We have about two weeks left of the 2017-2018 school year. That means one more week of instruction (this week) and one week of finals (next week). As I type this post, it is warm and steamy on the second floor of my mostly windowless high school building. It is not even 8 AM, yet I find myself sweaty. I know it will be a long day.
As the school year winds down, it is tempting to provide my high school seniors with busy work for the rest of the week. However, I know that this is not best practice and will not serve my students in the best way that I can. Recently, I saw this post on Twitter from Judy Wallis, which reads, "A plea...please use the last days of school to try out new practices you hope to put in place next fall, immerse kids in book talks for summer reading planning, do book pass and book shopping; please don't give kids test practice packets by the pound. Grow readers!"
It has been my goal all year to promote a positive culture of reading with my high school students, especially my seniors. (You can read a little about my journey here and here.) Unfortunately, independent reading has not been a common practice in many of my colleagues' high school ELA classes, but I made it the norm in my classrooms. When I saw this post by Pernille Ripp about how she used 12 Word Summaries with her middle school students, I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to try something new, involve my students, and help continue to grow readers (yes, beyond graduation!).
We are still in progress of writing 12 word book invitations, but these are my steps so far.
1. Last week I invited my students to think of the best book they read this year.
2. As I read about in Pernille Ripp's blog post, she used a short Cozy Classic book to begin. I read this Cozy Classics book out loud, emphasizing that sometimes it can be effective to summarize a story using a short amount of text.
3. I instructed students to jot down words they thought of when considering their favorite book they read this year. I gave them a few minutes to come up with a 12 word promotion for their favorite book.
4. This was a slide that I shared with students as part of my instruction last week:
5. I noticed that many of my students emulated the Cozy Classic book and simply summarized their books writing twelve different one word sentences. Although I don't feel that this is wrong, I can imagine that it might not encourage other students to want to read the book. Here's a student example:
6. Based on what I saw many of my students produce last week, we are returning to our 12 Word Invitations today, and I will invite my students to make revisions to their book invitations. Using one of my favorite books I read this year, Tell the Wolves I'm Home, I wrote an example that I will share with them today:
I am excited to see how this turns out. My hope is that we will have a collection of book invitations to leave with my senior students (this year's seniors and next year's seniors).
Ultimately, I needed that nudge to continue to try new things, even in our final weeks. After all, I want to continue to grow readers.