Letting Students SOAR
I have a confession to make: I’ve only read two books by Judy Blume: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing,which I read for the first time when I read it to my class last year and the second time when I read it to my class this year, and Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, which I read when I was probably 12 or 13 years old. (I remember my dad being really upset with me about reading the book because it has some scenes he didn’t think were appropriate. Not surprisingly, many adults have reacted to Judy Blume’s books in the exact same way for just about the exact same reasons. However, I enjoyed the book and may go back and read it again soon.)
As a result of my lack of Judy Blume-ization (even though I own a large portion of them at home and at school), I never knew until last week that she is the person who first introduced the concept of DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) in her book Ramona Quimby, Age 8. DEAR has become a national movement of sorts, with teachers all over having their students use it as their cue for independent reading. While I’ve found the acronym a little silly, it is definitely better than SSR (officially “Silent, Sustained Reading” but my friends and brothers said it actually meant “Sit down, Shut up, and Read”).
My students read independently every day, but as I mentioned yesterday, our room often feels cramped and many students have a hard time focusing on reading because they are getting bumped by neighbours, distracted by slight noises, or fall to the temptation to talk to their friends, thinking I won’t notice. (Note to my students who may be reading: I always know when you are talking; most of the time I hope you’ll stop before I have to say something about it.) We went outside to read yesterday, and it seemed the class really enjoyed it.
So I decided to try it again this afternoon. As we went outside, I told the students to spread out and read. As I called it out, I suddenly realised that I have a perfect acronym for this that goes right along with what I want them to do: SOAR! Spread Out And Read. I like it better than DEAR.
As long as the weather permits, we are going to SOAR outside every day for the rest of the year. And when the weather isn’t complying, we’ll SOAR inside. We have six bean bag chairs, a huge carpet, and lots of floor space. I am hoping to get a couple more bean bag chairs, too, and maybe some other fun reading chairs for the room. But, honestly, I am hoping to SOAR outside as much as possible!