Sunday, February 28, 2016

OES Reads 2016: The Big Reveal

The anticipation leading up to this year's OES Reads Kick-off was hard to miss. Since the day the bulletin board announced the big reveal was "coming soon," students had been talking among themselves and with teachers about which author and books might be featured as the center of our whole-school community reading program for 2016.

Our whole-school community reading program--OES Reads--started in 2013, inspired by the One School, One Book project. Over the years, we have fashioned our program into one that works for our school community, and one that students look forward to. Last year we made shifts in our initiative in order to better accommodate the wide age range of our students and elected to make our program revolve around two books by a single author. [You can find my series of blog posts about this shift (and all that resulted) and our 2015 OES Reads program featuring author Kate Messner here.]

We just announced the 2016 OES Reads author and books to our school community--including students, staff, and families--this week.

The week prior, we built excitement and anticipation for the project with little pictures of book-specific objects turning up in the hallways and a clue being shared during each day's morning announcements. Some students kept a suspect list of authors they thought could match the clues. Others went home and did research, and they were sneaky in asking questions of their teachers when they got back to school, hoping for a hint of confirmation!

At last, the day of the big reveal came. Students were eager to have their suspicions about this year's author and books confirmed at our whole-school Kick-off Assembly, and we were happy to not have this great news stay secretive:

For our 2016 whole-school community reading program, OES is reading books by...
The room erupted, and students cheered wildly at the news. Grades PreK-2 will be reading the book Shelter Pet Squad: Jelly Bean, and grades 3-6 will be reading Rules.
The Kick-off Assembly also included two skits performed by teachers and school personnel to introduce each of the books.

One teacher, playing the role of Catherine, went through the motions of her day: waking up and getting ready for school, going to school and learning in the classroom, and going to recess with friends. Only it seemed that at every turn someone else in her life (mother, teacher, classmate) was blowing a whistle at her to emphasize the rules she lives by. When Catherine blew her own whistle and declared it enough, we uncovered the oversized book cover for Rules.

After transitioning with a slideshow of photos of OES staff members with their pets (to which each of the 40+ slides got it's own "Aww!"), another teacher acting as Suzannah performed a monologue about the unfairness of rules that say you can't have pets. When her "mother" entered the scene with the prospect of visiting the animal shelter, we uncovered the oversized cover for Jelly Bean.

Thanks to our PTA, we were also able to reveal some other big and exciting new to OES Reads students: Cynthia Lord will visit OES for a whole-day author visit on March 24, the same day as our OES Reads Closing Celebration!

Teachers helped to distribute individual copies of the respective books to each student, approximately 450 books combined. Then, the whole group broke into two smaller groups and our principal and assistant principal kicked off the reading experiences by sharing the first chapters aloud.

As students returned to their classrooms for dismissal, many paused to peek at the OES Reads bulletin board, now fully unveiled to include a photo of OES Reads Author Cynthia Lord. "I can't wait to read more of this," was heard among the chatter, with many students claiming their book was "catching."

There is so much more literacy excitement to come in the next month of OES Reads. Stay tuned for more sharing of student work and special events related to our whole-school community reading program!