Thursday, July 17, 2014

Reading in the Wild Reflections: Part 2

       I just finished reading the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth about a week ago (this was a binge read for me).   On pg. 96 Donalyn Miller has a great quote from the book Divergent about communities.  Here is the quote: "To live fractionless is not just to live in poverty and discomfort; it is to live divorced from society, separated from the most important thing in life: community."  We all strive to be part of a community, so that we can continue to grow as a person by collaborating, reflecting, and cherishing each moment that helps us maintain and create our identity.  I mentioned in my first post that I want my students to be active members within a reading and writing community.  Donalyn says on pg. 89, "What my students learn is important, but the conditions that allow learning to happen concern me more.  Successful communities require cultivation, and I spend a lot of time forging relationships with my students and helping them connect to each other. I am the one who- with the help of my students- constructs the classroom environment." 

Keeping the Faith: A must when considering learning conditions:
     As an effective literacy teacher I need to continue to have faith in books and kids.  Penny Kittle, author of, Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina and Passion in Adolescent Readers reminds me of this.  On pg. 1 in her book she says, "Teenagers want to read - if we let them."  Well, I believe all kids want to read - if we let them.   Penny continues to say on pg. 1, "Students who I believe are committed nonreaders become committed, passionate readers given the right books, time to read, and regular responses to their thinking."  I know that I can help students find books that they will love and share with others.  I hope that as we get to know each other and who we are as readers, we can realize how the books help us define who we are and what we are seeking for. 

How will I start to build a reading community right from the beginning?
      I love the idea of creating a reading door posting all the books I read over the summer.  I am going to also post some reading quotes for the children to enjoy.  I think this will be a great way to connect instantly with students as I start to build some relationships with my students on Meet the Teacher Night.  
     I want to start the first few weeks of school by setting the tone that we will read - lots and lots of books!  I will spark readers interest in books by talking about five or six books a day during the first few weeks of school.  Penny Kittle says, "I want to put a lot of titles out there.  I need to help the many students out there who will struggle to find a book at first."  I have always done book talks in my classroom but I think it is so smart to hit it strong in the beginning.  I am also going to spice up my book talks by reading a preselected short passage and by recording the book talk books near the library in our classroom.  I loved these ideas from Penny Kittle.  After book talks are up and running I will seek out other teachers, students, and colleagues to do book talks in the room to keep our reading community thriving with talk around books, and students will decide which books to add their "to-be-read" list and piles.  Book talks will also open the pathway to talking with the students on how readers make reading plans.

Ideas to implement to help foster the reading community:

  • Graffiti Wall - a wall dedicated to selecting and sharing lines and words from books that stand out is absolutely priceless.  I already know that I am going to pick lines from the books titled A Snicker of Magic and Absolutely Almost.  
  • Global Read Aloud - this is my first time participating in GRA and I am so excited to do it.  I plan on connecting with other classrooms using Edomodo.  I am going to read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.  Kate DiCamillo is an author I really want my students to know.
  • Book Commercials - Donalyn Miller says these are impromptu testimonials about books that students and the teacher present.  I think that students could use technology as a way to share their commercials with the class. I really love how Donalyn Miller invites other students to share their impressions on the book if they have read it.
  • Skyping with authors - every grade level Skyped with an author last year and I found that once the Skype was over students were reading and discussing books by that author.  The authors we Skyped with were Aaron Reynolds, Bob Shea, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Nicola Davies, and Kate Messner.  This was a powerful way to spark interest in books which lead to some great discussions. I was so impressed with all the authors willing to connect with students and teachers in Skype in the Classroom Community.  

    Reflecting on book clubs:
      Last year I had book clubs with third graders and fourth graders during lunch.  My fourth graders were developing readers who needed to not only more read books but they really needed the time to discuss the books.  They were the readers who constantly had trouble selecting books to read next.  I would do book talks about possible books to read next for our book club and they would discuss the books with each other and then we would decide as a group.  I always let them decide how much reading to read each week.  They always picked smaller chunks to read than my third graders.  After reading the quote on pg. 144, Donalyn says, "For students who struggle to finish books or commit to reading, setting small goals helps them achieve success quickly and rack up positive reading experiences, which feed more reading."  These students needed to feel success and once they did it really feed into reading more.  If we would read the first book in a series, I would notice some of the students checking out the next book in the library and their excitement when they would be the first to finish so someone else could read it next. Sometimes the group would split if we had two books they really wanted to read.  At the end of the year I asked them what they enjoyed most about book club and one of my students who really just struggled to read said he enjoyed hearing every one's different perspectives.  After he made that comment I felt like all the struggles and encouraging it took all year had paid off for Rui.  My faith in books and students once again came through.  He found more time to read at home and he read more than last year.  Most of the students would talk about how they enjoyed picking the books together and knowing that any confusing parts would be discussed at book club.  While I know I was just a small part of their reading community I am so glad that I was a part of helping them reach goals by reading and discussing more books than they ever had.
     My third graders would read twice the amount of books as my fourth graders and they enjoyed blogging about the books so that their thoughts could be shared outside of book club.  They constantly would push me and each other.  These students are the epicenter readers in their classes and book club for them offered the opportunity to challenge each other.  Some of them needed to experience new genres and some of them needed the opportunity to talk more about books because they were very quiet and shy.  I realize how important epicenter readers are to the reading community and how their passion and love for books can be contagious to others.  As a reader I have epicenter readers through twitter and I have epicenter readers who are my colleagues.  I need to help identify who will be epicenter readers in my classroom so they can thrive in our classroom reading community but I also want them to find epicenter readers via social media.

Fostering School and Home Reading Communities (pgs. 91-93):
     Donalyn had so many great ideas to help bridge our reading community at school to the students' homes so that parents can help contribute.  I loved some of these ideas found on pgs. 92 and 93...

  • Include reading recommendations and tips into weekly newsletters and websites.
  • Add a weekly book recommendation to your e-mail signature.
  • Have students, the teacher and school librarian create quarterly book lists to share with parents who are looking for gift ideas, vacation reading, and library guides.
  • Teach parents simple ways to incorporate more reading into family routines.             

    I know that I also included quotes from Penny Kittle's book but it really is great to read her book along with Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild.  Penny even quotes Donalyn in her book.  I learned so many ways from these ladies on how to build a strong reading community that fosters relationships with every reader in my classroom.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Reading in the Wild Reflections

"Books are my friends, my companions.  They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life." -Christopher Paolini

     This is my first time participating in #cyberPD and it has been so refreshing to go back and reread Donalyn Miller's book titled Reading in the Wild.  As a literacy coach, who is going to be spending half my day in the classroom next year it gave me lots of fuel to think about as I plan how I will meet the diverse needs of my third graders.  I really need to keep in mind the words I have underlined and read so many times on pg. 8, "No matter what our curriculum requires us to to teach or how little class time we have, children must read a lot in order to attain even minimum levels of reading achievement."  It will be a challenge to meet all the diverse needs of my students and to help more than half of them attain minimum reading achievement. A challenge I look forward to facing and reflecting about daily as the year progresses.  As I prioritize my "must-haves" I know that blocking out a significant amount of independent reading time is desperately needed to help my students gain the confidence and stamina needed to grow into lifelong readers.  I really want my students to see books as companions that help them find meaning just the like the quote by Christopher Paolini says at the beginning of my post.  Donalyn talks about how daily reading time allows students to practice their skills, as well as, practice living like readers.   She also says that students connect with other readers establishing a reading culture.  That is what I am striving to achieve in my classroom a reading community that talks a lot about books which will grow and thrive into a strong reading culture.  This is my dream!

    As I work hard to achieve my reading community there will be road bumps and challenges.  My biggest challenge will be pull outs for my ELL students and my students who receive Title services.  Donalyn Miller says, "Administrators, literacy coaches, specialists and teachers must consider the importance of this reading culture when determining how and when to serve special education and at-risk students. Too often reading intervention specialists pull out students who require additional reading support out of class during independent reading time (pg.10)."  Last year we tried to be more mindful of when we pulled students out of class and we tried to be more purposeful aligning instruction that mirrors what was happening in the classroom.  I tried to build upon the talk around books that was happening in the classroom and bring it into the small group.  This required lots and lots of communication with the teachers and with the students.  We would discuss not only reading strategies and skills, but books the students were reading.  We would celebrate the student who finished his/her first chapter book and the student who was learning about himself/herself as a reader.  As teachers we knew we needed to think about the reading test and the skills needed to pass the test but we also knew we wanted much more from our students... we wanted them to become wild readers! 

   I know that as I strive to reach my dream of a thriving community of readers there are some habits and behaviors I need to help students understand that avid readers do.  Donalyn's books have inspired me to be a more avid reader as an adult and to use breaks/vacations as a time to read lots and lots of books.  Here are some quotes from Reading in the Wild that I need to revisit closer to the beginning of the year as I strive to build a reading community:

  • It is difficult for many children to become wild readers if they don't read during the edge times.  But if they don't have frequent reading time, reading habits never take hold.  Teaching specific students to find reading time outside school requires explicit conversations about their individual schedules and how reading fits into it (pg.13). 
  • Captivated and interested readers make time to read (pg.17). 
  • Having students document for a short period of time when and where they read help students reflect on their reading habits and determine patterns they might not recognize day to day (pg.18). 
  • Fake reading and reading avoidance commonly occur when students lack independent reading habits, confidence, or adequate reading skills (pg.25).
  • We need to do more than catch students who are fake reading and call them on it.  We need to intervene and provide individual support (pg.26).  
  • Regular reflection reinforces the importance of keeping notebooks, but increased technology, larger class sizes, and my commitment to fostering wild reading behaviors have changed our notebook use.  The tools we use must support our work as readers and writers, not define or limit our work (pg. 33). 
  • What matters is that our daily work in the classroom values best practices and doesn't become bogged down with a lot of must-dos and tired activities that crowd authentic learning opportunities for our students (pg. 40). 
  • In order to develop strong literacy skills, our students need reading, writing, and discussion --and lots of it (pg.40).
    I look forward to meeting and learning along side my third graders next year as we embark on a journey to create a strong reading community developing into wild readers!