It’s day 29 and I feel like I have nothing left to say. All of the advice says just write. So here goes…
On Tuesday I administered the state writing exam to five fourth graders. 6.5 hours of watching them. Nothing else, just watching and telling them how many more minutes until lunch, and yes, you can get a drink of water when so-and-so returns to his/her seat, and yes, you can go to the bathroom again, but this time please don’t sing the national anthem because we can all hear you. Finally with 13 minutes left in the school day the last student finished. I was finished, too!
Today I got to read April Fools Day stories to K and 1st students and rejoice with teachers everywhere that April 1 is on Saturday this year. April 1 means that this school year will be over in the blink of an eye. These last weeks are so busy that they just fly by!
I’ve already started on my preparations for the end of school. As the librarian I do four things to promote summer reading:
- Identify students who probably have few, if any, books at home and who won’t be taken to the library. These students are members of our “No Excuses Book Club.” They get to choose a book from our final BOGO book fair and they come select a sack full of books from our donations and weeds. It is like a huge party in the library. We haul out the boxes of weeded books we’ve been accumulating all year and spread them out on tables. That’s not as bad as it sounds. There are some good books in there, they just weren’t going to hold up to circulation much longer. We bring in the 50-60 kids we’ve identified and they fill up their sacks. If they’ve got younger siblings at home we make sure that they get books too. The smiles are huge and they are so excited about all of the books that they chose. Some can barely lift their sacks. Do they all read over the summer? No, but some of them do and we’ve seen some come back as voracious readers. Others have read enough to limit the summer slide. It’s worth it!
- Every returning student (K-4 in my K-5 school) receives a new book to take home with their report card on the last day. The teachers in the next year’s grade select the book. The only restriction is that Scholastic Reading Club has to sell it for $1 so that I can purchase about 500 books on my $400 budget from PTA. I’ve already purchased The Lemonade War (Davies) for rising fifth graders. Today I ordered a Wayside School book (Sachar) for rising fourth graders. I’m still on the search for books for K-3. The message that I hope they receive is that we care enough about reading and about you as a reader to buy you a book.
- I host a BuyOneGetOneFree book fair the penultimate week of school. Is that week crazy? Yes. Do I have million other things I could/should be doing? Yes. But putting $6000 worth of books in my students’ hands right before school gets out is worth it.
- On the penultimate day of school, our PTA hosts a huge party in the park next door. It is called Mustang Breakout. They have a DJ, bounce houses, hair painting, and other fun stuff. I have a station with the children’s librarian from our nearby public library branch and we spend the day signing kids up for Summer Reading Club. We hold their logs to send home with their report cards on the last day of school. The public library is pushing for One Million Minutes of reading this summer and I hope my students will be a big part of that.
So, the advice worked. Once I just started writing I found I actually had something to say even if it ended up being a to-do list for things that need to be done before the first Friday in June.