I think that question haunts many teachers. I am sure there are some that are not concerned with if their students are having fun but I try. So last night as I was thinking of ways to add some excitement to Evaluate and Judge writing. Today I went to my trusty friends. Picture Books. I grabbed a bunch of my favourites and we discussed different criteria. They were asked to rate each on a 5 point scale.
At first there was some eye rolls and one student loudly proclaiming they are too old for picture books but once they started to look at the different books the conversations were fun to listen to. One of the topics we were evaluating was diversity and it was interesting hearing the students discuss the diversity in Oliver Jeffers “Here We Are: Notes for living on Planet Earth” and the lack of it in Peter Reynolds “The North Star” We discussed the stories and how one did not leave a lot of room for adding diverse characters as the story only called for one human character. The North Star is my favourite picture book. It has been since the first time I read it and I do not really know why. The message is strong the illustrations rather simplistic but so beautiful. My students did not appreciate it as much as I do, some gravitated towards Drew Daywalt’s The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, one of my EA’s proclaimed their love for The Word Collector ( another Peter Reynolds and a current favourite of mine as well). In the end we read 7 books. Tomorrow they will write a review for their favourite and then some have volunteered to spread the book love and take the first annual Mr.G Picture Book award winner on a reading tour of the elementary school that is just steps away.
Today we learned about the wonderful differences in picture books and the chances we have to see the world around us. The books I picked were just a few examples of the picture books we have used or will use in class. The Last Stop on Market Street or Those Shoes are both wonderful stories that teach lessons that are invaluable. Listening to multiple groups of students read Matt de la Pena’s “Love” was just great.
My favourite part about today other than the reading of wonderful picture books? There was no “Are we doing anything fun today?” Because despite that fact that they are in Junior High and many are too cool for reading picture books they all were reading to each other and debating each books effectiveness to grab the reader and teach them a lesson.
Today was fun.