This year I'm going to continue to try and introduce different ideas into the classroom in order to encourage reading for pleasure with the kids I teach. I will be focusing on two areas in particular, engaging the children with poetry and (the Holy Grail) finding more ways to involve parents in their children's reading.
Poetry is something I tried really hard to push last year, with pleasing results. By the end of the year, the class had heard over 100 different poems and knew of at least a dozen new poets. We made sure that every day we found time for at least one poem, even if it was when they were getting changed for PE or lining up before they went home. We also watched lots of great video clips of performance poetry. Craig Bradley, aka That Poetry Bloke, was a real favourite, as were the obvious choices, Michael Rosen, Benjamin Zephaniah, Brian Moses, etc. Writing a 'Three Minute Poem' a couple of times a week grew in popularity throughout the year. The children also enjoyed creating their own Poetry Zone (although we tried to put up poems all over the classroom, and not restrict poetry to one corner of the room). We had regular class Poetry Shows, where the children chose a poem to perform in a group from books that had been randomly dished out, and we had lots of fun with rhyme and rhythm whenever possible. Sometimes during the register the children would rhyme their responses (Hi, I'm Chris- please don't give me a kiss!). I would also throw in a rhyme at random and get them to shout out the final word (Today is Friday so it's eat-a-pie-day...Yes, it's raining but please stop complaining, etc).
Some progress was also made with engaging parents. Our Patron of Reading, John Dougherty, held a short Parents' Workshop, where he talked to a small group about why finding time to read with children is so important. We also ran a very successful Dads & Lads reading group (mentioned in an earlier post) and, although it never actually happened, there was a lot of interest in having class Reading Cafes and inviting family members along to take part.
What next? This year one of the ideas suggested to try and engage parents is to run a Family Book Quiz, hopefully hosted by John Dougherty and organised by members of school staff. Families would come along in small teams, and answer fun (and non-threatening) questions about children's books. And eat snacks. More details to follow about this when it eventually gets organised! I'm also going to look at other strategies to embed poetry as part of the daily life of the classroom. I desperately want new ideas, so would love to hear from anyone who would be willing to share something they've tried, whether it was successful or not.