Thursday, July 7, 2011

They are home....whispers of books

"Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home." ~ Quindlen

Doesn't that just say it all? I love that Donalyn Miller talks about how reading is the cornerstone for everything in Chapter 3. I have often found myself saying the very same thing to my students. In Science we read about science, in Social Studies we read about social studies, in Math we read about math...we read, read, read ALL. THE. TIME. I think it's impossible to go the entire day without reading. It would be like going an entire day without seeing an advertisement (which we have to read most of the time!). Impossible.

Time for Reading Is Time Well Spent
I agree that it's important to build up the amount of time your students spend reading in class, or as the "sisters" describe it in The Daily 5 - stamina. Especially coming off the summer break many students may not have read very much, or at all, during the break and really need to build up to it. I often use the following analogy when talking about challenging ourselves to read books that are just a little more difficult- "You can't just go out the door and decide to run a marathon today. You have to slowly build up to it by going a little farther each day." I have always tried to challenge my students to improve their reading by stretching themselves in term of the reading level of the books they read, but it also work when you think about the time they spend reading. If we slowly build our reading stamina then we will continue to get better and better without burning out by going for too long too fast.

I think the best part of reading this book for me so far has been the validation I have felt for my reading program. About 4 years ago I switched to a mainly choice based reading program and it's very encouraging to read about someone else doing a similar thing and it working. I am learning so many new ways to tweak my program and make it even stronger in the coming school year.

I am also VERY excited about the idea Donalyn presents for "stealing reading moments". The greatest frustration I faced this past year was dealing with students who finished their work in class and then having to redirect their focus. Previously I had only taught Grade 7 and 8 and my students never finished their work in class (whether I gave too much, they talked too much, or by then they had figured out not to tell the teacher they were done...who knows!). In Grade 4, students finish early a lot. I made a poster that gave them a list of options for work or activities to be done but students rarely worked on stuff and usually just asked me what they could do anyway. Frustration to the max!!!!!  I was also frustrated with my student;s lack of focus in the morning when I had prepared "bell work" for them and was continually reminding them to get started. I want to send a huge thanks to Donalyn for this chapter. From now on my class will read when they arrive in the morning, read when there is a class interruption, read when they are done their, read, read!!

Another goal for this coming school year is to create a place for reading. I know Donalyn discusses how you don't really need a special reading corner with comfy chairs, lamps, etc but I really like the idea of creating this space to value reading in my classroom. In previous year I taught Grade 7 and 8 and those students have big bodies which means there is very little space left for a reading corner. I also taught on rotary so students were constantly in and out of the room. Now that I teach Grade 4 I want to make a reading area for my room.

It's almost impossible not to get drawn into Donalyn's passion about reading and book as I make my way through The Book Whisperer. In the words of my favourite fictional character I feel as though I have found a "kindred spirit". This book makes me excited for the start of the school year and to get cracking at my reading program!

This chapter's linky party is being hosted by Heidi over at Swamp Frog First Graders. Please head over there to link up your post and share your ideas.

6 Brilliant Teaching Thoughts:

Mrs. Shepherd said...

Loved reading your post! You have some really great insight to reading. I am also a 4th grade Reading teacher and am in the process of planning to implement Reader's Workshop in my room full swing in August. Check out my blog from my post today on what I have planned so far. I would love to hear what you think! Do you allow your kids to read authentic literature in the room during independent reading time or only leveled readers. I was thinking about using both.

Beth said...

Mrs. Shepherd,
I allow my students to read authentic literature - basically whatever they want! I am not sure where you are from but I teach in Ontario and we don't use a lot of leveled readers past the primary grade (1-3)...I believe. I don't have any primary experience so maybe they don't use them either! I read an article once that said children who have a taste for reading, regardless of if they read "trash" will continue to be readers and may grow into better books. Children who have no taste for reading and never read will never grow as readers. I figure if it's words on a page it's good enough for me!

Sarah said...

I completely agree with having my students read read read- during interruptions, if they get done early, etc. I never really thought about the interruption thing until she mentioned it, but why not have them automatically get a book? I just need to find a good way to have them keep books with them, without having them feel the need to get up and go to the shelves at every moment there is an interruption.

Fantastic 1st Grade

Beverley Baird said...

The past three years I have had big blocks of just reading time. The students' only task then was to read and record their reading. By theend of the year most could read for 30-40 min at a time. Each year I ask the children whether they liked this big block and they all have said YES!
I want children to love reading and how can they if they don't read and read alot?
I am still waiting for my copy but really enjoying your summaries of the chapters so far.

Jennifer Gibson said...

Great ideas! It is funny that I say that, because my post about this chapter sounds a lot like yours!


hsamuelson said...

Now I'm going to have to rethink my "I'm Done" chart...maybe it should just a book!
Thanks for linking up!
Swamp Frog First Graders

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