Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Setting the table..."

After speaking with Sharon McKool of Rider University at the 47th Rutgers Literacy Conference in January, I was struck by the questions and concerns of the participants.  They were not wondering about the Common Core, nor testing, nor pre-made materials for teaching small group instruction.  No, they were concerned with creating an atmosphere in their classrooms which would be a launching pad for life-long readers.  
Although we discussed guided reading, book clubs and literature circles, teachers were thirsty for mentor text, mini-lessons that would make a difference for students and how students would continue to read outside the classroom walls.  I was eager to email mentor text and mini-lesson ideas to teachers, but I kept thinking about how important it is for you, the teacher, to show your passion for reading within your classroom and how to be a role model for your students.  
Early in the year I like to “set the table” for reading work by showing my passion for cooking and baking.  Not only do I bring in rolling pins, pie weights and a bench scraper (great items for nonfiction writing!), but I try hard to find texts in a variety of genres that demonstrate my interest.  A few things I prominently display are the “series” books from The Magnolia Bakery, A Handmade Life by Molly Wizenberg for memoir, Cook’s Magazine, and a delightful poem about “pie” by Valerie Worth. Glorious cookbooks from Chile, Vietnam and Italy. Not to mention all of the terrific blogs about cooking and baking (Orangette.com, DavidLebovitz.com, smittenkitchen.com). Not only do I have mentor text that I can refer to later on, sharing snippets and vignettes, but also the students see that I am fully immersed in reading as well.  
How do you share your passions?  What kind of books, blogs and materials could you display?  Is it sailing? Dogs?  Space travel?
Your role as a mentor is a powerful one.