Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Power of Story

Today was a day I just wanted to soak in a bit. To sit back and watch my students, but not rush. Yet, it was the last day of PARCC testing. My students needed to come in from the playground, do lunch count, attendance, and be ready to head down to begin the tests within five minutes. But man alive, those first five minutes were glorious.

I've never required my students to be quiet when they come in at the start of the day. It feels unnatural. They come in from the recess and move about the room, getting ready to begin. We have lunch count at the Promethean board, kids running to the restroom, dropping off lunch money, etc. Often I will have kids come up and talk to me about what they read the night before and have a quick conference about what they read that day. Today that was still true, but it was also more.

I gave two of my boys new books I thought they'd enjoy before they left school on Wednesday. One came up to me this morning to tell me why he thought it packed an emotional punch. He had read more overnight in that book than any other night of the year so far. He's a tough customer, so I was thrilled.

The other boy I had given the first book in the Maximum Ride series. He was concerned that it was a "girl book", which I assured him was not the case, that books don't have gender. To further make my case, I listed four boys in football and basketball that I knew he knew. They were big fans of the series in previous years. This morning he not only came in to tell me he loved it, but a few minutes later I saw him in a deep conversation with three classmates about the series as they asked him what part he was at and what he thought so far. 

As I sat back and watched the morning rush unfold, I saw little conversations happening all over the room. Every single conversation was about reading. No exaggeration...Every. Single. One. It actually took my breath away. 

An hour later I sat in the room giving them their last PARCC test. As kids finished, they would quickly grab their book to read. Several curled around it, getting as comfortable as possible at the tables. I watched pages flip, graphic novel panels studied. I looked at Rose, a ticking time bomb as she approached the end of One for the Murphys. I looked over at my two boys from the day before, devouring their new books, one looking at me and giving me a thumbs up. With nineteen days left in the school year, there are certainly items I haven't gotten to, things that will be left untaught. Watching my kids today, though, I know we got this part right. Our classroom is alive with the power of story.