My 6th grade students and my fellow 6th grade teachers…
My 40 Book Challenge
AUGUST 2017- MAY 2018
Over the summer, I read the most inspiring book called The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. I believe I finished the book in one day because I was so enthralled and inspired. While reading, I wanted to get into my classroom, meet my students, and begin the reading journey that Miller described in her classroom. I am still working on a post about her book, but one of the main takeaways was the 40 Book Challenge. Let’s review my five years of teaching before I move on.
History as a Teacher
My first year teaching, five years ago, we used Reading Counts. Students read a book, took a test, and we had a party for meeting 30 points. It was just a hoop for the students. It was easy for me to manage, I won’t lie about that, and I felt that the tests showed the kids knew what they were reading about and that they actually read
The next year I quit the RC tests as a requirement and moved to letters and other options. Students had to read 3 books I think, I can’t remember exactly, and could take a RC test, write me a letter, or some other form of showing me they comprehended and read the book.
My third year, I started a reading contract. Each month, I would have students set a page limit goal. They could set it at anything, approved by me, and could change the goal within three days of the due date. I really liked this method, I felt it gave more choice to the kids and it was good for responsibility. They had to meet their own goal, it was not set by me. After reading a book, they conferenced with me.
My fourth year was much like the previous year, but I added blogs to it in November. Each student created a blog, posted a review after reading a book, and signed up for a small conference with me to review the blog and discuss the book. Students still set their own goals and it was still individual. I had a great group of readers who loved bloggging, figured out how to make their blog theirs, and posted beyond just book reviews. I felt really successful as a reading teacher.
So why change?
The 40 Book Challenge
I had heard about this challenge before and thought it was ridiculous. I had moved on from giving my students a requirement, I wanted them to set their goals. But something in the way Miller described it really convinced me. The part I liked the best was the emphasis on reading a variety of genres. I know I read across all genres, but not all students do.
My sixth graders are emerging readers. They are discovering where they fit in with the world around them as well as their books. They may know their favorite genre, but have they read the other genres? I liked the idea of encouraging my students to embrace books they hadn’t thought to give a chance to. I also liked the idea of giving them a challenge of 40 in order to motivate them. Yes, some students will freak out, that is understandable. But for them to hear that I believe they could each meet that goal is good for them. I want my students to read more than they have ever read before. I want them to be proud of themselves!
Now, the 40 books is a goal and I have had them decide if they are aiming to that goal, or lower. Most of my students have embraced the 40, some are going for 30, and just a handful are striving for 20. So far, they love the idea of freedom for choosing books and that it goes on all year. They have set up blogs and are excited to start reviewing books. I am excited to start reading their reviews.
I am participating in the 40 Book Challenge alongside my students and will be updating my progress in a google slide you can view here.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for updates on how this year is going!