Music to My Ears

I have been meaning to post for quite some time, but like most teachers, I am desperate for more time.  (Which will be a whole post in and of itself one day!)  However, I am too excited about some amazing things I have been observing in my classroom not to take a moment and brag a little.

I am a huge supporter of SSR.  I was ecstatic when SSR became regular practice in our department last year.  SSR days are the best days of the week!  The idea of allowing students to read what they want to read and for fun inspires many readers.  Last year, I had a student in my tenth grade class who was actually a senior.  I had him his ninth grade year as well.  He took part, however unwillingly, in SSR.  Typically, he would just take any old book off the shelf, read it for the time, and return it.  One day he picked up Tuesdays with Morrie.  I have my own suspicious that he did because it was the smallest book on the shelf.  Whatever reason he chose it, the book hooked him.  One day as I greeted students at my door, I asked him how he like the book.  His whole face lit up and he explained that he loved it and it was the first book he has read all the way through since fifth grade.  Fifth grade!  I was blown away.  He also read The Five People You Meet in Heaven that year.  I gave him a copy of One More Day when our paths crossed this year; I hope he has enjoyed that as well.

This year I have been blessed with books.  Not only did a Donors Choose project get fulfilled, but we were also given budgets from our district to build up our classroom libraries.  I was floored!  I never thought that in these current times I would have the opportunity.  Right now, I have more books the shelving space in my classroom!  I have been truly lucky.

A number of books have attracted my students’ attention this year.  I have two books by Courtney Summers, Some Girls Are and Cracked Up to Be.  I CANNOT keep those on my shelf!  As soon as one girl finishes one, another girl is snatching it up.  Once of my students told me Some Girls Are is the best book she ever read while another read Cracked Up to Be in a week…her own personal record!  Unwind by Neal Schusterman has been a hot item with my boys.  There is no way I can keep any of the Hunger Games books on my shelf for anything.  I have two students sharing Catching Fire right now and a senior in another class borrowed Mockingjay so he could finish the series.  Then of course, anything like Hunger Games is in high demand.  I have had a number of studnets read Divergent by Veronica Roth.  I just brought in my dystopian books my students want to read.  Three students are each reading a copy of Monster by Walter Dean Myers right now.  A junior that told me he has hated reading has discovered graphic novels.  While I am still building up my own collection, I am grateful he has found some in the media center.  Two different students told me today that they are reading three books at one time…and already know what they want to read next! 

“Ms. B, can we read today?”

That question was asked by a fifth hour student on Friday.  She chose to read We Beat the Streets from my newest book order when I book talked some of the memoirs and nonfiction books I had since we just finished a narrative writing unit.  I have to pry the book out of her hands for class time (and yes, it breaks my heart to ever have to do that).  I felt awful today because I feel into the trap of feeling overwhelmed with time and I put off SSR, hoping to have extra time at the end of the period.  Students in my fifth hour were disappointed at the news.  I had at least ten students as they finished their grammar quiz today take out their books and use the extra time to read.  They actually wanted to read…not sleep or sneak texts on their phones!  It killed me to tell them to put their books away when the lesson continued.

Not only do my students want to read, but they also want to talk about reading.  Students come up to me nearly every day giving me updates on what they are reading, sharing titles, requesting copies for my library, or asking for recommendations.  I love having a discussion with a student about a book we have both read.  I love to hear that someone is waiting for a copy of a certain book because her friend told her how good it is.  I feel like I am building a community of readers and it feels amazing!

Some may say there is no “scientific evidence” to support SSR.  I don’t need any scientific evidence.  I witness the power of it every day in my classroom. 


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