I call everyone ‘Darling’ because I can’t remember their names. -Zsa Zsa Gabor
This post would be more suitable for the beginning of a school year. However, it is never a bad idea to plan ahead! My students always have difficulty learning the names of their classmates. They will say “that boy over there” or “some girl”. This year, I took a picture of each student with my iPad and imported them into a class book. I used eBook Magic but you could also use iBooks Author. It is a simple book. Each page consists of only the child’s picture and a sentence that says, “I am ___” The simplicity of this book was so helpful at the beginning of the year. Students learned names much more quickly, but more importantly, they were “reading”. For many, this was their first book to read on their own. I underestimated how much they would love this book. It excited them to see their own picture in a real book as they called it. Even more surprising, they continue to read that simple book even today, with only 25 school days remaining.
Thinking about next year, I will definitely make the book again with my new students. However, I want to add some other books as well- books about the children themselves. We do a lot with thinking maps. At the beginning of each year I feature one child each day and make a circle map. On that map, we write various items that describe the child’s likes, favorite things, and descriptors of that child. We display the circle maps in the hall. I will take that circle map and make a short book in eBook Magic about the child and upload it to each child’s iBooks. By the end of the first nine weeks, each child will have a book about themselves as well as books about their classmates.
Providing students with opportunities to experience both narrative and informational text will improve both their motivation and achievement. 46% of students in the United States start kindergarten unprepared for school. The achievement gap tends to widen through the years and often students who enter school behind their peers, stay behind. By providing high interest books in the reading center and on their iPads, we develop print motivation which is a child’s interest in books. Children with print motivation will work harder to learn to read. They will identify themselves as a reader.
By taking incremental steps in our classrooms, providing high interest reading materials, and engaging students at an early age, we can work toward decreasing that achievement gap one classroom at a time. The iPads give me the opportunity to create my own reading material through eBook Magic, iBooks Author and even Pages. After all, who wouldn’t want to jump into a book written just for them?
Wouldn’t it be great for a child to say, “Who am I? I am a reader!”
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