Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Book Whisperer- Chapter 2 Thoughts and Q&A

We are rolling along now! First of all, I want to say happy summer to all of my teaching friends here in Ontario. Today was the last day of school....finally! I know everyone is excited for their well deserved break and what better way to start than with Canada Day tomorrow? Happy Birthday Canada!

Now on to Chapter 2.... Scroll to the bottom to see the information about how to ask Donalyn Miller a question about Chapters 1 - 2.

I love the idea of going into the school just assuming everyone is a reader. Love. It. Because if you really think about it, everyone is. My dad would never call himself a reader and yet he reads a minimum of three newspapers, cover to cover, everyday. I am not even sure I find the time to sit down with my current novel everyday to do that much reading. My husband has never read a book- at least not in the 10+ years I have known him, and yet he will read article after article on sports. Everyone is a reader, just the mediums are different.

I have a little confession though...the idea of a free for all book frenzy at the start of the year gives me the heebie jeebies. I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to organization and my classroom. If we ever get the chance to meet and have coffee  face-to-face, ask me about my experience going in my portable last week to pack up the materials I left for the long-term supply while I am on mat leave..... sigh. I think I will attempt a variation of this activity in my classroom, however, because I really like the idea of starting the year off with books. I think I will create a tub of books with a variety of genres and levels, one tub per group. Each morning of the first week the students will have an opportunity to browse through the tub at their table group and choose books to read. Each day I will rotate the tubs to a different group so everyone gets a chance at all the books. Frenzy contained...just the way I like it! LOL

I enjoyed reading Miller's more positive descriptions of the types of readers we may encounter in our classroom and I think it helps frame a dialogue for how to help these students much better than the more common negative labels. I especially connected with the passage on page 25 where Miller talks about how developing readers actually read 75 % less than their peers! How can they learn to read if they are taken out of reading class and have no chance to read? Crazy.

I think the biggest group in any classroom is the dormant readers. So many children have an innate love of ready....until school gets its claws into them and drills that love away with worksheets, questions, and book reports. Unless they continue to see reading as something to be done for pleasure, either at home or by the teacher, it's no wonder so many kids just give up on reading altogether. I mean no one ever makes them do a worksheet after they play a videogame!

The biggest surprise of this chapter for me was the 40 book! NOTE:  For many of you...I know you have read ahead!! And so have I, but in case there are people out there that haven't make sure you stick to what's been said in Chapter 2 on the subject on 40 books. We'll get to the later chapters soon enough! Promise!! What do you think about this? Would it work in your grade? Classroom? School? How would you approach it with your students? Scary thoughts...? I did start to have less misgivings about this requirement  when I got to page 35 where Miller writes about Brian Cambourne's Conditions for Learning and the fact that students will rise to the teacher's expectations. If you expect them to read 40 books I do believe that most will. Or at least most will try. much to think about and it's only Chapter 2. I am loving this book.

Discussion Questions:
1) Would you start the year off with a book frenzy similar to Miller's or would you adapt it?
2) What were your impressions of Miller's more positive descriptions of the three types of readers?
3) 40 books!!! What do you think of that??

I am going to put up a linky party again so that if people want to find other posts on this same subject they have a place to find a variety of ideas!!

Lastly, and most importantly... do you have any questions for Donalyn Miller? Leave your question and name in a comment below. I will be forwarding all the questions on to Donalyn and she is going to choose approximately 10 to answer. How fun!

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Chapter 2

We are continuing our read along of The Book Whisperer- Chapter 2 over at these fabulous blogs! Make sure you check it out.

Extra Special Teaching

Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

And don't forget to come back here and post your questions for Donalyn Miller!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chapter 1: The Aha Moment!

Did you feel it as soon as you started reading? I sure did. It felt like I could have been writing this book. Donalyn Miller was saying everything I have felt about my reading program since the start of my teaching...and I always knew there was a better way. The first chapter of The Book Whisperer just grabbed my attention and made me sit up. I found the brightest highlighter I could, I got out my trusty post-it notes and just dove right in!

As I started to highlight the chapter (and now there is so much yellow in my copy!) I knew I wanted to find a way to really express my impressions and thoughts visually from my reading...being a visual learner and all. So I turned to Wordle- what a fantastic idea Wordle is! I typed out all the parts I fell in love with and here's what came up! Click on the image to see it in full size.

Wordle: The Book Whisperer: Chapter 1

So what did I use for my Wordle? So glad that you asked...!

First of all, I love the title of Chapter 1- There and Back Again! The fantasy, Hobbit-loving geek in me was just smiling from ear to ear when I saw it. I also think it really shows how we as teachers are continually learning and growing. I don't know what it's like in your boards/districts but in mine we often do PD around this great new initiative that is going to revolutionize our teaching, when really it is often the same tried and true strategies with a new name. (My personal fave is "purposeful talk"- that's what we do whenever we have a meeting! Seriously?? Oh brother...). This is also what has drawn me into this book so quickly- the idea that to get kids to be better readers they need time to read! Yes! Yes! Yes!

On page 10 Miller states, "My identity as a person is so entwined with my love of reading and books that  I cannot separate the two." It's like she reached into my soul and described me. I loved it. When people ask me to describe myself, or who I am I usually start with teacher, or reader. I have long felt that teaching is not what I do it's who I am. To describe myself as a reader is almost not enough. It's not a hobby, or a pastime. It's me. This is the love of reading that I want to pass along to my students.

Here are some of my other favourite quotations from Chapter 1 that I used to create my inspiration Wordle...

(page 11) "I know from personal experience that readers lead richer lives, more lives, than those who don't read."

(page 15) "I must a source of knowledge that my students access while learning how to read and write."

(page 16) "I discovered that it was my job as a teacher to equip the travelers, teach them how to read a map, and show them what to do when they get lost, but ultimately, the journey is theirs alone."

And finally, this was by far the biggest aha moment of Chapter 1 for me.  I plan to create a poster of some kind with this quote from Miller to display in my classroom. What an amazing thought.

"Reading changes your life. Reading unlocks worlds unknown, or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time. Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education. Through characters- the saints and sinners, real or imagined- reading shows you how to be a better human being"
~Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer (p. 18)

Now it's your turn!!

Discussion Ideas: 
(Feel free to use these to help with your own posts if you want!)
How did you feel as you started reading? What were your first thoughts, connections, insights?
Were you like me and finally felt as though you had found someone who was speaking your language?
Which part jumped out at you and made you say "aha!!, I knew it"?

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Chapter 1

  • June 27- 30th: Introduction and Chapter 1
Check out these fantastic blogs that are hosting the kickoff of our read along!

Thinking of Teaching
Don't forget about the Wordle linky party!!

Rowdy in First Grade

Lessons Learned

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Read Along Questions

1) What is your favourite book (or series) from childhood?
I love Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. Love. It. I reread the entire series every year if possible. I also loved The Little House on the Prairie  series and Little Women.

2) What is your favourite book (or series) now?
I love everything that is historical fiction and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series is fantastic. There really isn't much I won't read to be perfectly honest.

3) What is your opinion of e-readers?
My husband just came home with the Kobo (Canada) for me and so far I am loving it but I can't imagine giving up real books forever. Especially picture books for my little one! It's going to be interesting to see how much of my reading moves to the Kobo and how much stays traditional. I am very excited toknow, however, that I can get library books on my ereader!

4) Finish this sentence: "On Sundays I like to..."
Relax and hang out with my family. During the school year I usually end up doing some marking or planning.

5) Describe yourself in 5 words!
Organized. Reader. Mom. Wife. Planner.

6) Hardcover or paperback? Why?
Both really. If I have been waiting forever for a book to be released I won't wait for the paperback version, or if I know I will read it many, many times then it's hardcover all the way. If I am buying lots or keeping an eye on the budget (!) then paperback.

7) Coffee or Tea?
Coffee...everyday. EVERYDAY!! I have a Keurig machine that I just adore. Tea, however, is for when I am feeling sick.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Getting to Know Donalyn Miller

Only three days until we start The Book Whisperer Read Along! It's getting exciting now.

To tide you over for the next few days Donalyn Miller, the author of The Book Whisperer, has answered a few questions so that we can all get to know her a little better.

BUT FIRST...some even MORE exciting news. Donalyn is going to answer your questions as well! Twice during our read along you will have the opportunity to post a question here on my blog, I will email them to Donalyn and then she is going to pick 10 or so to answer! How great, right? We will get the information straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak)!.

Your first chance to post your questions will be from July 1-4th (we will have read Chapters 1-2) and I will post up the answers around July 8th.

Then we will repeat the whole process a second time- questions will be posted from July 24th-27th and then the answers will be posted around August 2nd.

Now on to the interview!

1) What is your favourite book (or series) from childhood? 

First off, asking me to name my favorite books is like asking me to pick my favorite child if I had 100. Some of my childhood favorites were Wilder's Little House books and anything by Marguerite Henry. I was obsessed with horses at the time and wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up--I think I made the right choice, though.

2) What is your favourite book (or series) now? 
My favorite adult series would be the Tuesday Next books by Jasper Fforde. It combines two things that I love-- science fiction and metafiction (books about books). I feel smart when I recognize Fforde's literary allusions to other books and I adore all things British. In young adult literature, my favorite series is also by a British author, Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking series. Hands down the best YA books I have read. Haunting. Powerful.

3) What is your opinion of e-readers? 
I own a Kindle. I appreciate it as a tool. When traveling, carrying a Kindle saves me from hauling 15 books in my suitcase. I see the value in e-readers for kids, too. I know that reading on an electronic device might motivate some dormant readers. The ability to manipulate font size, look up words, and annotate text customizes the reading experience, too. Having said that, I am waiting for the e-reader that releases a paper smell when you turn it on and sounds like the crack of a spine when you open the book. For me, reading is a sensory experience, and I miss the visual and tactile aspects of reading a paper book when I use my Kindle. I read a lot of books that I want to share, too, and this is difficult to do with an e-reader. Most of the children's and YA literature I read I still buy in paper form, so I can pass these books to kids.

4) Finish this sentence: "On Sundays I like to..." 
On Sundays, I like to avoid grading the student work I brought home on Friday. During the summer, I like to go for walks with my husband and youngest daughter, work in the yard, and curl up in my overstuffed chair to read.

5) Describe yourself in 5 words! 
Married a reader. Lifelong bliss.

6) Hardcover or paperback? Why? 
Hardcover or paperback? It depends. I find it hard to read mass-market paperback editions of long books like Harry Potter. The print is too small and the book is too thick to hold comfortably with a thumb. Paperbacks are cheaper, but I have no problem buying a hardcover edition of a new book I'm desperate to read.

7) Coffee or Tea? 
COFFEE. I drink an insane amount of coffee-- even in the evenings. I pack my own coffee pods, creamer, and Splenda for trips. The first thing I want to know when I visit a place is the location of the nearest Starbucks. It's bad. I know.

8) What has been the best thing about writing The Book Whisperer? 
The best thing about writing The Book Whisperer is that it has provided me the opportunity to travel and meet amazing teachers from all over the world. I continually learn and grow as a teacher when I talk with colleagues about what they are doing with their students.

Want to join in on the fun? Answer the following 7 questions and then link up to your blog post!!

1) What is your favourite book (or series) from childhood?

2) What is your favourite book (or series) now?

3) What is your opinion of e-readers?

4) Finish this sentence: "On Sundays I like to..."

5) Describe yourself in 5 words!

6) Hardcover or paperback? Why?

7) Coffee or Tea?

We will save question #8 for the end of the read along and then everyone can answer what was the best thing about reading The Book Whisperer! Looking forward to your answers.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Schedule

Are you ready? Do you have your book? Listed below you will find the schedule for The Book Whisperer  read along. If you want to read ahead- that's great! If you get behind (it is summer after all)- no worries! We just want to have some fun, read together and of course...LEARN!
June 13th- 26th
Kick-off Giveaway!
To help everybody get just a little more excited I am hosting a giveaway to kick-off the read along. Head on over to this link to check out all the details. 
I will also be participating/hosting throughout the entire read along 
right here at Thinking of Teaching.

Thinking of Teaching

You can also see the schedule here in Google Docs form.
June 27- 30th
Introduction and 
Chapter 1: There and Back Again
July 1st- 4th
Chapter 2: Everybody is a Reader
July 5th- 7th
Whisper: Surveys
Shannon- 6th Grade Scott Foresman Reading Street Resources

Brenda- Primary Inspired

July 8th- 11th
Chapter 3: There's a Time and a Place
July 11th- 15th SPECIAL EVENT
"How does The Book Whisperer connect to homeschooling?"
July 12th- 15th
Chapter 4 : Reading Freedom

Lynda- Curls and a Smile

Mandy- A Special Kind of Class

July 16th- 18th
Whisper: Reader’s Notebooks
July 19th- 23rd
Chapter 5 : Walking the Walk
July 24th- 27th
Chapter 6 : Cutting the Teacher Strings
July 27th- 29th
Whisper: Year End Evaluations
July 30th- Aug 2nd
Chapter 7: Letting Go
Aug 2nd- 6th
Appendixes and Celebration

Beth- Thinking of Teaching (that's me!)

Thinking of Teaching

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Book Whisperer Read Along

Hello! Are you here to learn more about The Book Whisperer Read Along? Well, you are at the right place. 

Please click on the Page Tab above with the title The Book Whisperer Read Along to check out all the information. We will be starting on June 27th so make sure you have your book ready to go.

Can't wait to read and learn with all of you.

**Keep your eyes out for a fabulous button to go celebrate our read along. Coming soon from one of the talented TBA authors**
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