Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Over-Gusher

If I were in a Seinfeld episode I would probably be dubbed "the over-gusher."  And I'll admit it.  I am.  I am one of those annoying teachers who can go on and on and on about her students.  I have never ending stories of how special, fantastically creative, or incredibly intelligent my students are.  So, I beg you to bear with me as I take a moment to do so now.

As you know, it is Dr. Seuss's birthday today.  And all across America teachers were celebrating his big day today.  Many schools, like mine are celebrating him all week.  Our celebration typically coincides with the Six Flags Read to Succeed program.  For those of you unfamiliar with the program it is an incentive based challenge that requires the children to log six hours of reading in return for a free pass to a Six Flags amusement park.  

Personally, I don't care for this "challenge".  I believe that if a child is going to read s/he will do so without the enticement of a free opportunity to throw up on a roller coaster.  Also, as a life - long reader I have never, nor will I ever,  keep a log of my reading.  I don't keep track of how much time I spend reading each day, or the names and/or authors I read.  I don't know of a reader who does.  Nor do I ask my husband to confirm that I actually did read the book and for that amount of time.  Because these are all things I would not do as a reader, I do not require my students to do so.  In short, this challenge goes against everything I try to teach my students to do: read for pleasure, for as long as you like, for yourself, to think, to connect. 

In a previous post I talked about one way that I engaged the children in tracking their reading for this event using the iTunes App Easy Chart.  So far it has been pretty successful and plan to update that post by the end of the week to let you know how that part of it went.  Because many of my students were not swayed by the possibility of receiving a Six Flags pass, we decided that we would donate all unwanted passes (have not decided to whom yet).  Now here comes the gushing.

Today was the day when the reading logs were due.  Although 3 students handed in their logs yesterday, all logs were returned by the end of lunch today.  All 20 of my students participated in the challenge.  Most of the children read and logged beyond the required six hours.  In total, my students logged 7,834 minutes of reading.  One hundred thirty hours (approximately).  On average, six and a half hours per child.  Their logged time was 37% of the grade level's total recorded time.  

Why did we have 100% participation?  Was it because we are engaged in an ongoing query of whether NOOKS build strong readers and weaved this into the recording?  Was it because we were using Easy Chart to graph each day's reading total, and then capturing it as a picture in email?  Was it because we had decided as a class to donate unwanted passes (it will be interesting to see how many passes get donated and to whom)?  Was it because we had agreed as a classroom community that participating in this challenge was something we would do?  According to our Twtpoll this is why: