Monday, May 4, 2015

DEAR Time Contest

First grade is a wonderful age where students truly become readers. Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) time started several years ago. I'm not exactly sure when, but I know that we had DEAR time many moons ago when I was a young student. I used to only have DEAR time when I could squeeze it in. Mainly because many of the students would not read the entire time. Their attention would wander and I would see several of them just running their fingers along the words quickly or looking around the room. My inventor mind went to work and I came up with our behavior snack and the DEAR Time Contest. Once DEAR time begins, I pass out a small snack (goldfish, pretzels, or animal crackers) to everyone who has behaved well all day long (their card has not been moved for poor behavior). Then, I take out my book and read with my students. While I am reading, I look up at the end of every page or two to see who is also reading. I begin to keep a short list in my head of 4 to 5 students who are engrossed in their books. As I continue to look up, I narrow my winners to 2 or 3 students who were truly reading the entire time. Once the timer goes off (I set it for ten minutes after I pass out the snack), I have everyone put their books back in their "book bag" (i.e., a gallon zipper bag where they keep all of their books in their desk) and then I have them all come and sit quietly on the carpet. I bring 1 or 2 small prizes and announce my winners. To each winner, I may give out a pencil, a smelly sticker, an eraser, or anything small for their effort.

My students love to be the winners. I also make sure that I tell everyone else who didn't win that it could be them tomorrow.  Now, we make room for DEAR time every day and my students groan when we have to stop. I have noticed that many of them are reading harder books and that they even point out spelling words and phonics lessons that we have learned in the past. The addition of a very simple contest has turned what used to be a chore into a treat. Hopefully this contest can help to keep your students actively reading during your entire DEAR time. 

How have you kept your students engaged during DEAR time? Let me know! I'd love to hear about what you've done (:


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