Wednesday, March 4, 2015

#SOL15 Day 4 :: March 4, 2015 :: The One with March Book Madness

The March Slice of Life Story Challenge
hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join us for a month of writing!

March Book Madness

"I wonder if Death by Toilet Paper talks about if its 1-ply or 2-ply?"

"I can't choose between Wonder and Ella Enchanted. It's too hard! They're both SO good!"

"What's Smile about?"
"It's about a girl who gets braces and then goes through all these things, middle school... "

"Is it okay if I do some more research on Goodreads tonight before I finalize my bracket?"

"You've never read Holes?!"

"Ashlie is reading Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere right now. You should ask her about what she thinks of the book so far. It sounds really good."

"Are you kidding me?! Harry Potter is so much better than The Lightning Thief. It's like a classic." 

"I have Sisters up against Smile in the championship."
"Those are from the same author. You can't have the same author in the finals."
"It doesn't matter if the author is the same. It's about the books!"

The madness has started! 

My students (2 classes of 31 students) started filling in their brackets today for March Book Madness. Kids were buzzing about books from the moment we were putting up the bracket on the wall before school and all throughout the day, even into the minutes after school. 

When I read about March Book Madness on The Nerdy Book Club, I knew that I had to do it with my students. A fun, exciting, semi-competitive event for my kids ALL ABOUT BOOKS?! I was sold. It looked like the perfect way to get kids exciting about reading and about books that they might not have read before. 

All of a sudden kids are engaging in authentic book talks and trying to recruit others to root for the books that they want to win. They are asking about books that they have never heard of before and wondering if we can order them in the next Scholastic book order to get it in time before the next round of voting. All of a sudden, kids who are the only one in the class to have read a certain book have become superstars because other kids are asking them what they thought about it before filling in their bracket. 

Even other teachers have gotten in on the action as well! 

All of the books I could find in our classroom library from the bracket BEFORE they flew off the board. I couldn't even keep them up long enough to book talk them while go over the bracket first thing this morning! 

My grade-level team departmentalized this year and for the first time in my whole career, I'm not teaching reading. I'm teaching math and science (which actually are my strengths as a teacher). It was super hard for me to give up reading. And by super hard, I mean I was gripping it so tightly in my hands that you practically had to pry it out. No exaggeration. 

So much of the reason why I became a teacher is because I love sharing my love of reading with my kids. I was a bookworm and devoured books when I was a kid. I couldn't get my hands on enough books to read. My mom would take me to the library and I would check out the maximum 13 books (I still remember the number to the this day!). They would be finished within days and I'd be begging to go back. 

I am not really an athletic, sporty person, so my buy-in with kids is definitely not sports. I actually really loathe doing anything physical in front of my kids because I am so awkwardly uncoordinated. I am not the best actor, singer, theatrical-kind of teacher. I am not the funniest, most popular, or outgoing teacher. However, each year, I connect with my students over books. It's what I've built my relationships with my students on every year. At the end of each year, the kids grow up and move on, but a few always come back to visit me, borrow books and talk about what they've been reading with me. Just call me "The Book Whisperer" of my school. 

So as you can see, giving up reading this year was especially hard because I was worried that I would lose my "thing" with the kids. I worried that if I wasn't their reading teacher that I would have a harder time finding an "in" with my kids. Luckily for me, I've realized that I don't have to be their "reading teacher" to talk about reading with my kids in other ways. 

March Book Madness really touched a special place in my heart today because my kids are talking about books. REALLY talking about them. They are EXCITED about reading. You can practically see it buzzing in the air! I can't wait to see the madness grow as they vote and see who wins each week.

I can hear kids talking outside my door as they pass the bracket. What they don't know is I can hear them. Gushing about books they love and asking about books they don't know. Sweet whispers through my walls that make me smile. 

After school today, I had a group of my students from last year come after school to ask me what my bracket thing was all about and then they stayed for about 10 minutes to fill out their own brackets before they went home. My door was open and I was grading papers inside. 

"I heard Bridge to Terabithia is good, but I don't think it's going to hold out against Harry Potter."
"Yeah, Harry Potter is going to be hard to beat."

My reading teacher heart is full because I know this moment will be hard to beat.  


  1. So cool! I wish I would have been that enthusiastic about reading as a kid… I was a late bloomer haha! Super kudos to you for finding ways to really connect with your students!

  2. Can't tell you how much I LOVED reading your post, especially the snippets of book talk overheard from the students. I'm honored to have my book among these stellar titles in the brackets. Thanks for all you do to get kids excited about reading!

  3. This activity really allows kids to be a champion for the books they love!

  4. That is so great! I love that you found a way to be a reading teacher, even though you are technically the math and science teacher. Reading shouldn't be confined to just one part of a person's day!

  5. Our students are so lucky to have you! Love you, work wifey!


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