Tuesdays are my long day. Not only is it our hump day, but it is also the day that I only have one prep (and that is second period). As you can imagine, the rest of the day can either be fertile ground for many seeds to be sown and reaped or it can languish before all of us as the
minutes seconds tick by. Today they were having a hard time settling in. We are nearing the end of third quarter and we are nearing Spring Break. This is hunker down time, for all of us. I knew that more than a mini lesson, more than conferences, today they were ready for a big chunk of reading time. We all got cozy with a book - me included. I knew I could give us 40 minutes of silent time to read and still have time left to meet with Guided Reading groups.
Of course the 40 minutes flew by and soon I had to put down my book, gather my materials, and call groups to meet. I will be honest, we all love these times of discussions. Right now each group is not only working on improving their reading skills, but collectively we continue to work on growing our ideas of characters. At this point in the year I am also getting ready to transition to Book Clubs so I want to be modeling manageable leading strategies. I often start with, "What did we learn?" Since we are focusing on character development, if that doesn't come into the discussion I will also prompt them to share their insights. Other than that I hope they can manage the discussion. It will be no surprise to know that some groups do this better than others.
At one point I found myself completely wrapped up in a discussion the student were having about their book. One student clarified something for another student. One student pointed to where in the text their thoughts originated. And I found that I was smiling to myself! This group of students started out the year several years behind grade level expectations. It isn't that they have caught up to grade level, but they are making progress - big progress. I was struck with what happens when we match students to books that are accessible to them and when kids get autonomy over most of what they read. They not only start to be successful, but start to enjoy reading. These are students who would NOT have identified themselves as a 'reader' in the fall. Now, not only are they thrilled to have 40 minutes of independent reading time, but they are also equally thrilled to read a book I have selected and meet as a group with people they wouldn't necessarily choose to hang out with - all to read and talk about reading!
It may be nearly the end of third quarter with the final stretch to Spring Break before us, but there are still seeds being tended in my students minds and they are flourishing. I'm thankful to have had this moment today to remind me of it.