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"?

12 Brilliant Teaching Thoughts:

Rebecca Rojas said...

I love the quote that you want to put up as a poster! How inspiring! I have been looking for a quote to copy and put into my students' Book Lover's Books as the first page. Now that you've brought it to my attention, I think I have found it!

Beth said...

Ohhh...Book Lover's Books...this sounds like something I need to hear more about!

Tara said...

HELP!! I made a Wordle to go with my post but have no clue how to get it on my blog.....everything I tried didn't work:(

Tara said...

Thanks bunches!!! Got it!!

Mrs. Morris said...

Tara: you have to click at the bottom right "Save to public gallery." Then it will provide you with the html code.

Kelli Beason said...


Would love your ideas on reader's workshop! Hope to see your follow my blog and post some.

Beth said...


I plan to blog about my reading program later in the summer when we have finished The Book Whisperer (or maybe as we go along) and when I finish rereading the Daily 5 book!

Kelli Beason said...

Ok sounds good! I teach 3rd grade so not sure if the Daily 5 book would be good for me. Thanks

Beth said...

The Daily 5 is for elementary aged so Grade 3 is perfect! Check it out.

JenniferL said...

I feel the same way about our districts PD. Most of the time I think, "Why can't you just let me do my job?!" Our district is also very strict about following the state standards for the number of minutes you spend teaching each subject. After just the first chapters I'm thinking I need to be craftier with my time to give my students more opportunities to read!
Rowdy in First Grade

Kelli Beason said...


I am having a giveaway over on my blog! Check it out!

Rebecca Rojas said...

Hi Beth,
The Book Lover's Books are something my grade level partner and I are trying to put together for next year. They are based on the ideas of Leslie Blauman in her book, The Inside Guide to the Reading-Writing Classroom. We are trying to create a book (binder) where students can respond to independent and whole group reading. It will also be a place to take and keep notes from reading/writing lessons. Plus, they will keep lists (books they've read and want to read, strong verbs and adjectives they come across, favorite quotes, etc). It will pretty much include everything to do with reading and writing in and out of the classroom. I will continue to post more about it as my partner and I finalize our sample books.

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