To combat this pressure, I've been returning to some beginning of year ideas and revamping our reward systems. My favorite reward is praise, so it's been my goal to praise effort in every lesson. It's probably number one in most teachers' toolboxes, but when we are under stress, I tend to forget about some of those little tricks that work so well! Consistently praising effort has really made our room feel more pleasant and I'd like to share what we've been doing :-)
Like lots of classes, we've been working on Close Reading. I give the students a "meaty" passage for them to read, annotate and then discuss. In the first few pictures, the students were reading a super engaging short story called Best Friends, in which the author realizes that her "best friend" isn't really a good friend at all.
I praised this student for interpreting the text on the side of the passage.
"Best friends shouldn't bribe each other."
I praised this student for reading with her pencil in her hand. And wouldn't you know it? Suddenly lots of readers had pencils in their hands!
I praised this reader for summarizing text on the side of the passage. (Like his tie? It was Valentine's Day!)
After a few days of really consistent praise, I had a room full of students reading with their pencils in their hands, underlining and annotating text with their ideas. My only problem was that I felt so guilty interrupting their reading!
Enter the stickers. Rather than interrupt their reading with "I just love the way J underlines in his passage" or "I'm so proud of V for reading with her pencil," I just put a happy little sticker on their papers.
Currently, we are reading two articles from the NY Times "Room for Debate" series about which books are appropriate for young readers.
When students saw their table mates receive little stickers for annotating their text, they went back into the passages to respond. And voila! Close reading! Well, maybe not quite, but we are getting there!
Are you doing Close Readings in your classroom? Any tips would be appreciated!