Four Things to Do at the Halfway Mark of the Year

professional resources, reading

With the start of the new year, resolutions abound. This time of year is perfect for trying out something new in the classroom, too. If you’re not sure what you could experiment with, consider any of the following ideas.

Reading Marathons

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If you haven’t hosted a Reading Marathon, now is the perfect time to have your first. As testing season approaches, we want to make sure our students have the stamina to attend to a lengthy task, but we need to explicitly teach them some strategies. Hosting a Reading Marathon is the perfect event. The teacher teaches students how to maintain their stamina by doing stretch breaks and power poses, creating positive self-talk, and setting goals before students are tasked with reading for as long as they can. I have students create a stamina four-square in their reader’s notebooks so they have a record of what they think will work for them.

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You can keep the Reading Marathon simple, or you can have props and costumes: racing numbers, athleisure attire, a whistle, etc. During the Reading Marathon, teachers can assess students’ stamina by tracking behaviors.

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This chart provides such great information, and if you host your first Reading Marathon soon, you’ll have time to support students who struggled with stamina before the end of the year!

Visit the Reading Lounge

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This space would be a great place to host a Reading Marathon! Reserve the space using our school’s Google Calendar (click on “other calendars” if you haven’t added it to your calendars yet).

Reflect

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It’s so common to give students surveys at the beginning of the year with students. I’ve always been a fan of Jennifer Serravallo’s “What Can I Work on As a Reader?” self-reflection tool. These surveys help teachers get to know students and help students set goals. At the halfway mark of the year or the end of the first term, why not administer the same survey? If you return students’ surveys from the beginning of the year, then they can do some great reflecting about areas of growth, needs, infer some possible reasons, and make new goals with different action steps. You could even have students record a video of themselves reflecting on their growth if you use a video tool in See Saw, Class Dojo, etc.

Classroom Library Audit

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You might think your classroom library is in good shape because you have full, maybe even overflowing, shelves. Most students don’t seem to have any trouble finding books for their independent reading. But when was the last time you took a close look at what is actually occupying your precious shelf space? Scholastic’s 11 Essentials for a Highly Effective Classroom Library is eye-opening! I’m guessing there are a lot of outdated books that aren’t being read and a serious lack of multicultural, #ownvoices books. If we classified books by publishing year, I think we’d find that our collections are dated. I’d estimate that less than 20% of the books were published in the last five years. This is the perfect time of year to Marie Kondo your collection. Talk with your administrator to see if there are any funds to acquire new books. If they see pitifully bare the shelves are after a thoughtful purge, then they may be more inclined to replenish your books using a low cost book suppler like First Book. In fact, many administrators don’t think there’s a need to fund teachers’ classroom libraries because they see stocked shelves.

These activities can take place any time of year, really, but the halfway mark is a natural transition time for everyone. When students hear teachers’ thoughts about experimenting with their teaching practices, I think students are more likely to show flexible, responsive thinking as well.

Happy experimenting!

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