Monthly Archives: July 2014

#cyberPD- Week 3- Reading in the Wild

This week I continue a three week promise to blog! I have been pathetic about blogging lately, so maybe this will get me started again. This is the fourth annual #cyberPD fun. I missed the first year, but have read the archives and have actively participated since. I know I get way more than I give with this enterprise, but I love to reflect, so here I am.
You can follow the fun (and even participate) by connecting here:

July 9th: Chapters 1 & 2 here at Reflect and Refine
July 16th: Chapters 3 & 4 hosted by Laura at Ruminate and Invigorate
July 23rd: Chapters 5 & 6 hosted by Michelle Nero at Literacy Learning Zone
To Be Announced: July 30th @ 8 p.m. EST

Ha, summer Wednesday, you almost caught me unaware again! This has been another busy week with lots of apartment hunting in my new city and the start of new teacher orientation, but I reread the sections and am ready to reflect!

Chapter 5- Wild Readers Show Preferences

It was interesting to read this again shortly after Donalyn Miller’s recent Nerdy Book Club post about “book pauses” ( http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/hit-pause-by-donalyn-miller/, as I used to only read one book at a time, but lately have been moving toward multiples, based on the time I have to read, my level of concentration, level of “need” (whether the need to get it read for somebody or something external or my “need” for a particular book at a particular time) or other reasons. I used to think that it was not possible to do justice to multiple books at a time, but now find it works for me. It was not surprising to see that in their wild readers survey children had narrower reading interests than adults- I think this is really only a lack of exposure to lots of good choices. It was a good reminder to me to make sure that I am introducing students to many different kinds of text and not limit them by my own interests. I also needed the reminder to keep reading widely outside of my own natural interests, as I have to be a good reading model and advisor and that is so much more effective when I know my stuff. Children also seem to have preferences that are less fixed than adults (which is great!). Several of her other points I have also observed first hand, such as that children often have an interest in reading deeply from an author or genre, have a strong preference for non-fiction over fiction (or vice verse), may have a preference for other types of reading (such as graphic novels, magazines, or internet), and a preference for rereading favorites. All of these were in evidence in our classroom this past year.

I also liked the part that reminded us that as teachers we are seeing more and more about nonfiction and we have to find ways to get kids motivated to access this and increase their skills. I liked her ideas of ways to do this via using these texts more often for book talks, as mentor texts, as part of a paired set, and in general sharing and appreciating nonfiction more.

Something new for me to implement this year is the reading habits conference. I think this has the potential to be really beneficial for me as the teacher and for the students as they work on reflection and goal setting.

Appendices

I have used many of these forms in the last year. I want to get better about getting students to use the “Books to Read” list. I also want to try out the reading itinerary questionnaire, the selection reflection, an the reading influences survey. I wish I had used the end of year reading habits survey, because it really gets to the heart of what I hope for the readers in our classroom.

As I begin work at a new school this year I am hoping that I will get a few other teachers in my building to work on bringing more of the goals of this book to our students. I found rereading it as I start to think about this year really helpful.

I can’t wait to read what everyone else is thinking this week!

Happy reading!

#cyberPD- Week 2- Reading in the Wild

This week I continue a three week promise to blog! I have been pathetic about blogging lately, so maybe this will get me started again. This is the fourth annual #cyberPD fun. I missed the first year, but have read the archives and have actively participated since. I know I get way more than I give with this enterprise, but I love to reflect, so here I am.
You can follow the fun (and even participate) by connecting here:

July 9th: Chapters 1 & 2 here at Reflect and Refine
July 16th: Chapters 3 & 4 hosted by Laura at Ruminate and Invigorate
July 23rd: Chapters 5 & 6 hosted by Michelle Nero at Literacy Learning Zone
To Be Announced: July 30th @ 8 p.m. EST

Yikes! With all of the flurry of the last week I almost forgot that today was Wednesday, but it is later here than it likely is wherever you read this, so phew, I did it!

Chapter 3- Wild Readers Share Books and Reading With Other Readers

I am sooo happy to be rereading this book just before starting another school year. What I really appreciate is that the blog posts we all write are great notes for me to review now and throughout the year as I work with a new group of readers.

Reminders for me:

I have to plan for more time for informal book sharing. I do include time for formal book talks, etc, but this informal time is often lost. I am worried about my classroom books not being there for the start of the year (they will arrive in the second or third week), but now I think I can use this as a time to build anticipation- I can ask the kids what books they hope we will unpack, what books are missing from the classroom, etc and take it from there (plus today I explored the local book shop- kaching- 5 books bought:). I want to make a book door again this year to start the school year- I did it last year for the first time and it promoted so many great conversations. Then I would like to turn over that space to student volunteers to share their reading life in some way (I did a Reader of the Week the year before, inspired by Colby Sharp (@colbysharp), but I would like to open it up even more. The reminders that we are building a forever community of readers is a great point- I love that former students come back for recommendations and hope this will continue even though I am far away. I also appreciate the reminder that we have to flood parents with pro reading messages too. I often tell my students that even if their parents don’t help them find reading time, they can d o it- but it would be so much easier if more parents were on board (and maybe all I have to do is ask them to be a part of our reading community). The list of benefits of building a reading community really spoke to me as I have just left many of my tribe in Berlin. The online options are always good for those of us who move around, or just want more ways to connect. This chapter reminded me again to make sure I make the reasons for having a “to be read” list more explicit. Finally, the section on conferring was useful, as I am always trying to improve my systems, especially for record keeping.

Chapter 4- Wild Readers Have Reading Plans

I have done better about working with mys students on making them responsible for having reading goals (which was a new idea for me years ago). I love sitting down and sharing goals before breaks and a highlight of one of our last days of school this year was sharing their summer reading plans (complete with the why, what, where, with whom, and when of summer reading). I want to have more sessions with my students about the different types of reading goals the book suggests. I want to tweak the 40 Book Challenge again this year in my class- I was not good about emphasizing the variety of reading in their diet. As for myself, as I planned my move I knew that books would make my new home feel like home, so most of my classroom books are on their way here. I saved some books to read on the long flights (both paper and Kindle form). I also started a list of books I would look for at the bookstore in my new city. Today being my first whole day in town I did what any Nerdy Book Club member could understand- I went to the bookstore- it is a great way to see some of the local sights (and yes, I bought some books and got a membership card). A relatively new pleasure I have discovered is that the public library I belong to in the US allows me to borrow audio books and Kindle versions- I LOVE this!

I can’t wait to read what everyone else is thinking this week!

Happy reading!

#cyberPD- Week 1- Reading in the Wild

This week I begin a three week promise to blog! I have been pathetic about blogging lately, so maybe this will get me started again. This is the beginning of the fourth annual #cyberPD fun. I missed the first year, but have read the archives and have actively participated since. I know I get way more than I give with this enterprise, but I love to reflect, so here I am.
You can follow the fun (and even participate) by connecting here:

July 9th: Chapters 1 & 2 here at Reflect and Refine
July 16th: Chapters 3 & 4 hosted by Laura at Ruminate and Invigorate
July 23rd: Chapters 5 & 6 hosted by Michelle Nero at Literacy Learning Zone
To Be Announced: July 30th @ 8 p.m. EST

I was one of the ones who rushed to read this book as soon as it was published, and boy am I glad. I read The Book Whisperer a few years ago and follow Donalyn on Twitter, but it was great to get a more in-depth look at what actually happens in her classroom.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the clear link to research. I have friends who are in schools where independent reading time is not valued- bam- I have research to support their beliefs. I have friends who feel they do not have time for read alouds-bam- here is why it matters so much. It is also great to be able to use this information in parent workshops too. Reading time is a guarantee in our class and there can never be enough time! It was impressive to see the students’ stamina for this build over the year.

I have used the workshop approach for years in our classroom, but I am always looking for improvements, so I appreciated chapter 1, where there were examples galore. This summer I have found the idea of “edge” reading personally powerful. I am preparing for a huge move across the world and my time for reading is much less than it has been in previous summers. I always make sure I have a book (or my Kindle) with me and while running errands related to my move I have been able to get lots read. In class we talked about this too and it was great to see how many students started taking a book to lunch with them!We used book talks and book commercials a lot this year. Students really enjoyed using Animoto and a few other apps to jazz these up. Conferences are a high point of my day. I use CAFE and Daily 5 (http://www.thedailycafe.com/ and having student input into their reading goals has been powerful.

I used a revised version of Donalyn’s 40 Book Challenge the year before last and tweaked it this year, using her star rating system for kids to quickly reflect on their reading. As a class we kept a list of the texts we shared, but in rereading the book I realize I did not keep track of articles, poems, and other shorter texts- next year! Personally I use Goodreads and when 2014 started I shared my yearly goal with my students, voila, they wanted to make their own.

The section about readers self-selecting was so key. I have visited other classrooms where students could choose to read any book in the box they were assigned- happily my students do not have these limits. What I love is that as the students share the books they are reading their classmates broaden what they think they would like to read. Note to self- I have to get better about having kids keep a list of books they would like to read next. The section on curating a classroom library was important to me. I have a very large classroom library- all purchased by me. As I prepared to leave my current school colleagues were coming by to get a look at the books I have so that they could enlarge their own libraries. I was actively involved in helping my grade-level partner order books for the grade for next year. I also made a decision that the shipping allowance my next school provided would primarily go to shipping my books. I did take time to weed out some books before I left- and that is hard! My books will not be at school at the start of the year, so I am trying to keep an open mind to the new books I may meet. I admit I have already researched book stores in Kuala Lumpur and know where I have to go to look for next reads. Happily a family at my old school has gifted me with a certificate, so I have a reason to go there quickly after landing. I know there are lots of great books waiting for me and the readers I will meet on August 7th.

I know this post was kind of random- I blame it on moving brain. The apartment I am leaving is now freshly painted and I have just 4 1/2 days to jet off- hopefully next week will be more focused. In the meantime I look forward to reading what others have to say about this great book.

Happy reading!