This year we are going all out with our Reading Notebooks. In the past, they have done great things, but they have all been done individually. I have assigned traditional reading logs, and then struggled to figure out why I was getting so few turned in. This year we went with composition notebooks. There is something about comp notebooks that make you feel like a college student; I remember feeling so grown up when I had one.
Last Sunday, I shared what their homework looked like, but in case you missed it.....
"We" or I read in class. They are expected to re-read and answer one question. I prep them in class by asking questions and allowing them to Think-Pair-Share before they go home. They are expected to write about 1/2 a page.
This week they were expected to find evidence from the story to support their answer - very focused questions. I challenged them to use quotations from the story, and daily modeled how to do it.
Do you see them? Quotation marks!!!! This is from one of my System 44 kids, awesome right? This was not easy for him, and you can almost pick up the "focus vibes" from the page.
So why would 29 (one was absent) struggling 6th graders triumphantly turn in their Interactive Reading Notebooks for a grade, the second week in a row?
1. I demanded that they do it. I took no excuses and no prisoners.
2. I told them about how impressed the other teachers were at Language Arts meeting, and that the "other kids" (or non Read 180 kids) weren't doing anything close to what they were doing.
3. I pulled sticks everyday. If their name was pulled, they shared their Notebook under the camera. We all got to help them revise and fix what needed to be done. That act of bravery won their table 10points!
4. Most importantly, I told them that on Friday I was pulling 5 name sticks and those Notebooks were going to be read and graded by our assistant principal. She was going to talk to each of them about their Notebook. If they didn't have their Notebook complete, then they were going to have to explain that to her.
Now, many of my students have been to the office in elementary school on more than one occasion - it comes with the "intervention" territory. Rarely do I actually send them, it is usually a problem at lunch or PE. One has already spent some time up in the office, and more than a couple will visit her again. For me, it is really important that she knows them, and that they know her, before any disciplinary problems arise.
How did the kids feel about it? Well, by Wednesday I had at least twelve volunteers. They wanted to go see her and share their Notebook. On Friday, as my basket was filling up, about six more asked if their notebook could get turned in to her. As I was leaving school, I dropped them off in her office and she squealed with delight. It was a win-win situation...well, I still have 24 Notebooks to grade.
Next week, I think the 8th grade AVID teacher is going to get them, or maybe our School Resource Officer, or maybe our WEB advisor, or maybe their PE teachers, or maybe all of them and then I have no Notebooks to grade over the weekend.....mmmmm.