I am a sucker for a really awesome professional development session. I got this idea from a reading session that I attended several years ago, and modified it so that it worked for me. I call it “Reading Across Canada,” but you could call it whatever you want, based on your geographical location.
I first calculated the distance from provincial capital to provincial capital, to form a route that spanned from our school in Gimli, through every province in Canada and back again. I got a volunteer to cut out little yellow rectangular pieces of construction paper (what a job!) and place them all around the classroom, to simulate a highway. The students each created small road signs, some that said “Welcome to [capital city of province]” and others that said “Construction Ahead,” or other things that you might see while driving. The road signs were placed along the “highway” at reasonable distances to simulate a trip across Canada.
In a class meeting, we decided that each five pages read would equal one kilometer on the classroom highway. I made reading logs for each student and it began!
Students record the number of pages read at home and at school. Their reading logs go home every night (I gave each student a large zip loc bag to keep reading logs, a pencil and their book in). Each Monday is reading log tally day! The students use calculators to add up their total number of pages for the week while I record them on the whiteboard. (We practice congratulating students on the number of pages read, regardless of whether it was 5 or 50….cooperation is encouraged rather than competition, since we are all working together towards a common goal). We then divide the total number of pages by 5 to get the number of kilometers that we have travelled. The bus gets moved by that distance, and we begin again for the week!
It usually takes from October until about May to get all the way around the room. The students are always visually motivated by the bus moving along the highway. When the students do get all the way around, we vote to see what they would like as a reward. I have had classes choose to do everything from a “Halloween in May” party to a movie afternoon to Crazy Hair Day (now THAT was interesting!).
I love this idea because it empahsizes so much more than reading. It encourages students to cooperate, compliment eachother and encourage eachother. It also integrates math skills such as using a calculator, addition and division. And obviously, it is one way to keep reading fun and motivating all year long!