Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Indepedent Readers

As an absurdly overcrowded school* everyone has duty sometimes in the mornings. Classroom teachers only have it once a week or once every two weeks. Others, specialists, instructional assistants, and such have duty at least once a week.

As a first grade teacher I have duty in the library. Our librarian goddess opens the library for about half an hour every morning. Kids can check out books, use the netbooks, play with puppets or puzzles, or draw. Just about anything they want. By the end of the open library time the room is packed. There are easily fifty kids crammed in there.

This morning I helped a couple of girls find books to check out. Honestly, most of the kids are doing things unrelated to checking out books so I don't help with this process too often. The first girl, a third grader, was looking for books by Louis Sachar. The Marvin Redpost series is too easy for her but we managed to find There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom. She checked it out, along with several other titles.

The second girl, a second grader, was looking for books to read to her four-year-old brother. She wanted books without too many words so he could try reading them. We grabbed Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming. Then she told me he likes books about ducks and farms. She already had Duck at the Door so, although there are no ducks or farms, I suggested a Max and Ruby book by Rosemary Wells. She loved the idea. There were none on the shelf but we did find a McDuff book by the same author. On the cart, waiting to be shelved, we found two Max and Ruby books. She left with close to a dozen books, mostly to read to her little brother.

While these girls needed my help, they had a plan as readers and knew exactly what they wanted. I think many kids get to middle school without the sense of themselves as readers that these girls have now. It was a wonderful way to start a day.

*Our school has about 850 students now. When I started thirteen years ago we had fewer than 500 students. We have added a modular building (temporary but more permanent than trailers) with ten classrooms and bathrooms. We have nine classrooms in trailers as well as ten other trailers serving as offices for specialists. However, our gym, library, and cafeteria are all the same size they were fifteen years ago. We only have three sets of boys and girls bathrooms (as well as one single hallway bathroom and bathrooms in every kindergarten classroom and about half the first grade classrooms). In another year, a new elementary school will open which will impact our enrollment. We're not sure yet by how much.


Summers School said...

I feel your pain. My school has over 1200 in a school meant for 600. They've redone the walls to make the classrooms smaller. Our speech class is held in a room no larger than a walk in closet. The cafeteria is vastly over crowded, you can barely walk because there are so many tables.

Thankfully every grade level was given their own set of bathrooms when the building was built so that meant 5 sets of bathrooms.

Deb Frazier said...

Wouldn't it be nice if all our readers knew themselves as these girls do! And on the bright side... how nice that your school the opportunity to touch so many readers!