Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Reading Teacher's Thoughts

I don't often post things about teaching philosophy, and I probably still won't do it too often, but in keeping with yesterday's post...

The Rights of the Reader
By Daniel Pennac

1. The right to not read.
2. The right to skip pages.
3. The right to not finish.
4. The right to reread.
5. The right to read anything.
6. The right to escapism.
7. The right to read anywhere.
8. The right to browse.
9. The right to read out loud.
10. The right not to defend your tastes.
Source: Pennac, 2006.

According to Miller:

Book Review Criteria
• Quotes from the book
• Quotes from famous writers and reviewers
• Cliffhanger questions
• Personal reactions and opinions
• Awards the book and author have won
• Recommended reading age
• Other books by the same author
• Comparisons with other books

The following are my favorite reasons (by Jen Robinson) to read children's books, but I've linked to the entire list!
By Jen Robinson

5. It clues you in on cultural references that you may have missed (both current and classical.)
9. It’s often inspirational – reading about heroes and bravery and loyalty makes you want to be a better person. And couldn’t we all do with some of that?
10. Did I mention that it’s fun?

Source: Jen Robinson’s Book Page, 2005.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Book Review

As you'll see in my last post, I recently read The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child. She promotes having students write book reviews. For my presentation today, I wrote a book review of the book! =)

This little blurb was inside a cute clip art pic of an open book with a little bird in the top left corner, kinda peering into the book, but that doesn't really transfer to the blog...

An reviewer writes of The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, “In less than a week, I became a Book Whisperer, too.”

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child is a title that immediately piqued my interest. Donalyn Miller writes as if she is a real person, even telling the reader right off the bat, “I am not a reading researcher. I am not a reading policy expert. I do not have a PhD. What I am is a reading teacher.” Soon, I found out she is a reading teacher in Texas! Texas! I was thrilled to have a book in my hands written by a teacher that understands the high-stakes of our high-stakes testing. In my mind, she had instant credibility. She addressed her credibility immediately, “My source of credibility is that I am a teacher who inspires my students to read a lot and love reading long after they leave my class.”

Miller’s core belief is that children need to be able to choose what they read. How do you awaken the inner reader? You teach them to read for pleasure! A simple concept, but not one many teachers are putting into practice. Her requirement? Every child will read 40 books during the school year. Forty books! Some of her students don’t think that is possible, but she is vague when they ask what the consequences are for not meeting the goal because failure is not an option. If a child read 1 or 2 books last year and reads 26 books this year, then who cares if they don’t read 40? They increased their reading by 1200%!

Miller refers to every child as a reader and thinks we should change the lingo and better address each child’s needs. Instead of ‘struggling’ readers, they are developing readers. Dormant readers are those that will do what you tell them to do, flying under every teacher’s radar because you know they will pass the test. Underground readers are those who frustrate teachers. They are gifted readers that fail tests because “they see the reading they are asked to do in school as completely disconnected from the reading they prefer to do on their own.”

She outlines traditional practices in the classroom and then gives very do-able alternatives for that practice. Reading Logs? Chunk ‘em! Book Reports? No more! Round Robin Reading? It’s outta here! Buuuut, you’ll have to read her book to find out what the alternatives are!

I recommend this book for every 3rd-8th grade teacher. Not just the language arts teachers, but every teacher that works with children reading chapter books!

Donalyn Miller also writes a blog for Look for The Book Whisperer’s summer challenge of reading a book a day this summer!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Self Reflection Activity

I'm going to ignore, for the moment, the fact that I've been an absentee blogger for the past month and jump right in to this post.

I'm in grad school right now and have a book report due on Tuesday. My professor is phenomenal and chose books he thought applied to where we are as teachers.

My book is called The Book Whisperer Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child and it is inspiring! I recommend it for all teachers of grades 3-7!

I'm about halfway through it and it gave a "Self Reflection Activity"

Without further ado:

What were your reading experiences as a child? My parents read aloud to me as far back as I can remember. Little Women was a mother/daughter favorite! I quickly fell in love with Nancy Drew (I always wanted her to end up with Frank instead of Ned!) all the Babysitters and the Sweet Valley Twins and gradually moved on to anything by Janette Oke or Grace Livingston Hill.

Were these positive or negative experiences for you? Absolutely positive! I would read so much, my parents grounded me from reading if my homework wasn't done! I thought it was funny that my friends were grounded to their room to read!

Do you see yourself as a reader now? I still love to read today, though don't have as much time for it as I would like...

How do you share your reading experiences --both current experiences and those from the past--with your students? Oo, good question! I don't think I do this very well. I'm sure I've told stories at some point about reading as a child to my students...but I don't think I talk about it much with them. After reading this book, I will for sure!

With which group of readers in your classroom do you most identify--the underground readers, the developing readers or the dormant readers? Definitely the underground reader...I would score low marks on novel quizzes and tests because the questions would be over minute details from a chapter I had read 8 weeks ago and the class was just completing it!

Who have been your role models for reading? Hmm, that's a good question. My mom enjoys reading, but read mostly magazines when I was a girl. She reads books more often now and we'll recommend them to each other. I don't know of a specific role model for reading...

List the last five books you have read. The Truth Seeker by Dee Henderson, Pirates by David L. Harrison, Tap Dancing on the Roof by Linda Sue Park, Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury, In Harm's Way by Irene Hannon

How long did it take for you to read these books? Pirates and Tap Dancing on the Roof were read in less than 20 minutes each...They're children's books and I was reading them aloud to my tutoring students. I read In Harm's Way on my first day of summer vacation. Shades of Blue took a little longer, because it was snatches at night before bed. The Truth Seeker was a casual stroll, because I've read it so many times. It's an old friend.

Which books were read for a job or for a school-related purpose? Hmmm, I'll say Pirates and Tap Dancing on the Roof were both read for a school-related purpose. They're ok. They're both on the Name That Book List and I think both are Bluebonnet books this next year, too. They're both poetry books. Pirates has PHENOMENAL illustrations!

Which books were read for pleasure? In Harm's Way, The Truth Seeker, Shades of Blue were all read for pleasure (And I highly recommend them all!)