Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Book Whisperer Ch. 6

The Book Whisperer
Chapter 6
Cutting the Teacher Strings

Link up with Thinking of Teaching, The Polka Dot Patch, and Mrs. Wills Kindergarten to see what other people are saying!

"If reading a book together as a class doesn't improve students' reading ability or enjoyment of reading, what is the purpose of this practice? (pg. 123)
          I am so glad I read this chapter. I have confessed before that I was planning on making novel activities for my students this summer. Wow. Donalyn Miller has given me a new and better perspective. I was only doing this because I saw other teachers doing it. I remember doing them in school and I thought there was some merit in them. I am not so sure now. I want to share the wonder and happiness that comes with reading, not the tedious work that usually accompanies even the best books in school. I almost fell into that trap.

"Every concept and skill I teach, even when it involves grammar, connects back to students' independent work at some point, and I feel that this independent work must be self-selected reading and writing events, not the shorter goal of a worksheet or test practice." (pg. 131)
         This is something I need to post somewhere by my desk in my classroom. I need to keep this in mind whenever I am planning instruction and learning. I fell like this book is helping me grow as a teacher. It is amazing! A lot of this is making me think, "Duh Becca. You knew this. Why aren't you doing it?"

"Reading for the goal of performing is not motivating for students beyond their desire to ear a good grade on the test and may actually reduce their reading enjoyment and enthusiasm for reading outside of school." (pg. 131)
          Whew, this one hits close to home. I am guilty of using grades and assessments as the goal for student reading. That stops now. Our goal is going to be finding books that we love and sharing them with others. Learning all the skills will be so much easier if we can do that.

"Instead of narrowing my instructional focus to test prep, I prefer to teach reading standardized tests as its own genre. Here's how you read a map; her's how you read a newspaper article; and here's you you read a test." (pg. 134)
         I really like this idea. We have a big reading assessment that we work towards in January and then again in May. I can say that I hate those 2 tests. Nothing else really bothers me, but I HATE those. I really feel like they are inappropriate for the age group, but that is another story. I am going to focus on enriching our reading experiences instead of crazy test prep (in 2nd grade, I know!).

Book Commercials and Book Reviews (pg. 137-139)
          I can't wait to do these. We could even video the book commercials and post them on our class website or blog. I think these are awesome and authentic ways of learning about my students as readers.

Alternatives for reading aloud: Prepare and Practice, read in pairs, or use audiotapes. (pg. 148-149)
          We have a big push for fluency in 2nd grade. I am going to be doing all sorts of activities to focus on fluency, so I fell comfortable eliminating superficial reading aloud. It something needs to be read aloud, I will read it or I will use one of those other techniques. I was already shying away from that, but now I have more reason.

Donalyn Miller's next quote really sums up this chapter and should be the goal of every teacher.

"I want my students to learn what life readers know: reading is its own reward. Reading is a university course in life; it makes us smarter by increasing our vocabulary and background knowledge of countless topics. Reading allows us to travel to destinations that we will never experience outside of the pages of a book. Reading is a way to find friends who have the same problems we do and who can give advice on solving those problems. Through reading, we can witness all that is noble, beautiful, or horrifying about other human beings." (pg. 151)

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