Saturday, May 25, 2013

40 Book Challenge Celebration

This was year two of using Donalyn Miller's idea of the 40 Book Challenge from The Book Whisperer in my classroom.  Last year I was a 5th grade language arts teacher in the regular classroom.  I was hesitant about the whole idea at first, ashamedly feeling skeptical that my students could really read 40 books in a school year.  However, after somewhat half-heartedly convincing them and their parents (and myself) they really could do it...they did!!  Not all of them - some fell short of the goal, but their reading totals were still something to celebrate since they still read more that school year than they ever had before, and all of them read more genres than previous years. Read my blog post of that year's reflection:  I discuss wrestling with grading the challenge and other tweaking of it to make it mine.

This year I was the gifted intervention specialist for 4th grade gifted reading in a new district.  I pulled kids out of their regular literacy block and taught them reading.  I knew I would use the 40 Book Challenge again, but would need to adjust it for 4th grade, but also for gifted readers.  Since it was 4th grade, I lowered the number of pages that equaled a book.  I changed it to 100 pages.  However, I kept the 40 book number the same.  I also kept the same chart that Donalyn Miller provides in her book.  The response from kids and parents was enthusiastic and positive.  The kids started right away!  After the first quarter, I had the kids reflect over their reading.  I posted those results here:

On Friday, which is the last day I would be with my students (they'll still be in school next week, but will be participating in field trips, field day, chorus performances, and awards ceremonies), we celebrated our reading totals.  It was a beautiful day, so we enjoyed the sunshine, treats, and swinging on the swing set.  I hadn't actually swung on a swing set in ages, and I laughed out loud with the kids.  Priceless!  No one can worry about state test scores, common core adaptation, and negative teacher images (or anything else for that matter) when you're swinging on a swing set in the spring sunshine surrounded by laughing 4th graders!

I admit I had a little dyslexia there - the total is actually 416.  Oops!

They couldn't resist a silly picture!

Next year I will be moving up with this crew to the intermediate building and will be teaching 5th and 6th grade gifted ELA, which is also a pull-out program.  I've already asked this group if they think we should increase the challenge to 50 books.  I may also increase the number of pages that count for a book - maybe 120 or 150?  They want me to make the challenge for 6th graders 60 books!  One student said it was a good thing I wouldn't be teaching them when they're 10th graders or they would be challenged to read 100 books.  Ha!  I sure hope someone DOES challenge them to that, though, don't you?!

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