Trina Deboree
Teaching and Learning

Teaching and Learning

How To Develop An Awe-Inspiring Moment for Readers

There is a great deal of conversation around kids not reading. Many people say that electronics are pulling our kids away from reading. There have been studies by Common Sense Media that show kids reading books less and less. However, I am not sure that is true. Even if we did blame electronics or TV for that matter, we would see that most kids are reading screens more and more. Does the platform matter as much as the actual act of reading? Probably not. 

How To Develop An Awe-Inspiring Moment for Readers

Honestly, I think what matters is that we are losing the love of reading. Yes, kids are still reading. But WHAT are they reading? Since the implementation of the Common Core, there has been a considerable shift to nonfiction. Yes, I think that is important. I believe it is necessary to educate our children and ourselves, and I also realize that as a nation we are behind in the area of math and science. So a shift to nonfiction makes sense in some aspects.

However, haven't we gone a little too far in our quest for informational text? Consequently, great literature is sitting on our shelves growing dusty. Without fiction, we are losing the support or conditions that will prompt students to continue reading and thinking. Most importantly, children are missing out on opportunities to fall in love with characters and stories. As a first and second grade teacher for more than 18 years and then a media specialist, I have seen with my own eyes what good literature can do for children, especially for our most reluctant readers. Great stories draw readers in and hook them. Without fiction, we are losing a generation of readers who love to read for the pure joy of reading. 

How To Develop An Awe-Inspiring Moment for Readers

Another troubling thought occurs to me concerning fiction is the role it plays in helping readers expand our empathy for others. There is indeed enough evidence in our world today that demands the need to intentionally cultivate compassion, and then there's evidence that people are reading less fiction than they ever have; and so I'd suggest that within our decision-making circles, we intentionally and strategically incorporate literature into the nooks and crannies of our classrooms and bookshelves.

So how can we bring good stories back into our classroom? We know we need to, but how can we justify it to the powers that be? With the current focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), I believe we interweave literature. I realize that The Next Generation Science Standards were written to integrate science and engineering and the hope was not to separate the two fields. However, young children need to experience the engineering design process in a multitude of ways to better understand the significance of critical thinking and problem-solving. 

How To Develop An Awe-Inspiring Moment for Readers

Developing an awe-inspiring moment for readers is how Makerspace Moments in Literature came to life for me. The idea of creating, building, designing, and imagining paired perfectly with inspiring stories. Most great stories have a type of problem and solution framework. So why not use them to catapult the engineering design model. 

1. Locate the Perfect Book

The first step in creating a magical reading experience is to locate the perfect book. Since there are virtually millions of spectacular books to choose from that part is pretty simple. 

2. Bring the Story to Life

My students adore my use of various voices to represent the characters in a story. It's like my dream of being an actor gets to become a reality in these moments. I think I love it just as much as they do. 

3. Tie the Standards to the Story

When I first heard the term Close Reading, I thought it was one of the dumbest terms used in education to date. (And there are some really dumb terms. Don't even get me started on rigorous!) I was like what does that even mean? Looking closely at the page? Then I began to realize the actual value of the Close Read practice. Again, at first, I thought no child is going to want to hear the same story for days! I quickly realized two things. One- I was wrong and two- you don't have to reread the entire book 3-4 times. You take parts of the story and reflect upon them. You pull things out of a book to talk about or further investigate. {And how many times do kids rewatch the same move, TV show, YouTube video?!} 

I honestly, started noticing Close Reading everywhere! Even at church. When my pastor used scripture, he didn't reread the entire Bible to us. He read a section. We dissected a small amount of the text. It was powerful. And it helped me understand and comprehend the text in a much deeper and more profound manner. 

So Close Reading it is! Whatever literature standard you are working on can be taught with most stories. Now apparently, some books work better for some standards than others. When you are covering character standards, you will want a book with good solid characters. When you are covering the point-of-view, you will want books that are more obviously told from a specific perspective- especially for younger students and when you are first teaching this standard. {Point-of-view can be a little abstract, making it harder for kids to understand completely.}

4. Develop an Awe-Inspiring Moment

Finally, the most awe-inspiring moment is challenging kids to build something that solves the problem in the story. Or you may even want them to improve upon a solution that may already exist. Giving kids the chance to ask questions, imagine, plan, create, and improve gives them a hands-on creative opportunity to think critically and problem solve. 

The power of Makerspace Moments in Literature is remarkable. For me, it feels like a way to add excitement back into the school day. It feels a little like play; which is vital for kids. 

Want more information on how to launch a Makerspace? Read 5 Fundamental Ways to Launching a Sensational Makerspace. 

You don't need a makerspace. You can bring materials in for your makerspace moments. I believe in makerspace, but I get how hard it can be to add one more thing to your plate. 

If you are interested, I have recently launched a MakerSpace Moment In Literature All Year Bundle. This bundle contains SEVENTEEN makerspace moments and takes you from the beginning of the year until the end of the year. The link is below.

MakerSpace Moment In Literature All Year Bundle

Want to try one out for FREE? Sign up below to receive your FREE Makerspace Moment in Literature. 

I hope you feel as inspired as I do to bring quality literature back into your school day. The empathy level and level of reader satisfaction are guaranteed to improve when you do. 

Happy Teaching and Learning!