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!

12 Brilliant Teaching Thoughts:

Kristen said...

Hi Donalyn! Even if you don't have a chance to answer this question, I want to say thanks for this opportunity (and thanks Beth!!).

My question is regarding English Language Learners. I teach newcomer ELL students in 4th and 5th grade. My class uses interactive stories online, listens to books on iPods, and I read tons of books aloud (so they can comprehend and enjoy more age-appropriate books). It's the independent reading I worry about at times. Many are just learning to read in English, so it can sometimes be challenging to find high-interest books at their reading levels. Do you have any advice regarding students just learning to read in English? Thank you!

Katie said...

Hi Donalyn,
I have not completed all of your amazing book yet so forgive me if you address this question in later chapters. My system using a basal program that places students in ability level groups. It is a very skill based program but it does expose kids to many genres and types of texts each week. How would you suggest I encourage a love of reading with such a program? I read aloud of my kids all the time and talk about books I am reading but I worry that this program will squish any desire to read! Thanks for your time and your brillant book!

Sarah said...

Hello! I am enjoying reading along with everyone! It is always great to hear "new ideas". I answered your discussion questions on a blog post! I can't wait to read the rest! I am actually reading 2 things at once- a book for "fun" and then this book, which I think is fun too! :)

Fantatsic First Grade

KatieViolet said...

I teach 4th grade and read the Book Whisperer last summer (however, I'm enjoying rereading it for the purposes of the discussion!) I have to say I too was shocked at the number 40 for the requirement of books but I was surprised at how many of my students rose to the occasion and far beyond! Although I did have some that did not make it to 40 books, just as Donalyn wrote, it set the bar high. Students that were not readers to begin with became readers because the expectation was there that they WOULD read. They read way more books than they would have had I not set the goal at 40.

Beth said...

Thank you so much for your comment! That makes me feel so much better about setting such a high goal for my students, especially since I also teach Grade 4.

Angelia said...

I'm so sorry for not hosting Chapter 2 yet on my blog. My sister just had her first baby, and I went home to meet him. I promise I will have the chapter up in the next day or 2. I hate that I haven't gotten to it yet. Sorry!


Katie said...

Hey- I am having trouble viewing the read along schedule. Is there any way you could repost it or email it to me ( Thanks!!

Unknown said...

My question for Donalyn is:
I love the idea of a reader's notebook, how would I incorporate this for my first graders? I have a few ideas, but would love your take on this.

Faithful in First

Tamara L. Chilver said...

Hi Donalyn! I have two questions that have me completely stumped. A dear friend's son is not interested in reading at all. She has modeled reading with him. She bought him books that he would be interested in. She went to visit a librarian for suggestions. Nothing has worked for several years. He still dislikes it. Any other suggestions for him? (I apologize if the answer is in your book. I am currently on chapter three with this book study.)

Question #2- I know a child who reads aloud VERY slowly and sounds each letter out. He is in fifth grade. Yet, he scores very high on comprehension. Should his slow reading be a concern. Will he gradually speed up as he reads more and more?(Sometimes this is a problem when he has to take timed tests.)

Thank you!

Jill said...

My question for Donalyn is:

I teach a first/second grade multiage class. In your book, you talk a lot about making time for independent reading and also students taking advantage of down time to read. This makes complete sense in sixth grade, since I'm sure many of them are reading novels, but how could I adapt this for first and second graders? I just imagine a thirty-minute independent reading time with students getting up and switching out books constantly. The only thing I can think of is to have them start with a huge pile of books on their desks... Do you have any other ideas of how I can incorporate many of your ideas into primary grades? Thanks!

Magnificent Multiagers!

Janaye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Runde's Room said...

I read this book last summer, so I was excited to incorporate many of the ideas into my class this year. I teach grade 6/7 and some of the novels they choose can be quite lengthy, so I gave them a "30 Book Challenge". I gave them at least 20 - 30 minutes a day to read, and yet more than half of my students didn't reach the goal. I was almost disappointed until I found out that my students had read more than they had in any other year, and by the end of the year, all but 2 students considered themselves "avid readers". Can't wait until next year to try it again ...

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