Tuesday, January 20, 2015

OES Reads: Week 1

We're already one week into our whole-school family reading project (OES Reads), and there's lots going on. In my effort to share as much of the project with readers as possible, I'll attempt to recap some of the happenings of the first week.

(Find more information about OES Reads in these previous blog posts in the series: Building Excitement, the Big Reveal.)

Activity Calendars
Because one of our main objectives of OES Reads is to get books into students' homes and promote family literacy, we try to support families with ideas for home activities that relate to the book selections. Our school designs an activity calendar that all students take home with their copy of the book. The calendar spans the entire project window. Each week lists the "assigned" chapters for reading to help families keep a steady pace. The span of chapters still allows families flexibility. Some will read the whole range of chapters over two days, others spread the reading out through the week.
We hope our calendars inspire you, but we strongly encourage creating
and choosing your own activities. The calendars help us to really get to know
our book selections well, and so many other ideas are born from this process!

The calendar--tailored to each book selection--also features a different activity or prompt for discussion/writing every day. Some days are marked with a star, indicating that students should bring in their products to be shared on our "Wall of Fame," housed in the main hallway of our school. This year, because the unifying component of our project is one
A 5th grader proudly displays her calendar-inspired flag
author, we've also designated two days each week as "Write Like Kate" days with recommended writing activities students and families can try that are modeled after actual writing exercises like Kate Messner. (Thank you, Real Revision reading, various workshops, and Teachers Write! experiences!) My 5th grade neighbor and I are trying to inspire more participation with our students: for each calendar-inspired piece of work they bring in to share, students are earning a raffle ticket entry into a classroom drawing for a Kate Messner book of their choice!

Maintaining Momentum
In the past, to coordinate with another school initiative about vocabulary, we would identify a "word of the week" from the week's reading assignment to attend to in our school community. With two books and less emphasis on that initiative, we chose to honor the natural emphasis on writing and authorship that comes with our study of Kate Messner's work. We selected five stages of writing (which is not all possible stages, but five that fit well with the project) and are encouraging teachers to highlight those stages int he classroom during their respective weeks. These stages--with short descriptions--are also featured on the calendars for families.

Daily trivia questions are announced, alternating between Capture the Flag and Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail. Students who know or can find the answer to the daily question fill out an entry slip. There are daily winners and weekly winners, with weekly winners awarded another of Kate's books.

A 4th grader makes a
Kate Messner TBR list
Community Connection
We are grateful to Erica Jedd at our community bookstore Books N Things for her willingness to team up with us. This week we were able to share that Books N Things would be willing to order Kate's books for OES families at a discounted price. Families who use the provided order form will be able to pick-up their books at the upcoming Family Literacy Night, but the discount will also be honored in-store for the duration of OES Reads. She is also willing to honor the discount on pre-orders of Kate's upcoming books that will release through the end of the school year if the order is placed during OES Reads

Classroom and School Activities
As we progress through the five-week period, different classrooms and teachers are engaging the students in many other experiences and enrichment activities related to the books.

First-grade students have been comparing packing and preparation for a trip on the Oregon Trail in the 1800's with packing for trips in the present day. Their results are showcased on their class bulletin board.
Our art teacher has been incorporating quilt designs and patterns from the Oregon Trail into the K-3 art classes. Each class has their quilt hanging outside their classroom door.
Many classrooms have started a new read aloud. A few intermediate classrooms are reading Wake Up Missing because it is a nominee on the Maine Student Book Award list.
There was no easy way to photograph the length of the timeline!
Everybody's reading...
Even this office friend!
Lots of buzz is happening in the staircase, and even though that is usually a quiet zone for kids, teachers are sharing stories of good book talk and interpretive skills based on our Kate Messner timeline. The timeline spans September, 2007 to November, 2015 (and beyond!). The covers of all of Kate's books mark their publication dates. It is fair to say students are most excited to see the cover of Ranger in Time: Danger in Ancient Rome hovering over June, 2015!

Plans are underway for the Family Literacy Night that will mark the publication date for All the Answers AND the halfway mark in our OES Reads program. Plus, many more classrooms are busy at work with more we can showcase as we move into Week 2. Stay tuned for more!

Use this link to read the next blog post in the series: OES Reads: Week 2

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