Skip to main content

Read Arounds

It's that time of year-the time when 7th graders begin to ask for recommendations for next year's electives-classes like  journalism.  I received an email from a student asking me for such a recommendation, and in her message she said, "You keep saying that we should write for larger audiences.  That's why I want to take journalism next year!"  I was elated!  As stated in a previous post, one of my goals is for students to write for a larger audience-not just the teacher.  

This week students had the opportunity to do just that.  After finishing "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James  Thurber and analyzing his techniques, students wrote their own Walter Mitty adventures.  Students had the opportunity to work alone, with a partner, or in a group three. Once again, I love giving students choices! Students worked on their stories in class for several  periods, during which time they barely spoke to me!  They were so engrossed in writing their stories.  Of course, I walked around and checked in with them, but it was obvious that they didn't need me!  

Once the stories were finished the did three things:

1) Posted them to our Kidblog
2) Submitted them to for feedback from me
3) Shared a copy with me through Google Docs with a secret name at the top

The following day students participated in a read around. I printed two copies of each story shared with me. I arranged students into eight groups of about four students each.  Each group had to appoint a Paper Passer (who would pass the set of papers to the next group), as well as the Recorder (who would write down the secret name written on  the group's favorite story).  I made sure to explain to students ahead of time that they were not to pass papers until I gave them permission and also made certain they knew which group to pass the papers to!  This really helped the activity run flawlessly.

Since we only had a total of about 15 stories, I had four groups read each  class set of papers.  It was interesting listening to them come to a decision about their favorite story.  They would say things like, "This one was really funny." Or, "This one is really creative and has good dialogue."  

Once students finished, we tallied the votes on the board.  The winners were awarded a treat, as well as bragging rights. I think Thurber would be impressed with many of the stories!

Here are a few of the favorites:

Walter at Disneyland

Walter's Space Mountain Adventure

Popular posts from this blog

Ditch those Reading Logs: Try Flipgrid Instead

If you've read my posts or follow me on Twitter, you know how I feel about pointless projects and homework!  This year I made it official and ditched homework.  It's the best decision I've ever made as a teacher.  My students are loving it, I am loving it, and I think most of their parents are loving it! I have completely transformed the way I run my classroom and feel like my students are more engaged and excited than ever. 

Student Example (Click to watch)

Like homework, I never felt quite right about assigning reading logs.  Whenever my own kids had to read a book on their own for school, they were initially excited. First, they were told they had to read twenty minutes each night. Then the dreaded reading logs began.  They had to write  down what pages they read, as well as a summary.  Urgh! I can only imagine lying on the beach with my own book and having to complete a reading log.  No thanks!  And I am not going to lie. I just might have signed one of my son's read…

Have a Dance Party Before Class Starts

This year I decided to play music as students are entering my classroom and before the final bell rings.  I had no idea what a difference it would make!  Why didn't I do this before?  It creates a positive, upbeat mood and seems to energize my students and ME! 

At first I thought they'd complain when I blasted disco tunes by artists like Chic, The Bee Gees, and Vickie Sue Robinson ("Turn the Beat Around").   I thought they'd groan when I played Bon Jovi, Journey, and Whitesnake. I thought they'd roll their eyes when I played clean versions of songs by Tupac and Snoop Dogg.  I really thought they'd lose it when I played Gypsy Kings.  NOPE!  They loved it!  I had NO idea that my kids would react they way they did.  Here are the results:

If I don't have time to put the music on, several kids will ask, "Where's our dance party?" I really like Pandora because I can create my own stations.  If you're looking for a way to create a positive vi…

Creating a Cell Phone Sanctuary

Over the past few years, I have noticed a change in my students.  Not only are they tethered to their phones, but they are more anxious than ever.  In the past two school years, I have had at least three students experience school anxiety so severe that they could not come to school.   Those are just MY students.  This year I have had one student leave our school after her mother spent three weeks trying to drag her to class each morning as her daughter screamed, cried, and sometimes refused to get out of the car.  According to an article titled "Teen Anxiety and Depression: the Kids are not Alright" published in 2016, "In 2015, about 3 million teens ages 12 to 17 had had at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. More than 2 million report experiencing depression that impairs their daily function. About 30% of girls and 20% of boys–totaling 6.3 million teens–have had an anxiety disorder, according t…