The truth about...

Today, I did two of the things I love most: pairing kids and books and helping a teacher brainstorm ideas.

One fourth grade reader wanted me to help her pick something good. We all know this is subjective, so we looked at her journal to see what she'd been reading and where she wanted to branch next. It's especially fun when the students bring in their book bins and their reading logs/journals so that I can conference with them.

S: I think I'd like to try an informational book, but I don't know about what.
Me: Animals? Space?

Another student from her class interrupted wanting a book about stingrays- and another wanted birds. So we headed that direction. 

S: I want to learn something about the body. But I don't want it to be boring facts.
Me: After refusing a few choices on major body systems, I went for something totally different: The Truth About Poop.

Now, before you think I'm awful- I hope you've looked at this book. The Truth About Poop has captivated many a reader. The book is full of information regarding the process of elimination by both animals in the wild, and people. The book shares historical information as well, giving the reader a glimpse at the development of plumbing systems. Rounding out the book: information on how waste is recycled and used.

S: YES! I cannot wait.

Fast forward another hour or 2- her teacher was in the Media Center during her planning.

T: I like it here. It's a nice change from my room.
Me: I need to warn you- I gave one of your kids The Truth About Poop.
T: Great! Let me tell you about yesterday! The kids wanted to learn more about bisons. We took a little detour and did some impromptu research....

After listening to her excitement about her day and the kids' discoveries, I asked how her book challenge was going. She shared that she loves sitting and talking with the kids, but was struggling with reading and responding to journals.

Me: What's your goal? What's the main point of why you're doing this?
T: I want them to read more. They'll be better learners and writers if they read.
Me: Then don't get bogged down with the journals. Talk to them. Don't mandate how they respond. Have you tried a haiku response? What about a "twitter" response? What about kid conferences: they recommend the book to a friend they know- have a conversation, and have the other student sign a conference sheet with some basic info? What about an illustration of their favorite scene in the book? Digital voice recording? Bullet list of 2 or 3 key ahas after reading?
T: I did have one boy share with another about a book he was reading and the other came to get one from you.
Me: That's a win- one shared, one listened, both hooked.
T: I have another girl putting post-it notes in her books and writing down things she wants to remember but doesn't want to stop to write. She does it later.
Me: You're doing great.... and we talked on a while longer.

The truth about flexibility, collaboration and what I do:
*it's tough sometimes to not know what's next in the day.
*it's rewarding every time I get to have a conversation with a teacher, student or parent.
*collaboration isn't about a form or about an agenda. It's not something you do just with your peers.

 Collaboration is about a relationship, and a willingness to share ideas and brainstorm together. 


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