Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Building Reading Cultures: Our Reading Ambassadors

November books we were reading.
C looks at me and inquires, "Can I make a book recommendation for the news?"

"That's a great idea," I agree wondering how in the world we will accomplish it.  To make matters more complicated, we had less than fifteen minutes left in our meeting.

I can tell by the look in her eyes that C, a quiet fifth grader, already has a plan.  Walking to the computer I log into my VoiceThread account.  C sits down, pushes the video button, holds up her book, and records a recommendation for The City of Ember by Dallas Middaugh.

Before the meeting is over, she has placed her review in the news and helped two younger students create their own book recommendations.

Reading Ambassadors
Since moving from a classroom to working as a reading intervention teacher I've had to rethink community.  I've had to move from thinking about my classroom community to considering the school community.  Last year, I hosted a Slice of Life club in March for first through fifth grade writers who wanted to step up to the challenge to write everyday for a month.  I joined the first grade team in hosting Poetry Place for our school community in April.

This year I decided our school needed a group of students to inspire readers.  Students applied for the position of Reading Ambassador.  I wanted a group of students that would keep the book buzz going around school.  I also wanted a group that had readers who were already committed to reading and a few that were on their way.  From our applicants, I selected one student from each class in grades 1-5 to represent their peers.  We meet two times each month after school and help with reading events in our school.   Our meetings always begin with --- you guessed it --- reading.  We read for a few minutes, share our books, and then get busy with the business at hand.

Some of our projects include:

  • Growing our reading lives (talk about books we're reading, keeping book lists, etc.).
  • Building the buzz about books.
  • VoiceThread book reviews for our school news.
  • Creating reading posters.
  • Making book trailers.
  • Building a blog with our sister school for book recommendations.
  • Recommending books in our library for other readers.
  • Supporting our "free little library" in front of our school. 
  • In January we'll be working with our media specialist to get ready for the upcoming Caldecott Award announcement.

Readers as Leaders
During our first meeting in October, I decided to ask the students what they thought an ambassador should do and their ideas were amazing.  They had much better suggestions than I would have ever thought of myself.  In a recent blog post:  Going Schoolwide with Reading Engagement, Matt Renwick, reminds us that students have to have ownership in these groups.  His metaphor, "I know what to do with the new marker:  When ready, hand it over to students," is essential to remember.  

When C took over the computer I had no idea how we would make recommendations work, but in the push of a button she was able to lead us through the tricky part.  I'm looking forward to seeing where our ambassadors will lead us this year.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing Cathy! Thinking and planning on ideas for our k-3 building!