Continuing to Address Student Social Emotional Learning and Access to Texts

We finally have access to our school library! Our library media specialist has been tasked with creating a schedule where only five students are permitted in the library at a time. Every other week, each teacher has four or five 15-minute slots for his or her students to return and check out books. It’s not ideal. However, it is how we are expected to engage with the library space for the time being.

My students seem to be responding well to using the Coping Tools Checklist. We are practicing using one coping tool a day until we are comfortable with all the options. With the help of our gifted resource teacher, we have also begun engaging with some texts to address our social emotional learning needs. We read “Me and My Fear” by Francesca Sanna on the first day of school to address our anxieties as a class. I had the students create a circle concept map with the word fear in the center. Next, they were to write words, or draw pictures, that came to mind when they considered the concept of fear. For example, they could jot down things they are afraid of, how they feel when they are afraid, or how they act when they are afraid. We shared our concept maps, then previewed the text. My students discussed their observations on the size of the girl’s fear throughout the text on our picture walk. In the book, fear is like a white shadow of the characters. Fear stays with the main character and grows and shrinks throughout the text. During our read aloud, we used context clues to understand why the main character’s fear was progressively growing larger and how it impacted her relationships with others. The students made connections between the text and their own experiences as we read. Finally, we talked about the little boy and why the main character’s fear started to shrink. In the end, the little girl realizes everyone has fears, and she is not alone. The students were intrigued to see that fear never completely went away, and I facilitated a discussion on why fear stays with us. The students were quick to identify that fear can keep us safe in dangerous situations. At the end of the lesson, I had the students add any new ideas to their concept maps. My students seem to be very sensitive to other and how others view them.

Our classroom library has been a big success so far! The students have been very respectful with the texts I have provided. I gave each student a book box to store their books from our library to keep them safe from the wear and tear inside desks. Since I do not know each student’s reading level yet, I have allowed the students to select two books free choice this past week. This have given them the opportunity to practice finding texts and simply enjoy independent reading. My students have been using the “Just Right Method (Five Finger Rule)” to find texts that are a good reading level. My student librarian was quick to pick up on the Lexile organization system our library follows. He helped me put books back into the right bins without any trouble. It also gave me a chance to build rapport with him over books he enjoyed. This year, our school has worked in twenty minutes for daily independent reading. So, we, as a class, set a goal of 10 minutes of sustained reading to start building our stamina. The students also asked for an outlet to share books from our library they enjoy with their classmates. So, we dedicated a space on my chalk tray to display books our students recommend. I also had my students pick a book review page for fiction texts, as well as a book review page for nonfiction texts. We are going to display them with our recommended books. Then, we are going to store them in a folder with prongs. We are going to keep that folder in our library for any friend who is looking for a new book to read. We’ll see how this progresses as we put it into action.

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