From the Office of the Future of Reading

Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Timothy O’NeillAfter graduating from Ohio State University in 2005, Tim made his journey south to Northwest Atlanta (Cobb County School District).  He is in his ninth year of teaching at Hendricks Elementary School; a Title I school and 2012 Blue Ribbon winner (named by the U.S. Department of Education).  He is currently working on his Ed.S. in Instructional Technology.

Tim O’Neill

First of all, you should know that I have the best job in the world.  I am a fifth grade Special Education teacher in my ninth year of teaching at a Title I school in the Metropolitan Atlanta area.  Every day, my co-teacher and I (in the inclusion setting) have the unique opportunity to act as role models to our students, to provide them a safe and stable environment they may not always have at home, to demonstrate to them that learning can be fun, and to help them realize that education can be their ticket for improving their current situations.
One of the challenges our students face as readers is the occasionally overwhelming number of children’s literature from which they have to choose.  Previewing books is a skill that we continue to work on throughout the year, but one strategy we have implemented to assist with this is “Blessing Books” on each Friday.  My co-teacher and I will each select two books to book talk and then post the book covers on our cabinet doors so that students may refer to this area of our room when selecting their next great independent reading book (Please note that Wonder is not posted because it was our first Extended Text/Read Aloud of the year).
Additionally, we also post YouTube book trailers on our class Edmodo page.  This creates an excitement and a buzz that often leaves a waiting list of students trying to get their hands on whatever book it might be.  Reading is frequently thought of as an independent activity, but we try to give our students as many opportunities as possible to communicate about titles and authors.  

The One and Only Ivans book trailer on our Edmodo page created eleven replies from students.  A handful can be seen below.
One new strategy we implemented this year is our Twitter wall.  I always tell my peers that Twitter is probably my most valuable source for ongoing Professional Development, but I have also started to use it to connect our readers to published authors.  I have sent pictures of students’ responses to literature and videos of book clubs to various authors and almost always hear back from the authors with very positive responses.  As much as my students and I appreciate the work of our favorite authors, it is also incredible to see authors appreciate the work of our students.  Our students light up after seeing that authors have taken the time to value their work and it absolutely encourages them to continue their work and extend their thinking.

Lastly, our class has created several videos that have created excitement in regards to reading within our classroom.  Our favorite books of the first nine weeks can be seen here!

Thank you, Tim, for sharing these great ideas about connecting kids with books they’ll enjoy. I know I so appreciate hearing from kid readers and especially treasure artwork they create inspired by my books.

If you would like to learn more you can find Tim on Twitter or on his personal literacy blog.

No Responses to “From the Office of the Future of Reading”

  1. Tim O'Neill

    Thanks for the comment, Alex! We definitely did not implement them all at once, but instead implemented them one at a time and gradually built to where we currently stand.

  2. Megan O'Connell

    I love how students can visit the book wall to pick new books! What an awesome learning tool! It is equally as exciting to think about how this tool was recreated by you in Compton’s hallway. Fantastic!