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Monthly Archives: July 2014

#cyberPD: Reading in the Wild–Ch. 3-4

I’m sneaking this out Sunday night, before I head out for camping and backpacking this week, and scheduling it for a Wednesday post. It will tweet, and when I get back, I will comment/post a link on Ruminate and Invigorate, host of this week’s discussion (Thanks, Laura!). If you happen to find it before then, good on you!

After reading through a handful of posts last week, I found myself thinking more about mini-lesson topics as I read this week’s chapters. It’s interesting to see how others’ responses to a shared reading experience can influence future thinking. Oh, wait–reader influence is part of Chapter 3! Whoa. Meta.

In Ch. 3, I was indeed particularly struck by the section on reader influence. I plan to add a mini-lesson on this to my queue. I also took careful note of “What schools should do if they want kids reading more” on p. 95-96. I feel that the reading culture at my school is too locked down and restrictive (not in my class, but overall). The more fodder for pushing a shift, the better.

And the conferring section. Ack! My life! Last year was particularly difficult, since my students were terrible independent workers/readers–independent reading time was just one big management battle. Things will be better this year, but I still anticipate a struggle to confer with every student in a reasonably acceptable time frame. I took to heart Donalyn’s thoughts about my purpose and goals for conferring. I’m hoping to focus things a bit to increase the value of that one-on-one time.

really liked the section in Ch. 4 about challenge and commitment goals. I am pretty bad at revisiting goals, so this type of thing has always sort of sputtered in my classroom. However, I started thinking about using goals and plans as a way of almost turning over the “assigning” of reading to the students. They can assign themselves their reading. I can check in via conferences and reading responses. It’s an intriguing idea, and one I want to explore further.

Here’s a little bit of my personal canon to finish things off:

  • Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt
  • Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling
  • Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse
  • Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
  • Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst
  • Strega Nona, by Tomie DePaola
  • Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina
  • The River Why, by David James Duncan

Talk to you next week!

#cyberPD: Reading in the Wild–Ch. 1-2

I’ve been gone from the blog for a long, long time. Sorry. It was an excruciating year (see my “View from Saturday” reflections), and I just couldn’t do it. Plus, I always have this blogging-when-I-could-be-reading thing going.

I was excited to see Reading in the Wild as the #cyberPD selection for the summer. I had planned to read it anyway, so I’m glad to have a little community to read it with.

Most of these reflections, I think, will be in the context of adapting and adjusting our new reading curriculum, Wonders, into a workable workshop model, and how to shift the purpose from “pass the Smarter Balanced test” (the clear purpose of the curriculum) to “creating lifelong, wild readers” (my clear purpose). I haven’t started really digging into Wonders yet, so maybe the later reflections will refer to that more.

This first reflection is hosted by Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine. Head over there and take a look at all the other initial reflections.

Chapter One, about dedicating time to read, gave me a whole slew of ideas that I’ll be incorporating this year. Some were as small as a tip I’ll give students: “When I ask you to read 30 minutes a night, it doesn’t have to be 30 minutes straight. It can be 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there, like that.” It’s a simple thing, and has always been true, but I’ve never explicitly explained that to students before.

I’m also looking forward to adding the “Status of the Class” feature to our reading days.

And always, some of the ideas get me revising and refining my practice. I’ve done Reading Response letters for several years, but it is often a drag to get everyone to do them, and a drag to hand write my responses. This year, I’ll have seven Chromebooks that I got on DonorsChoose, and I’m hoping to make these responses all electronic. Hopefully more students will do them without my prodding, and I can write a much faster response. Connected to this, I’m looking forward to shifting the Readers Notebook to a personal work space, and not lugging them home each week.

The rule of thirds idea is the one that’s giving me the most pause. I’m really nervous about how I’ll be able to adapt Wonders to work in this type of schedule. I also worry a lot about getting enough writing in. I feel the pressure of CCSS and Smarter Balanced, and I know my students are not nearly the writers they need to be. How do I fit this all together? Last year, I tried to do a full reading workshop and a full writing workshop every day. I had a tough group of students, but it would have been a challenge regardless. Shifting to more reading or writing focused units could be a stress reliever and a time saver, but I worry that my students won’t make the significant growth that they need to, in order to contend with CCSS.

Chapter Two, about self-selecting texts, will always be important in my classroom. My school uses AR, and the librarians make requirements about check outs and reading at ZPD levels. However, I pretty much ignore this and let students read what they want and check out what they want. I do look at AR levels and the levels of books students are reading, but I make no requirements about it.

The main piece that I took away from Ch. 2 was that I want to insert more variety of shorter and longer texts into my read aloud. I usually read one nonfiction read aloud each year. I’d like to increase that (as well as the total number of read alouds–time and my talkative students severely impacted our read aloud time). I plan to try to feature Wonderopolis and other short texts on a more regular basis. But, of course, time. How does this fit into the rule of thirds? Can I get five-thirds for literacy this year?

I’m glad you’re with me.