For the month of March, I'll be writing with the Slice of Life community. Disclaimer: I'll be writing every day so the writing will be a bit unpolished most days. Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for bringing this community together and for inspiring me to try to find the stories that surround me each day.
The fourth graders enter the room with joy and purpose. They're returning from recess and getting ready to begin their afternoon. They hang up their coats, talk quietly to one another, stop by their spaces to pick up tools, and begin to gather on the carpet. Everyone seems happy to be in this place at this time. The teacher enters the room with an equal amount of joy. I suppose the sunshine outside and the fact that the students were able to get some fresh air after weeks of cold helps everyone to feel better.
The teacher grabs the book as students settle in on couches, chairs, and floor spaces around the meeting area. Some students have their iPads, others have notebooks, as the class begins to recap what they learned about the story the day before. The teacher sets up the class to think about those moments they have to infer in these first chapters of the story. After some discussion, the teacher begins to read.
It's obvious this teacher loves books and knows her students. She pauses here and there as students react to the story. She peppers in small nuggets of thinking as she reads. Her voice races and slows, rises and grows quiet, depending on how the author weaves his words. I haven't heard this book before, but she makes me want to read it. The learners in this classroom remain spellbound, pausing every now and then to add notes to their notebooks or type a thought on their iPads (often the Post-It Plus app). As the teacher places the bookmark back into the book, a heavy sigh fills the room. "I want to give all of you time for your own reading," the teacher reminds seeming equally as sad to close the book.
"Take a second to think about what you heard today," the teacher requests. "Write down something you inferred today as a result of our new reading." The class grows quiet as students write their reflections; a few are shared and the teacher names the thinking students are doing, drawing attention to the text clues readers have sited in making these inferences.
I'm visiting today as part of literacy walks I am doing with one of our new elementary principals. Today we are going into two buildings to talk about the environment, the language, the work kids are doing, and the evidence of literacy learning in classrooms. We stay in this classroom to soak up the reading for about an hour, and then head down to the office to meet with the principal of this building.
It's late afternoon and there is a variety of learning going on in classrooms. What catches my attention is how many are taking an opportunity to read aloud. One classroom is finishing a read aloud and preparing to go to special. Another is writing about a book they just finished reading together. Even the social studies block is starting with a read aloud. My heart sings. Read alouds abound.