I put my kids on a top secret mission. They were each to be handed an envelope and instructed to not show ANYone what was inside. But first they needed to construct their working areas. With privacy shields and chairs acting as barriers, each pair built a top secret working area and once given their envelope, they went straight to work. Their mission: to display one of the top 10 ways to become a better reader on a paper no bigger than 9 x 12. Once all groups had completed their mission, the top 10 ways would be revealed.
The kids took their work very seriously and I made sure all groups were provided with the necessary materials: scissors, markers, glue, paper. (Actually, it was kind of fun hamming it up, going to the extreme as I emphasized the importance that each pair worked in secret.) But there was a reason for this secrecy - each group had the same thing in their envelope: READ.
About a decade ago, I went to a guided reading workshop where the presenter, Cindy Merrilees showed the group of us this line of products (that maybe she was involved with creating???) to promote reading. The coffee cup, canvas bag and large poster all have the same image on them. At first, I wanted to buy something, but then I thought, "How much better for my students to create their own version of this!" And we did. My second graders had a ball creating and cutting out the letters that would put together the top 10 ways to become a better reader.
This year in my fourth grade class, I have some reluctant readers and students who just don't see the value in reading, so I thought it would be fun to create this same visual again. The difference was in the "top secretness" and that was a great way to get these kids invested! As they worked, each pair stayed very focused on their task, taking ownership of their own mission. But once they were done, they were ready to see the others that were revealed.
As each group finished, I collected their poster ever so carefully and asked them to clean up. (It wasn't until every group was done that I let them roam the room to put things away.) Once the room was back to normal, we gathered in a circle and I very carefully handed the posters back out. I counted to three and simultaneously they all revealed their way to become a better reader.
It took a moment as they looked around the room, but then they started to react.
"Oh, my gosh! They all say read."
"What?!? They're all the same?"
A couple kids just smirked an nodded as they looked around the circle.
"Well, I guess that makes sense."
"You have all told me how much you agree that being a good reader is important," I concluded for the group. "If you strive to be a better reader, then you have to work at it and the best way to do so is to read, read, read, read," and the students chimed in, "read, read, read, read, read, READ!"
Then we brought our "read" posters out to the hall and made our display for the rest of the school.