It’s amazing how quickly I lost sight of some of the things that brought me into the classroom once I was in there. One thing that brought me into teaching was a LOVE of books (most of my childhood was spent reading). But in my first year in the classroom I wasn’t communicating that love. Working with struggling readers at their instructional level meant that the books being used were limited. I wasn’t communicating any love or enthusiasm for books because I wasn’t using any of the books that I loved or felt enthusiastic about. Things simply couldn’t stay that way. So I started to ask myself what I could do to bring my own enthusiasm for reading into things because if I wasn’t excited, there was no way my students were ever going to be excited. I knew I wasn’t going to let a year go by without my students seeing just how AWESOME books are.
In came Character Costumes. Characters because that’s a big part of what draws me into reading and costumes because I’m a huge nerd that gets lots of joy from creating costumes. It started with me dressing as a different character everyday for one week when I started teaching a unit on plot development and character change. The students were much more engaged when they had the additional support of an interactive reading led by one of the book’s characters. We all had so much fun, that the following summer, I decided to create enough character costumes so each week of the year could have a character costume. Now, the unit on plot development and character change does not last all year, so I had to find other ways to connect the books and characters I loved with the curriculum I have to teach.
That’s one of the exciting parts for me as a teacher. When I find a classroom application for a book I love, it’s like Christmas. Also, since I set a personal goal of a character a week, I don’t fall into the all too easy rut of relying just on the student readers provided by the school. Even though some of my older students act like they are too mature for my silliness, they still will ask who’s going to be showing up that week.
Here’s a preview of some of the characters I have done this past year.
Keep checking back to see posts on individual characters where I detail how the costume was made and what the instructional focus of the book read was. I’ll post clues as to what character is coming up early in the week and the actual character later in the week.