Course Work, Elementary

Accelerated Reader Book Quizzes

My school librarian and I have been discussing at length what to do about the AR quizzing on our campus. We feel that it adds stress to our students’ reading, reduces their enjoyment of reading because they’re always thinking about the test at the end of the book, and makes students unnecessarily hyper-aware of their “book level”. Books with reading levels on the outside reveals students’ reading levels to other children (FERPA!), and limiting the books children can check out based on their reading range limits their intellectual freedom.

The librarian plans to gradually phase out AR this year by making it optional, then completely getting rid of it next year. But teachers are going to want something in its place. We brainstormed for a few hours about what the library could offer the students and teachers in the place of book quizzes.

  1. Students can earn access to end of year activities and parties based on book projects they voluntarily turn in throughout the year (encouraging them to use technology to make their projects, if possible).
  2. Challenging classes to read a certain number of books to get rewards.
  3. Meaningful reading logs with tiered levels of questioning that requires some superficial recall but also deeper thinking.
  4. Making book trailers using iPads and apps to share with the school.
  5. Holding book study groups.

We want our students to love reading for the pleasure of it, not because they have to take a quiz on every book they read when they finish. I, for one, cannot wait to see how my class is different this year when they aren’t being coerced into doing AR quizzes any more!

Elementary School, reading

Classroom Library Set Up

Classroom library
My classroom library as it stands at the moment. Still some work to be done.

Thankfully, I finished the final assignment for my summer classes this morning. Taking 9 hours of graduate school during a 10 week summer semester (while you’re also traveling and trying to enjoy a much-needed summer break), is not something I particularly recommend, but I’m glad I did it and got three more classes under my belt. Only three classes and my practicum left to do and I can get certified! Hopefully, in a year’s time, I’ll be going to a new job as a school librarian.

In the meantime, I’m switching to teaching reading this year (I’ve been doing 4th grade writing for the last two years), and I am so excited! I popped onto campus today to see my teammate who is leaving for an assistant principal job, and while I was there, I started arranging my room a bit.

I accomplished organizing the library area which has some new features this year — a rug, loads of extra cushions, and a little table. I want students to be able to sit comfortably in the library and also go back there to work if they need space from their desk. Flexible seating is all the rage, but can pose a challenge when it comes to formal exam time (Texas is all about that STAAR, sadly). However, I can at least give the kids a comfortable library area to enjoy. I’ve still got to bring in my plants for the window and rearrange the books a bit now that I have an extra little bookshelf, but apart from that, it’s ready to go.


Books for Barbershops, Millenials and Libraries

These two feel-good videos popped up in my Facebook feed recently, and I just had to share!

In this video, we meet an author who is going above and beyond to get young, African American boys reading by putting children’s books in barbershops so they can read while they’re waiting. What an awesome idea!

This one really warms my librarian heart! As a millenial myself, we’re always being told how we’re killing traditional industries by not following the exact same paths as our parents and their parents before them. But, it turns out, we are rocking it at keeping libraries alive!


The Time to Read

Unread Books
This is my stress shelf. The unread books begging to be picked up.

One of my greatest pleasures is reading a book, and one of my greatest stressors is the growing pile of unread books on my bookshelf (see picture, don’t judge!). My husband bought me an incredibly thoughtful gift for Christmas — a year’s subscription to the Book of the Month club. Incredibly thoughtful, but incredibly stressful! Each month, I love selecting my book of choice and browsing the options. And then, about a week later, when the lovely new hardback arrives and I put it on the shelf with all the other unread books, the ball of anxiety in the put of my stomach grows a few hundred pages bigger. When will I ever get round to reading all these books?

During the school year, I am too exhausted to do anything in the evenings but eat and zone out in front of the TV (unless I’m grading). Then add the additional work of grad school. And the amazing TV shows I love on cable, Netflix, Hulu, PBS, HBO etc. And then my podcast addiction. Plus, my husband’s work schedule is all over the place, so when we’re home together, it feels antisocial to go elsewhere and read a book. This summer, aside from some traveling with family, I’ve been taking three graduate classes and attempting to have the social life I can’t have during the school year, plus reading 100+ children’s books for my youth literature class. Reading for pleasure has gone on the back burner for some time and I feel terrible about it.

Each year, I set myself a reading challenge on the Goodreads app and I usually meet it, but it’s for a pitiful number of books. Naturally, I’m reading textbooks and scores of children’s books each year, but they don’t count! I want to read books of my choice just for me. I know I just have to make the choice to pick up a book instead of turning on the TV or looking at my phone for an hour before bed. I never regret time spent reading, but I’ve just got to make myself do it.

Surely, I can’t be the only person who loves books and rarely makes the time to enjoy them?