As our students begin to settle into the new school year, they are beginning to learn just how much of a difference they can make and how much their opinions matter. For the third and fourth graders this year, we have implemented a new Book Club program every other week. While students at this age sometimes read for fun at home, many of their experiences reading for school involve being told what to read. This can turn young minds away from reading for pleasure, so here at Berkeley Academy we have decided to give the students control over what to read. On Friday, 9/23/16, students began reading the first book they voted on as a class: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. While I (Ms. Caitlin for those who do not yet know me) was a bit unsure of how students would adapt to the format, the students took to it instantly as they were allowed to act out the roles and immerse themselves in the text. One student even asked if he could bring costumes to our next reading! It is always refreshing to see students get excited about reading!
Since Book Club only meets once every other week, I have also added individual reading logs to the program. Once a student has read seven books outside of Book Club (with parent verification), they can bring in their completed reading log to receive prizes from the prize store! Also included on the reading log is a box for students to mark how challenging the book was to read. “Easy” books are worth one Book Buck, “Just Right” books are worth two Book Bucks, and “Challenging” books are worth three Book Bucks. It is my hope that this will increase student incentive to choose books that push their current limits and expand their minds.
Since Book Club meets every other week, the opposing weeks are devoted to Young Leadership. It is my goal this session to challenge student ideas about what the future holds and how they can be a part of a change for the better. This session, students will work on a project for the Google Doodle student contest, in which they design logos for Google based on the prompt “What I see in the future…” This project, combined with class discussion, will challenge students to consider their roles in the world and what kind of world they would like to live in. It is also my goal this session to incorporate lessons and practices of mindfulness. An article from Upworthy.com reported that Robert W. Coleman Elementary School implemented meditation in place of detention and saw improvement in student behavior and how well students could self-assess their own feelings. By adding brief mindfulness exercises to our Young Leadership program, students will learn to reflect on their feelings and gain control over their emotions. If you are interested in reading the article that inspired this part of our program, you can find it here: http://www.upworthy.com/this-school-replaced-detention-with-meditation-the-results-are-stunning?c=ufb1.
Overall, I am immensely excited to see the ways in which our students engage in these courses this session. Every day I am reminded of the vast potential of our students and am thrilled to be a part of their lives as they discover their worth and the possibilities that await them.