This week my sixth grade class and I worked hard. We have a book to read and understand before we connect with other students in a game about our book, GiverCraft, a Minecraft EDU game based on the book, The Giver.
Obstacles have been thrown at us: I’ve had training and have been out of class; testing started and took time away; sports takes kids out of class. But we have used every minute we could find to get the book read and understood.
This is not a class who likes reading, but we are listening to the story on Audible and following along. We are reading it like friends who are enjoying a book together. We listen and use post-its to mark important places to share with each other. We pause the story and the students share. And they are sharing the important parts of the story– and explaining how it fits with what went before and predicting what might happen. They are discussing the main character and how he is changing. They are wondering about a world of sameness and rules.
They are engaged in reading. They are engaged in authentic, can’t-put-the-book-down reading. They are leaving class commenting on the world within the book. They are arriving in class and readying themselves for the days’ story and conversation. And they are anticipating success when our tasks are presented in our Minecraft game next Monday, ready to support each other with their understanding from our authentic conversations.
I’m glad I threw out the teacher’s guide and left the learning to their choices, their moments of insight, and their conversations. I’m glad I reached out to be authentic with them; our shared learning shows they are real readers.
If only reading class was always like this. Shouldn’t it be?