How Are You Going to Read All That?
It’s almost summer! Time for sunshine, flip-flops, barbecue grills, and reading student writing. Yes, along with all the end-of-the-year madness (field days, school picnics, graduations, concerts, plays…) it’s time to do a lot of reading. Kids are in their final unit of study right now, and with the end of the year fast approaching, it can be hard to squeeze in time to get around to everybody to read their notebook entries, drafts, revisions… and of course the mountain of final pieces and on-demands that will flood everybody’s classrooms in the coming days and weeks.
Now more than ever, you might need a few ideas for how to get around and read all that writing. Here are a few ideas:
1. The Daily Table. Once a day, perhaps at the end of each writing workshop, or maybe at the start of the day when kids are unpacking, have one table leave their writing folders and writing notebooks open on their desks or table for you to read. You might ask them to do this right before lunch, or any period where the kids will be out of the classroom, so that you can quickly take a minute or two to read each notebook or draft. Ask them to leave it open to the page they were working on so that you can read their most recent work without having to spend precious minutes flipping pages looking for it. Keep your conferring notes with you–jot down what you notice, and next steps for each kid (making your next conference a bit more efficient). Leave a post-it with a supportive comment or question for the student to consider.
2. Take Home. In a perfect world, you would be able to read every single student’s work every single day–and you’d be able to do all of it before you left the building. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We have to make compromises. One option is to take a little bit of student writing home each night. Just a few folders or notebooks a day makes a huge difference (especially if combined with the strategy above). Personally, I prefer to do a little bit everyday, rather than have a humongous pile to get through. I also don’t want to lug the entire classroom back and forth between home and school.
3. Host a Writing Party. Recently a friend of mine started teaching at a school not far from where I live. All year long we’ve been making plans to get together specifically just to read her students’ on-demands together! I look forward to it. What better way to hang out? We’ll make some nice snacks, brew up some coffee, and read and talk about kids’ amazing (and often cute and funny and sweet) work. It’s so much more fun to score on-demands together!
How about you? How are you going to read all that student writing? Any ideas to share?