Being a middle school child isn’t easy. We all know this. They are trying to figure out who they are, what they want to be, all while sliding into a mountainous mass of hormones, peer pressure, and attempting to assert their independence. Now, more than ever before, connections are vital. Students need to find connections to their peers, educators, and the learning environment they are in 5 days a week.
It takes hard work to facilitate a culture that allows students to make these vital connections. It won’t happen over night, and they can’t be forced. So how do we begin? How to we maintain these connections?
One way I have found to spark these connections is through shared experiences. When students are on athletic teams together, they forge bonds that are unbreakable. They unite for a common goal, victory, and share moments that leave impressions on them. They bond, quite simply b/c they shared something.
This is the charm of the Global Read Aloud. It fosters a shared experience. A single book read by millions across the globe. Through this shared reading experience, students connect not only to the text being read, but also to their peers as they share a common story and realize that their connections to the text mean they are more alike than they are different. Even more powerful still is getting those connections made with students in classrooms far away, with cultures that are diverse.
As a member of a PLN that has done shared readings, I can honestly say how powerful literature can be when rich discussions and reflections are shared with others. Books innately offer insights to their audience of readers, however the ability to share those insights, connections, concerns, ideas, and aha moments with a group is priceless.
I am super excited to participate in #wyamsmonster this year and support our ELA teachers who are sharing a reading experience, #gra17, with their students. Thus far the book has been challenging. The connections are not rosy ones. They are tough, brutal even, but so cathartic. Connecting with Connor, a character ripe with the anger and fear of the uncertainty that comes along with the illness of a loved one, is not hard. We’ve all been here. We’ve all watched loved ones struggle and felt the impact on ourselves. Connor’s struggles are vividly portrayed by an author who crafts a story ripe with imagery and figurative language which pulls the reader into the story and along his journey.
I am anxious to share this voyage with the students of WYAMS. I am excited to share my connections. I am ready for a shared experience. I look forward to growing my connections to the text, to the students hearing it, to the teachers reading it, to the millions committing to this shared reading around the globe. To all of you who are reading #GRAmonster this year, what are your week 1 takeaways? How have you related to Connor?