The school year of 2020-2021 was a year like no other. As I began my 5th year as a First-grade teacher I was presented with a task that majority of teachers around the globe were presented with. Teaching during a Global pandemic. That task was to teach virtually…Now, how on earth could I do that? Me? 6 year olds? Virtually? I knew it would not be easy, but it was a challenge that I had no choice but to accept. Virtual teaching has it’s advantages and challenges however we accepted our new normal and made it fun!
As the school year began and I was afforded the opportunity to be apart of the National Writing Project with many other amazing teachers across the country. This has been an amazing project to be apart of where I also learned so much about incorporating family literacy with our students. I also began to think of ways that I could incorporate family literacy with my students following Covid-19 restrictions. Then the idea hit me, a virtual book club!
I started a virtual book club for my morning and afternoon first-grade classes. Our book that was chosen was titled, Junie B. Jones, First Grader (At Last) by Barbara Park. All students were given a copy of this book and were required to read 1 – 2 chapters per evening with their parents. This gave parents the opportunity to bond with their child and to also help continue to develop literacy skills, spark their imagination, and stimulate their curiosity.
When I met with students on the following day after the required reading, I re- read the chapters aloud to them, and we discussed events and characters in each chapter. Our book club meetings were fun, comical and interesting. Students also engaged with their classmates regarding their likes and dislikes about the book. Also, comparison of the main character, (Junie B. Jones) First-grade experience to their own, one of the major things that most students did not like was that they completed their first-grade year virtually and the books setting was in a Face-to-Face classroom. We all imagined if our experience would be close to the story’s or not.
After the conclusion of our meetings after our chapters, students were to write about their first-grade experience in comparison to the main characters. Students also had to interview their parents about their first-grade experience as well. Students asked their parents if they remembered their teacher in first-grade, (their teachers name if so), where they attended first-grade and the year as well. Student worked so hard and diligent with their parents. They shared their writing pieces and their parents interview questions as well during our final meeting event which was held on May 20, 2021.
I was so proud of my students and their parents as they shared how much fun they had and also, the things that they learned about their parents and themselves. Many students expressed that these were things they would not have known until they asked the questions that they have. This was very heartwarming to hear from my students when they shared their parents experiences as well. In conclusion, even though our experience for first-grade 2020-2021 was not the most ideal in comparison to Junie B. Jones, we all persevered and made it great year.