Thursday, June 4, 2009

Inspired by Two Good Teachers: A Contest and a Picnic

The Contest Tallies at Mid-Way

The Display I created to make everyone WANT TO READ

My class at Oxford, picnicking along the Cherwell River

My 10/2 students, picnicking outside our building.

This week I had the fun of taking things I learned from two wonderful teachers and using them in my classroom.

When I was little, my piano teacher (let's call her "Mom") had a piano practicing contest every year. I loved it. Everyone got to choose the prize they would get if they won, and I just knocked myself out trying to beat that rat Alex Haines and the thousands of minutes of practice he put up on the chart every week. 

Over the summer, my Oxford Professor (Christine Gerrard) took our whole class punting along the Cherwell River and then for a picnic in the park. I loved that too. And so did everyone else. 

So this month I decided to have a reading contest - inspired by my Mom -  with my 10th graders. There would be prizes for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd top individual readers (special chocolate bars from Barcelona), but perhaps more importantly, the top class would get to have a day off from learning to go outside and have a picnic party - inspired by Professor Gerrard. 

I was amazed and thrilled when the top reader read over 3,000 pages in the month of May, and when the top class read over 15,000. What an amazing thing to read so much in your second language! And on top of everything else they have to do, too. 

So on Wednesday the winning class and I took off for the sunny grass outside Ostrander Hall, everyone carting their picnic potluck contribution. Amusingly, since I didn't assign anyone any type of food, we had about 7 kinds of pastry, 4 kinds of chips, 3 kinds of cookies, and 1 small tub of strawberries. No one seemed to mind this lack of attention to the food groups. We ate, we played frisbee, and there may have been stories about how Brett and I met, and how he proposed. They were all suitably impressed by the candles lighting our path through the woods to the flower-filled cabin, by the way. 

I felt a bit awkward at yoga class an hour later with cookies, strawberries, and caramelized nuts in my stomach, but it was well worth it. This will hopefully be the first of many celebratory reading picnics, and thank you Mom and Professor Gerrard for the inspiration!


judy baker said...

Betsy -What wonderful creativity you have! One of the few fond memories of teaching that I have hung on to is a lesson in Haiku for 4th graders. It was fun for me, and I was told - lots of fun for them. This was expressed to me abut 25 years later when I ran in to a student from that class. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

I'm touched to read that The Practicing Contest of your childhood had a role to play in this successful month of reading for your students! Thank you for sharing the photos of the animated faces, the descriptions of it all, and your pride and pleasure in this amalgamation of good memories. xom