Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Finishing Up The Book Whisperer

"The reality is that you cannot inspire others to do what you are not inspired to do yourself."

     One of the nicest teachers I have ever worked with told me once she did not read much to her class.  She didn't read at all personally outside of class.  I went into a sort of shock.  How can we not be readers?  Okay, I know people don't have a lot of time with families and all.  I understand that.  I guess I have such a love of reading - a passion for books, that I simply can't understand anyone not enjoying it.
    This past year on the last day of school, I told my class we were going to do some packing because I was indeed going to be moving rooms and changing jobs.  The first question was "Are you going to fourth with us?"  That would be sweet, but no.  So I told them I was going to not be in a regular classroom, but doing something I had a passion for.  Then I asked them to guess.  They know their teacher.  The first guess was art.  Sadly, no.  The second guess was reading books.  As I said they know me. 
     I plan to do as much read aloud as I can work in.  One of her suggestions was to read the book and have students follow along in their copies.  That would work.  I also use the doc camera to read books to children.  Using that I can point out words, punctuation and it allows a better view of the pictures if there are any.
     I thought it was amusing when she talked about how we would watch much less TV if we had to take a test at the end of the programs.  Yuck!  AR programs and worksheets are great.  Sometimes.  Talking about what you have read, demonstrating an understanding by discussions are better.  After all, people who read as adults participate in discussions not tests.  What always used to really bother me was how AR (accelerated reader) was such a huge push in my school.  Students shied away from books if they were not on their level and they couldn't take a test.  We teachers did this to them.  If I tell my class they have to have "X" number of points by Friday or whenever, I force them into only looking at the points.  Trust me, I am not pointing fingers at other teachers.  Oh no.  I ran the most organized AR system in my room you could want.  And hated it.  Children couldn't grab a fun (lower level) book because it looked good or interested them.  They couldn't grab a harder book and struggle with it a bit because they thought it looked good.  They were locked in a spot until they could test higher. 
     Until our awesome librarian fixed this!  Go RH!  She came up with a huge list of options to do a book reflection.  They could, if they chose, take an AR test.  They also could choose from this list.  The list reflected all sorts of learning styles - reports, pictures, writing songs, acting things out, you name it.  And this allowed children to read what they wanted.  She has a wonderful system to encourage them to read and be held accountable. 
     There are so many more things in this book that I really identified with and will put to practice.  If you work with children and reading, it is a must read.  Maybe even if you don't.  Now I need to order Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess.  It looks like a really good read.  That is, when I get through with the stack of library books I have by my bed. 
     Pretty soon (all too soon), I will be sharing with you my journey into this reading classroom.  Drop back by to see some pictures of my room!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Back at it! Chapters 4 and 5

        One of the things discussed in Chapter 4 of The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller was setting up a reading notebook.  In the past while in the classroom, I always used reading notebooks - to some varying degrees of success.  I am not sure what I need or want to do as a resource teacher.  They will probably have notebooks in their regular classroom so I don't want to overload them.  However some type of accountability is needed.  I sort of go back and forth at how I want to use this.  I do want to have a reading requirement.  Miller uses a requirement of 40 books.  I will have grades 2 - 5.  I am thinking of having 25 for second and going up by 5 each grade.  That may not be doable at all.  I have no idea what my students are like or capable of.  I do want it to be a challenge.  I like how she talks about not . . . "punishing" them for not making their goal, but simply celebrating their success whatever it may have been.  That I really like.
     She begins to probe in chapter 5 by asking, "what does reading mean to you?"  Just today, I went to our local library and checked out a stack of books.  I read constantly.  I read professional material.  I love mysteries and science fiction and most anything else.  I have always been a reader, more at home with books (and my art work) than with most people. 
     Two types of readers (teachers) are discussed.  Efferent readers/teachers.  They are the ones who see reading as way to acquire knowledge and more skills to be mastered.  The other group, aesthetic readers, are the ones who see reading as an emotional and intellectual journey.  One sees reading as a gift, the other as a goal.  I think to be successful next year I am going to have to "marry" the two together.  My future students are going to be in need of heavy skill work - we've got to "catch up", but I also want them to come away from this upcoming year as seeing reading as a gift, a passion.
     Thank you for dropping by.  I think my art blog has spoiled me with my followers and comments.  I come over here and feel a bit lonely.  So, if you would like to leave me some sunshine, I would love it.  Have a grand week!