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.