Wow, what a year this has been! Many things have happened in 2016 to transform our lives and to shape the way we teach and learn our students. At the beginning of the year, many of us made promises or goals that we wanted to reach. Hopefully, you were able to carry out or revisit those goals to make them more effective for you. As we are looking forward to welcoming in the new year, I'd like to suggest some resolutions that, at least with your students, you can certainly keep--with a bit of planning and dedication.
- Read a new book (or books from a new author). Have a favorite author whose books you just can't put down [mine are Piper, Faulkner, Cleary, and Carle]? Do you have a lot of interests that you'd like to explore? Or, do you have a love for novels but haven't the time to read it throughout the year? Make it a habit to read more. It's good for your mind and a great way to relax, even if it's for a few minutes at a time. You don't have to do it alone. Get a group of colleagues, friends, or classes to read the same book (or books by the same author) by making it a book club.
- Adopt a pen pal classroom. Letter writing is still one of my favorite activities to do, even in the midst of the texting, IM, and email world I now live in. I've done this with students who rarely get letters in the mail and to see the kids' excitement when they get something sent to them personally is amazing.
- Explore a new genre each month. Interested in science fiction, poetry, or romance? Not sure you'd like any of the above? Find out by exploring best sellers or classics in these genres. Not only will you get something fresh each month, but you'll also be able to increase your knowledge on different topics.
- Create and publish a book. Once you choose a particular genre (e.g. poetry, short story, fable, personal narratives) and/or a theme (e.g. fall, life lessons, feelings), work with students to create their pieces of work. Then use a traditional publisher or create a digital version of the book for children to share.
- Master a new teaching strategy. Haven't tried literature circles? Afraid to venture from the traditional popcorn or round robin reading? Would you like to hold student conferences but don't know how to fully implement them? Think that centers are too difficult to set up in the reading classroom? Wondering how to integrate word studies into your reading program? Take time to research a new (or forsaken) evidence-based strategy and implement it with your students. Peer-reviewed journals, professional association publications, and college libraries are some sources for finding new ideas for your class.
- Implement new technologies into the classroom. Technology has its place in the reading classroom. Why not start with using ebooks during centers or as homework? Big Universe has over 10,000 books in many topics from which you can choose.
Hope these ideas can get you ready for the new year. What's your resolution?