlier each morning.  I find myself squeezing things in, penciling arrows in my plan book over to the next day, and leaving our read aloud story unopened for "just one more day."  As I sit here overwhelmed, I have to stop and reflect on where we started that day in the middle of August. 

New friendships have been made.  A new teacher, new students, new relationships have formed.  We know who to turn to if we need a friend to make us laugh, we know who to count on if we need a listening ear.  We recognize the power of those willing to voice their opinions and we recognize the power of those who are observant.  We know who would like to read that new book about reptiles that just entered our library and who we should go to if we need help adding description to our writing.  We have learned to think about numbers in a new way... and that the floating one above the division bar isn't really a one at all.  We know the power of our science notebooks and how to collaborate digitally in the classroom.. and although it may not be visible to the naked eye with the piles on my desk and the arrows in the plan book, the foundation is slowly building.

As I find myself searching desperately for that extra hour, I realize again how important it is to slow down in the twenty four that we are given.  That rejuvenation can come from a quiet moment when you force yourself  to put off grading that stack of papers to add something to a blog you haven't touched in a month and a half...   to search deep in your heart and reflect on what you believe in... and to believe that it is right. To me, that's an hour well spent.  

So this is my promise to myself... to reflect a little more, be content with the yet to be accomplished, and to move forward with what I believe in.  To value the twenty four hours in the day and to slow down to make the most of what I have been given.  And to more importantly realize, that everything must start with a strong foundation.