Saturday, January 11, 2014

Helping Students Become Lifelong Readers

20 Day Blogging Challenge, Day 8:  Tell about a professional book that has had an impact on you.

Thanks to a Christmas gift from one of my students, I was able to pick up Donalyn Miller's new book, Reading in the Wild.  I am just fifty pages into it, but already I am finding inspiration.  I wrote in an earlier post about her first book, The Book Whisperer.  I have been trying to provide my students with lots of real reading time, but in dealing with school district mandates, I frequently lose focus and stray from what I know kids really need.

I know that I can teach all common core standards using quality literature, but I'm required to use Houghton Mifflin, Journeys, and I am expected to teach the small readers that go with each story in the anthology.  These readers are not quality literature, and they are BORING!  So I keep trying to balance meeting district requirements, and having my students read real books.  Most of the time, I feel like I'm not doing either very well.

Donalyn reminds us that
Research indicates that time spent reading correlates positively with students' performance on standardized reading tests (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998)
When I was a kid, I read all the time.  The literature I read has been an important foundation for the person I have become.  As an adult, I rarely read just for fun.  I want to renew that love of reading, and I want to develop it in my students.  Already I'm feeling inspired to recommit to the reading workshop model, and make sure my kids are reading engaging literature that they want to read.  Donalyn articulates many of the things I am feeling.
"Our zealous national focus on standardized test performance, often at the expense of meaningful reading instruction and support, has caused us to lose sight of our true obligations regarding children's literacy:  fostering their capacity to lead literate lives."
. . . . . "Clearly, developing life-long reading habits matters not only to the individual but to society in general.  We all benefit when more people read."
Even though I am only fifty pages into this book, I've already found a few ideas that I plan to implement right away.  We have written reading response letters in our reading notebooks, but I love the idea of posting these entries to Edmodo.  My kids already have Edmodo accounts.  We have used them to discuss books, as well as do research.  They are enthusiastic about using Edmodo, so I know they would be eager to post their reading response there.   It's easier for me to access than 29 reading notebooks, and they have a much wider audience.

She also has a form that I'm going to use.  Instead of a reading log, she starts each class with a Status of the Class roll call.  This idea comes from Nancie Atwell's, The Reading Zone.  Students record the title of the book they are reading, the page number they are on, and a one-sentence summary of what is happening in the book.  I really like this idea.

I will write more about Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild as I get farther into it.  January is a month that we do lots of testing.  This book is just the shot in the arm that I need.

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