Duck into Third Grade

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Top Five Christmas Treats

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Twas the week before Christmas break and all through the school,
some distracted children were attempting to break every rule,
Thank goodness for the magic of reading, it carried us through
those difficult days of waiting for you know who…

Silver Packages was a jewel indeed,
the class sat spellbound and listened to me read,
Night Tree
kept their attention as well,
Eve Bunting had a fabulous story to tell,
Little Match Girl, a classic that encourages empathy x 10,
the class made connections again and again,
Mr. Willowby
helped to lighten the mood,
in this rhyming book we meet many a resourceful dude,
Too Many Tamales was a treasure for sure,
these books were the ultimate cure,

We also memorized A Visit from St. Nicholas and performed it many times without delay,
This narrative poem taught the class persistence as they practiced day after day,

In the blink of an eye the party day was here,
with a final performance for their parents so dear,

Then they played Christmas Scattergories and Taboo,
Then holiday good-byes were said crying boo hoo!

Finaly the time for rest, reflection, and rejuvenation is here,
Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!!!


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Connections Abound!

Book Cover - The One and Only Ivan

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Make the merry month of May memorable! Teaching with passion all the way to the very last day of school makes for a fast month however this goal is about as challenging as dieting during December. After the colossal state testing frenzy subsides the trend is to wind everything down. The kids sense this too and they begin their vacation a month early, mediocrity is as infectious as the flu, talk about a summer slide in reading progress! We must forge ahead and utilize and savor each teaching moment. Kids are naturally curious, so when people say, “The kids are through, they’re ready for a break…” I have to wonder if their teaching to the kids’ interests. Literature can pave the road to keeping kids engaged.
This is a real life example, my class had read The One and Only Ivan earlier and now we were reading an oldie but a goodie, Charlotte’s Web, when suddenly one of my struggling readers made a great connection out of the blue and with mush gusto, “Mrs. Barnes, Mrs. Barnes, Ivan made a promise to Stella and Charlotte made one to Wilbur!” She was as excited as a 49er finding gold. Her excitement was contagious. Everyone was making connections like crazy, “Gooney Bird Greene told great stories and Charlotte tells stories” and “Brad in Fig Pudding was gullible and Wilbur is gullible…” They were focused like laser beams. I think the read-aloud gallery really has helped them to remember all the books we’ve shared and make great connections that deepen their understanding. My students amaze me daily! Their love of literature has engulfed them. I asked one girl, who made 3 years growth in one year, how she improved so much and she gave me a one word answer with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face,”Read”.
In reading Steven Layne’s book, In Defense of Read-Aloud, I must mention a treasure he shared in the picture book. More Than Anything Else introduces us to the world right after the Civil War, where we meet a young boy that must work shoveling salt all day but deep inside he has a powerful yearning to learn to read, more than anything else. He is young Booker T. Washington. Powerful! There are so many books and so little time, we will be reading up until the very last day, even with schedule changes and interruptions and kids being taken out to go visit Aunt Josey. Challenging, yes…but so worth the extra effort to ignite a love of learning that will last a lifetime!


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Thanks: Read Aloud Rock Stars, Mrs. Hager & Professor Watson

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Bahaha!!! Funniest professional book I’ve ever read and also one of the most profound! Steven Layne pounds home the importance of read aloud in EVERY classroom k-college. The act of reading aloud is heavily research-based but sadly an unpracticed or at best sporadically practiced form of instruction. Many educators are opting to pelt their students with more test prep than is humanely conceivable. Worksheet after worksheet after worksheet, supplies our adults of tomorrow with so many more memorable characters that Ivan, Dorothy, Charlotte, Poppy, or Frindle ever could. It is mind-boggling how much impact students have being peppered with an endless mound of unrelated worksheets. Mind numbing, indeed!
I have been blessed with two rock stars of read-aloud. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Hager, would stand at the overhead and draw any unfamiliar words we encountered during our beloved read-aloud time, talk about an unscripted lesson in visualization! Professor Betty Watson was an amazing artist of reading aloud. She held the entire class of 20+ year olds in the palm of her hand. We laughed with her and cried with her and were ‘encouraged’ to read a MOUNTAIN of books from all different genre (causing many groans from yours truly). She stretched us all as readers and soon to be teachers and cramped our social lives a bit doing all her assigned reading,LOL! We left Harding University with a boatload of knowledge about all kinds of books and able to match any reader with something to entice their interests. These two rock stars have imprinted their love of literacy on all who entered their circles. I am blessed to have been one of the many they influenced.
Colleges should have classes not only on Children’s Literature but also on the art of reading aloud. It isn’t something teachers should have an option, “To read-aloud or not to read-aloud” does not have the child’s best interest at heart.