The month of March I am blogging daily with others at Two Writing Teachers. You can read more slices here.
Read aloud is one of my favorite parts of my teaching life. It’s a time when my students rush to the carpet. When they beg for more when we have to stop. When I get to discover things alongside them.
I wonder what they will remember when they are my age — about this fifth grade year. Will they remember the books we read or perhaps the feeling they have when we read?
Thinking back to my fifth grade year I remember I loved my teacher. She was blond and I thought she really liked me.
My desk was a perfect hideaway. I shared it with no one. I could lift up the top to find all of my things hiding inside. My chair was attached to my desk and was in the back of the class, middle row. The boy who sat directly in front of me always had perfectly sharpened Ticonderoga pencils that were about three inches long. The erasers were always perfect. I imagined he made no mistakes.
I remember the state report I wrote on Mississippi and the report on Abraham Lincoln. I remember seeing my beautiful teacher at a store and thinking how embarrassing that was.
But what I remember most of all about fifth grade was read aloud after lunch.
Our read aloud wasn’t the interactive sort, where you participate and the teacher shows you how they think as they read. It wasn’t the kind where you turned and talked (we didn’t talk) or jot in a notebook. I’m sure I had no clue as to what a “jot” about reading was. Read aloud for us was probably meant to get us to relax and cool off after running around at lunch recess. I doubt it was meant to be “purposeful”. I remember many times when I would put my face down on the cool surface of my desk and drift off to the words that swirled around me. Read aloud was a time to get lost in story. The book choices I don’t remember, except for one: Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.
It was Christmas time. I was at the moment when you start to question a little bit because it doesn’t quite make sense. I had suspicions of the truth, but I ignored them because I wasn’t ready to let go.
That December day I was sitting in the back of the room, listening to Rudolf. The story put me in that comfortable place of believing. Day dreaming, I opened up my desk lid and found my crayon box. I sat there with the lid tilted up covering my face. I pulled out a red crayon. I set the lid down and placed my crayon on that indentation at the top of the desk that keeps your pencil from rolling down. I stretched my arms forward toward the red crayon and put my head down, listening to the story of Rudolf, an underdog who become the hero. Somehow my red crayon found its way into my hand, and I drew with my red crayon, on my nose. Yes I was Rudolf. I don’t remember being embarrassed or anyone making fun. But I do remember realizing what I was doing in the midst of it. Perhaps my teacher saw and made it so I wasn’t embarrassed. I don’t remember.
What I do remember is the feeling of read aloud. It was a very good thing.
If my students remember anything from fifth grade when they are my age, I hope they remember the feeling of read aloud and that it was a very good thing.