Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chapter 6- Cutting the Teacher Strings

Just a reminder to everyone that I am away at the cottage (I know, such a hard life!) so I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything is going to work for this post!

Cutting the teacher strings...letting go... yikes! That's always the hardest part, eh?

I have always tried very hard to make sure that reading never felt like school work in my classroom. How can something so amazing be work? I do recognize though that for many students that's exactly what it is. I think we are very lucky here in Ontario because we do not have the scripted programs that are mandated. When you switch schools it is rare sometimes that the exact same resources are available. Teachers are very open to choosing what we teach and how we teach.

In my first year teaching I taught at a private school and taught Language Arts to Grade 5, 6, 7, and 8! I taught a full class novel study to every class. More than once. It's how I was taught so it's how I taught. It was awful! Since then the only whole class novel I have continued to teach in The Outsiders in Grade 7. I love it. They love it. It's the only one that seems to work...for me, anyway. After reading The Book Whisperer I can't imagine ever doing a whole class novel study again. What. A. Waste. Of. Time. More is better and I would rather my students have the chance to read as much as possible.

The best part of this chapter for me came on page 127:
Teaching Readers, Not Books 

Doesn't that just say it all? Doesn't it.

I love that Miller approaches this chapter and illustrates a variety of different alternatives to the traditional approaches teachers have used to teach "books" but I think basically it all boils down to teaching "readers". I think that some of the traditional approaches can still work it just boils down to the students you are teaching in any given year. As a teacher we must know our students well enough to know what works and that means waiting. Waiting until we have gotten to know our students and their reading interests before we plan activities. Even though many of us teachers are planners and are organizers we can't plan it all in the summer. 

I must admit I love the idea of book commercials in the classroom but in this age of differentiated learning and teaching not all students will respond well to an oral assignment like this. I know that some students will respond better to the traditional book report and therefore should be given that opportunity as well. I do agree with Miller that traditional reading logs are a waste of time and paper. I can't even manage to keep one for myself so how could I expect my students to?

I think the main thing I am going to take away from this chapter is to be open to new ways of doing things and to look at everything from the point of view that my job is to teaching readers not books!

Discussion Questions:
1) Whole class novels? Past experience? Future attempts? Horror stories?
2) How do you plan to plan? Ahead of time, waiting...what will work best for your students?
3) Which of the alternatives that Miller presents appeals the most to you?

0 Brilliant Teaching Thoughts:

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