|Mrs. Phillips reads the |
book-of-the-month to the faculty.
|reads the book-of-the-month.|
|Working in small groups|
|Teachers working with book-of-the-month with Principal Phillips.|
Not only have the books been the linchpin for teaching many different strategies and ideas over the years, they have provided us with common ideas that have led to conversation across grade levels and across disciplines that strengthen our relationships which effects our results. It's all woven together.
I could talk about so many of the books that have made a deep and lasting impression on me but I will stick to just three examples so you can see the impact, at least through my eyes. I am sure, if asked, each teacher would have her own stories of favorite BOMs and books that have made a difference in her life and in her classroom.
Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archembault. This was not a book that was entirely new to me but not one that I had studied with much depth either. However, it was to become a book that would change many of my assumptions about studying books together with my peers. Before presenting this book to the faculty, Dr. Stahlman asked the Leadership Team to read the book with the idea that we would discuss it at our following meeting, (sort of a preview to the faculty presentation) so... I read this picture book about a small Native American boy and his grandfather. I do not remember the specifics of our book talk at that next meeting but I will never forget the electricity in the room as we discussed what we had read and our interpretations. I realized that I had missed much of the story including that one of the main characters was blind- which is a major point to understanding the text. It was the first time that I really truly understood the power of a book talk and how conversations with my peers could change and deepen the way that I interpreted text. That book talk changed the way that I taught and what I did with book talks in my classroom from that day on.
Several years later, Knots on a Counting Rope was integrated into the kindergarten homework during the month of November when kindergartners celebrate Pow Wow. The young Native American boy was an Iroquois, one of the tribes that we study. Teachers read the story aloud several times during the month (now that everyone had the book because it had been a Book-of-the-Month!) and explained to the children that the grandfather in the story had a rope and that he tired a knot in the rope each time he told the young boy a story. The rope represented time. Kinder teachers then sent home a length of rope with each child with information for the parents of how to find a reading of the book on-line. They asked the parents to tie a knot in their child's rope each time they told their own child a story about their family. The children returned the lengths of rope at the end of the week and shared some of their family stories with each other and with the class. The fact that the work that was born out of this book has endured for 16 years is a testament to its original power as a book-of-the-month!
America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven is another book that made a lasting impression, not just on me but on an entire faculty and an entire school of children. "America’s White Table is the story of a little known tradition outside the military of setting a remembrance table to honor the brave men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces. The white table has served as a solitary and solemn reminder of the sacrifices made to ensure our freedoms. On Veteran’s Day Katie and her sisters are asked to set this special white table in honor of her uncle who served in the Vietnam War. As the girls set the table their Mama explains the significance of each of the items and shares the story of their uncle’s captivity and escape."
|Karen Meissner's first grade bulletin board featuring sketch noting to a readaloud.|
|Second grade examples of sketch noting|
This is the impact that so many strategies that have been demonstrated with books-of-the month have had on our work.
Sometimes the books-of-the-month make us feel - laugh or cry. Sometimes the books help us understand a new concept or strategy through demonstration and practice, but always they give us a common vocabulary and text to discuss our thoughts and reflections. Books-of-the-month as professional development lifts the level of our work and brings us together. How fortunate I have been to spend the last couple of decades learning with children's literature as the focus!