At 2:55pm I sat in an empty library thinking no one was going to show for my Just Read introduction meeting at Partee Elementary. I did not blame anyone for not wanting to come to a meeting at the end of the day, and the end of the first week of preplanning. Monday is the first day of school, for heaven’s sake. Who has time to learn about something else to add to their ever-growing agenda?
At 3PM over 20 folks came streaming in. Twenty-five people eventually dropped by, and over half have already committed to giving their students time to free read every day. Others are going to work out when it will work best in their schedules, which is one of the best things about Just Read- flexibility. Teachers choose when it will work best for them. I gave them a very quick run down about what they are committing to do, and they seemed happy to have permission to let their students have some instruction free, assignment free, free choice reading every day. The agreed to no “buts” as in “but no graphic novels” or “but of course on their reading level” or “but they will have to choose chapter books.” No, no, and no “buts”. I think they understand that Just Read does not ask them to throw out instruction or assigned reading, but that during that very special time every day they will let students discover what they love to read. Some of the folks who came were not classroom teachers, but they are working out how they can find time to let their students free read. Many who were not able to come will be asking their peers about Just Read, and will choose to join the team.
In a few weeks we will meet again to celebrate the forming of the first Just Read Team at Partee ES. This blog will be a place for encouragement and celebration as we begin our adventure.
So, Partee friends, what questions do you have about starting a Just Read time? What ideas do you have for making your Just Read time special for your kiddos?
Teachers at Partee Elementary School have asked me to introduce them to Just Read. I am going to chronicle our adventure together on this blog. Let me begin by saying that you do not have to be at this school to try Just Read. You can follow along with us and give it a try on your own. Let us know how it goes!
Let me start with a little introduction to what Just Read is.
Have you read a good book lately? Was it the kind you did not want to put down? Did it make you laugh right out loud? Did it shake you up? Are those characters still walking around in your brain? Do you want to shake everybody around you and say, “You have got to read this book?” John Greene describes this phenomenon best (doesn’t he always?) in The Fault in our Stars:
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
When I say we want our students to become readers, this is the kind of experience I want them to have. Well, maybe not to this extreme every time, but I want them to always be on the hunt for the next good book. I have been searching for a name for this kind of reader for quite awhile. What do you call the kind of reader who chooses to read when it is not required? What do you call a reader who makes reading an essential part of living? Authentic? Empowered? Successful? Strong?
Maybe we just call them a reader.
Maybe we want our students to become this kind of reader because we are this kind of reader. I dare say some of us became teachers because we want our students to become this kind of reader.
So how do we do this? Of course, we teach them how to read, but becoming a reader is more than being able to read. I contend that if we want our students to choose to read, we need to give them the opportunity to do just that. If we want our teachers to give students time to read what they choose, we are going to have to give them permission. Just Read does this. Just Read encourages teachers to give their students time for free reading every day. Just Read reassures teachers and administrators that even though it is not instruction, free choice reading increases academic success. Just Read does not take the place of instruction, but it celebrates the joy of reading for its own sake.
Just Read asks teachers to give their whole class a few minutes every day to read whatever they choose regardless of level, subject, genre, or format AND without any grades, assignments, points, or prizes.
You have many questions now, right? Ask away. Answers are coming. But I have a question for you – Have you read a good book lately?