On one of my recent visits to LHS, I am greeted by long-time friend and colleague, Caroline Hayes, calling out "Es el día de alfabetización! It's literacy day!" Those of you who know me, know how excited I get about all things literacy. In fact, we're just finishing up the first Read to Succeed course specifically for World Language teachers, and it has been a fantastic experience!
I smile because Caroline's enthusiasm for Spanish is contagious, and her dedication to her students and her profession is exemplary. While she is not actually on my list to observe today, there is no way I can miss this. So, when I finish in one class, I stop by her room.
There I see a pile of books in Spanish, fiction and non-fiction of various levels. These are fun books, picture books, instructional books, not a textbook in sight. Students are being partnered up and are choosing which book they'd like to read together. I am curious to see how this will turn out as pair by pair, students select a book, bring a dictionary and some paper for note-taking, and head into the hallway to read.
There is a general air of excitement as this is a new activity for her Spanish 3 honors class. Ms. Hayes has been collecting books from many different sources (using personal funds--as teachers are prone to do!), and has no doubt been preparing students for this activity since school started. While I knew Caroline was planning to implement a time for students to read for pleasure and for knowledge in the L2, nothing could prepare me for the experience of seeing it in action.
Sitting in front of my laptop, getting my observation form ready and trying to take detailed notes about what I am seeing, I look up and notice that the classroom is almost empty. I step out of the room, and am met by the hallway of an American high school, FULL of students reading out loud to each other from Spanish books. Library books, children's books, ebooks, all sorts of books! In that very moment, my heart stopped and did the happiest of happy dances! That happy dance spread to my face--and I had to stop my body from joining in. But inside I was skipping, jumping, dancing and flying down the hallway! "Kids having fun with boooooooooooooks!!!!!!!!!!" I scream to myself. I want to shout from the rooftops, "This is incredible! Does anybody else see what is going on here!?"
Hmmm...as I go back to re-read what I've just written, I imagine I sound a little bit crazy. That's because I am. I am completely and unabashedly loca por libros/crazy for books! They are truly our transport into other worlds, and I will do anything I possibly can to support anyone who wants to open this world to our students in their first, second, third or fourth language!
Don't stop pushing your students to read. Whether it's the alphabet, a single word or phrase, sentences, paragraphs or entire books--push push push! I promise they will thank you for it--and you might one day see me skipping or dancing down the hall of your school!
Oh, how does the story end?
It doesn't. If you teach your children to read, the story will never end.
World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)