Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Changes in 2010

Someone I admire is J.Kaye of J.Kaye's Blog. On a recent post about changes in 2010 to her blog site, I had to take a good look at my last year of blogging. I started my blog hoping to get students involved in writing. The only ones who participated were my limited English speaking students. So I started writing about the books that I was reading hoping I could get the students interested in books. When I entered my first reading challenge on the last day of school and three days before eye surgery, I had talked it up so much that my students were actually excited. They also voted on the number of books I should read for the summer. It came to 60+ books. Some of them actually asked about it at the beginning of school. By this time I had joined several other challenges, thanks to J.Kaye's blog. My students called me a freak and weird because I read so much. Then came the Fall Into Reading Challenge and the fact that I was requiring a minimum of 10 books from seven different genres from my remedial reading students. They started challenging each other when setting their goals. I will proudly post those totals next week. Changes I have seen in my students are phenomenal. They don't realize the implications of spending so much time reading. Most of them will pass the state test this year. I had students who thought they could not read 10 books in one school year and they have already read 20 - 26. One student told me he hated me because at the beginning of school he hated reading and I have taught him to love it. I love being hated that way. I have started giving out books this week. I assigned students who participated in the challenge numbers. I then went to random number generator and started getting my numbers. I circled them on my list for each grade. I have had enough books to give out 75 books to students, some of them autographed copies and over 25 books to the adults who participated. We had our open house for 5th graders looking to come to our school next year since we are totally a choice school because of our IB program. One of our "ambassadors", who took parents on tours of the school brought parents by our reading display and introduced them to me. She had told them all about the reading challenge and how I planned on doing the same thing next year. She wasn't even one of my students. She was so motivated to read she was sharing with others. It was awesome to see kids come to my room to pick up their prize and they were bouncing around. "My name was called and I won a book". I divided the books into 3 grade levels and then into piles for boys and girls then wrapped them and marked the grade and B or G on it. When I got the numbers I wrote their names on little stickers and then just stuck it on a wrapped book. One boy came to me today and grabbed me and hugged me and said how did you know to give me this book? I asked him what book it was. It was "All the Broken Pieces" by Ann Burg. It is about a young Vietnamese boy adopted by an American family. The young man who received the book is Vietnamese. There have been several books that were well matched and I did not choose them for individual kids. I have enjoyed the reading but have worn myself out. It has felt like a job. So what are my changes for next year?
1. I have 4 - 5 challenges planned for next year and believe it or not I have books already listed for them.

2. I will accept fewer review copies. Jen Robinson once advised me to be careful that I didn't get so many that I would become overwhelmed. Somewhere along the line I got so excited that I did just what I was trying to avoid.

3. The third and most important change is one I had to make for me. I finished a book in 2008. It needs some more work before I send it out again. I have sent it out a couple of times but it is not where it needs to be. I was also taking a 2 year novel writing course through "Forward Motion for Writers". I am about 14 lesson behind on my Historical Fiction book I am writing. I can easily catch them up if I could sit and do nothing but write. I could do one lesson a day. So that is my plan starting after the 18th my last day of school for Christmas Break. I have had the lessons and been doing part of the writing but I had not refined it and posted the lessons. I have made a commitment to keep up with it in the new year.
I had started a book about a mayor of a small mountain town who is killing young boys. It is a cool ghost story. I want to finish it. My students want me to finish it because those who have been reading to critique it from a teens point of view have been hanging for a while.
My ultimate dream and goal is to become published. I have had several teaching articles published in books that other people have compiled of teachers writings. It is time I write for me. I have read enough and want my students to be able to read my work one day. I can only reach this goal if I step back and re-evaluate what worked and what didn't this year. I look forward to reading and reviewing with you this next year and maybe even posting updates on my writing periodically.


  1. Sandra, I'm glad you've had so much success with your challenges. That's amazing! And I have to say, it seems to me that you're having a much bigger impact there than you would be from reviewing more books.

    I, incidentally, am feeling completely overwhelmed with review books. I apparently haven't been good at taking my own advice.

    Good luck with the writing. I hope you'll update about that here occasionally, too.

  2. Oh my gosh, what a beautiful story about your students. You are one awesome teacher!

  3. Your students are really blessed to have you in their lives. And kudos on your writing!