Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Oh Reading Tree, Oh Reading Tree!...

Back in November (it's crazy to think how time has flown!), my students and I decided that it would be exciting to put up a tree for the holidays. We decorated it with tinsel and lights and even made some ornaments to hang. It was beautiful and really added a great holiday touch to our classroom...

But as a teacher, this wasn't enough. When I saw the excitement in my students’ eyes as we put up and decorated this tree, I knew it would have a huge affect if we somehow linked it to our reading practice. Therefore, after some thought, it was decided that it would be our reading tree. We would each make an ornament to hang that would also display the number of books each of us would work towards reading before holiday break came. We would keep track of the number of books by adding stickers to each person's ornament as they finished a book and passed an AR test on the computer. We decided that each person who made their goal would be able to participate in a day where, instead of working on reading, we actually would get to play Wii on the Smartboard! The students were all excited. As time went on and the holiday passed, along with our Wii day, I realized what a tremendous affect this had on my students’ motivation to read. So we decided to keep our tree up and decorate it for Valentine’s Day. We made new ornaments with new goals and started over again.

6 months later and we still have our tree up. It has been decorated for each major holiday since Christmas. In this time, students have made progress not only with reading but also with learning how to make an appropriate goal and monitor it, how to show persistence even when something is hard, and most importantly, how good it feels to make your goal. For our first holiday, not many students made their goal and our Wii day only included a few. However, for our final holiday tree (Memorial Day), every student that made a goal was able to celebrate today by playing Wii on the Smartboard.

So next year, if you are ever walking by our classroom, please feel free to stop in and see the infamous reading tree, and more importantly, evidence of all the great reading that is being done by our students!

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