On the first day of school last week we started reading Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina. It’s a chapter book, but full of illustrations, and seemed like a wonderful first ongoing read aloud for my third graders. Each day we’ve read one chapter after coming in for recess. Each day my kiddos have groaned loudly at the end of the chapter. (That sound is beautiful to a teacher.)
On Thursday I realized I could harness that feeling. As I closed the book I told my students that Juana Medina is on twitter and we could send her a tweet. (I held off on telling them that I’ve met her and showing the photographic proof from the Gaithersburg Book Festival last year. I’ll keep that in reserve until I really need it.) I grabbed my computer, connected to the projector, and we composed a tweet together.
I told them we would check back at the end of the day, a couple of hours later, to see if Juana Medina responded.
Luckily, she did.
My students were practically out of their skin to see that she had responded. Then I told them she had another tweet to us.
Because the tweets were up on the projector, my students were reading them out loud in unison. After reading the first part of the second sentence, they all paused, gasped, and then continued reading together. It was beautiful.
Then they asked if we could write back. I asked what they wanted to say. They knew immediately and I got to typing.
This cost me nothing but time. And it was worth any time it took.
(Also, I love that my students responded to Juana Medina in the style of Juana and Lucas, in both English and Spanish. Beautiful. Especially as 16 of my 19 students are Latinx, most of them first or second generation immigrants from Central America. They can connect.)