Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Book Whisperer: You HAVE to read this book!

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is, by far, the BEST professional book I've read in a long time. Here are some highlights that Crystal and I decided were "we HAVE to implement this ASAP!"-or next year-whichever comes first!!

-Organize your books by GENRES-not by LEVELS: This was a huge wake up call to me because I have always organized my classroom library by authors, then levels, award winning books, science, etc. But if we want our students to think about GENRES, we have to organize our books in that way as well. I absolutely HATE AR testing. Students get so wrapped up in whether they should read a book based off of how many points they can get, rather than if they are truly interested in the book! What are we doing to our kiddos???
So, NO MORE LEVELS for my classroom library!! My students will check out books because they are interested in reading the book, NOT because they can earn 2 AR points for it!

-Children should be reading at LEAST 20-30 minutes a day without interruptions!

-Students should be allowed to choose THEIR OWN books! How would you like it if someone was always telling you what to read? We teach them how to self-select. A life-long skill.

-It's OKAY for students to abandon a book! That's REAL LIFE! If they aren't interested, they won't read it! It's my job to help them find books they will fall in love with!

-Students should not be worried about what they CAN'T do, but thinking about what they CAN do! We set a goal of however many books we want our students to read. If they reach that goal, GREAT! If they try as hard as they can, but fall short...that's GREAT, too!

-Children should be able to find a comfy place to read. They shouldn't be confined to their desk. That's not what REAL LIFE readers do. When we're at home reading, we're usually laying in the bed or curled up on the couch. Shouldn't we allow our students to be as comfortable during classtime reading?

-We DON'T focus on state assessments *gasp*! If we are allowing our students to read, read, read...they will be successful.


-intervention should NOT be happening during classtime. "Students who are pulled for intervention from the general ed. classroom are reading 75% LESS than other students"(Miller, 2009) -How is that helpful?

I hope you've like my highlights! If you'd like to read more, PLEASE buy the book! We can change lives, one student at a time! The Book Whisper by Donalyn Miller


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Well, NOW I have to RETHINK things!!! I hate it when that happens! I think I've got things planned out for the next year. I have the BEST idea EVER. Then...I read an incredible book and my whole thought process changes. In this case, it's the author Aimee Buckner of Notebook Know How and Reading Notebooks. Crystal and I had it all planned out...a new Writer's Workshop notebook (the pictures were posted in the previous post), a new Reader's Notebook, Poetry ALL sounded and looked good! Until now...

I've read these books, and also started The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, and my entire way of thinking about writing and reading reflection has changed! Okay...well, part of it changed, and part of it was renewed. What I mean is that at one time I was thinking the say way Aimee Buckner thought, but the state testing expectations lured me into their trap and influence me to (I hate to say this...) "teach to the test".  Has that ever happened to you? It makes me sick to think about it!

Crystal and I are switching books, studying books together and rethinking how we want to instill a passion for writing and reading in our classrooms for next year.

I'm not saying we're going to ditch the new Writer's Notebook, but we may need to reevaluate it. I'm thinking, (and I haven't passed this feeling on to Crystal yet), that it's too rigid. It's too "by the book" and not what REAL writer's and reader's would do.

We'll have to brainstorm, rethink, throw ideas around until we figure what we believe will the best way to instill a love for reading and writing for our students will be.

Am I worried about this.....No! Because I know that THIS is what makes GREAT teaching! We research, we rethink, we reevaluate, we remain flexible....and we know that, THAT is what is going to make us influential teachers!