I started this school year with a focused vision for using picture books--to help students gain more background knowledge in order to help them write the expository essay on STAAR. I have heard several of the teachers on my campus say that our students struggle with "real-world examples" to include in their essays. I think picture books provide easy, effective exposure to historic people and events to enrich their schema, which will hopefully enhance the details that they use in their essays.
I decided to gather twelve picture books--six for my English I teachers and six for my English II teachers. Each teacher received one book a week to share with her class. I created a Google Doc that had resources that I had compiled for each book. I didn't want the teachers to feel like this was "one more thing" piled on to their plates to have to prepare, so the more resources I could give them the better. After the teacher shared the book with her class, then she passed it on to the next teacher and received another book. The students kept track of the people that they read about on a foldable, which included three columns that they filled out while they listened: WHO? (Famous Person's Name) WHAT? (What they were known for/accomplishments) WHY? (Why this person matters to you/Personal Connection). Here are the links to the Google Docs:
English I Picture Books
English II Picture Books
English I Books: (you can click on the image for a link to Goodreads):
English II Books:
My plan was for the grade levels to trade books, but that has not happened. Honestly, this idea has fizzled out with my teachers. They started it with excitement, and I have had several see it through, but it has been hard for them to fit these books into the curriculum and all of the other things that they have to cover (which is no fault of theirs). They all agree that the students have enjoyed the books and being read to. All of the teachers agree that it has done more good than harm, which is always a plus. We will work to tweak this idea next year, and all of my teachers would like to try it again, which is wonderful!
I visited several classes during the fall semester to read aloud some of these books, which I always love doing. I like this idea of putting teachers on a book rotation and giving them resources upfront because there is no way that I can read aloud to all of my English I and II classes. This gives students access to read alouds without me having to be the one to do them all of the time.
Speaking of the importance of reading aloud, please read this important article from The New York Times and share it with your principal and staff. This will help you make the case for reading aloud to older students.