Home » #cyberPD » #cyberPD: Reading in the Wild–Ch. 1-2

#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.


  1. Adam,
    I’m glad you are back too! I remember the brief couple of online conversations we had about Wonders last year … and here your are now, implementing this program. I know that you will make it work for you in the parameters that your district sets. We have one year under our belt, but my district is clearly stating that Wonders is one tool in our toolbox, including a variety of texts. I think creating balance in your classroom (perhaps a smarter balance) is what you are going for — don’t feel like you have to do it all! That’s the easy way to become overwhelmed and discouraged …

    So, back to wild reading (your clear purpose), I agree that Donalyn shared many simple ideas about cultivating readers. Due to my own struggles with finding larger chunks of time to read at home, I started talking more and more about dividing up time, reading in the edges, reading while you are waiting, etc. I think it was eye opening for students too! I love the “status of the class” idea as well because it continues to build the reading community, students are sharing their reading lives, provides awareness of books and authors, and also accountability for reading. I’m going to think about this more too.

    Love the idea of online reading responses! Perhaps also using Kidblog/Edmodo to write (ah ha! integrating writing) for a larger audience and continue to build your reading community. Hmmm…I hope you tell us more about the reader’s notebook and moving to a personal work space.

    The rule of thirds can work! I think the Daily 5 framework incorporates these components as well. Remember Donalyn’s words: “Whether the standards will improve students’ reading performance remains to be seen, but we cannot overlook one truth: no matter what standards we implement or reading tests we administer, children who read the most will always outperform children who don’t read much” (p.xix). So keep in mind, your students will not make significant gains in one year. It depends on the teaching before and after you and over time to “contend with CCSS.”

    Yeah for ignoring AR and allowing choice! (I have similar issues at my school!) And I vote for the five-thirds plan for literacy! (I was never really good at math … ha!)

    Thanks for joining in the #cyberPD conversation and blogging! I think you already know the benefits of reflecting and then allowing others to share too. (Hope you don’t mind my lengthy response!)


    • Mr. S says:

      Thanks, Michelle. I love lengthy responses.

      Another teacher (the other one at my school most interested in workshop and choice) and I are going to work together as the summer winds down to adapt Wonders to workshop. She has been doing Daily 5 for a while. I’m excited to have someone at school to work with. Hopefully, we can create a strong alternative that other teachers can use, if they so choose.

      I will share more about the Reader’s Notebook on the next post (which might be late–we’re going camping). I really want it to shift from something seen as “work” to a space for collecting and working through ideas. We will see.

      Thanks again for commenting!

  2. Lisa says:

    I like that she pointed out 30 minutes of reading does not need to be continuous. I watched a woman at the park today reading. I was chasing my little kids around, but hers were older and didn’t need as much monitoring. She’d read a bit, look around for them, read more, look around, etc. I think people do think of the 30 minutes like a TV show: start to finish or it doesn’t count. I’m going to emphasize “edge reading” this year with my grade 2s.

    • Mr. S says:

      This was definitely a “duh” moment for me. Of course, I always have thought that 30 minutes meant 30 minutes, total. However, I know I have never told students that it does not have to be all at once. I’ve discussed how any type of reading counts, how important it is, etc., but never this. I think it’s very likely to be a “duh” moment for students, too, when I tell them about it this year.

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. Cathy Mere says:

    So glad you made the time to join the conversation and get back to the blog. :o) I know it is hard to put a good book down. I’m enjoying reading Donalyn’s book. You have asked some hard questions in your post. How do you manage this system with a series? How do you encourage wild readers in an AR library? Perhaps this is a book other teachers in your building can read with you and together you can start to look at these big questions. Do these systems encourage students to read outside of their day? I can tell you are determined to find a way to make it work for your students. It is obvious you are a wild reader yourself. The answers are right there with you.

    Looking forward to continuing this conversation,

    • Mr. S says:

      My school is in a tough spot. We had this golden opportunity to move past series curriculum and toward the vast and flexible benefits of workshop, but we chose not to (despite my voiced objections). But I also understand. Most teachers in my school just want something to follow. They are not confident enough in their knowledge of workshop, or are afraid of the work involved. It is sad and frustrating, but I do my little subversive things to try to change thinking. Another teacher and I are working together this summer to adapt Wonders to workshop, and I inspired her to pick up some kids’ books this summer–to read what her students are reading. So, things can shift. It’s just hard.

      Going to go back to wild reading right now. Thanks for hosting the first reflection!

  4. Hi Adam,
    Like you I have never overtly told the kids that their reading does not have to be all in one chunk, so that will be a lesson I specifically teach in the new year. Kudos to you for working on plans to integrate what you know you have to do with what you know you want to (should) do. Hopefully the research basis in this book will support you along the way. Here’s hoping the coming year is a bit easier for you.

    • Mr. S says:

      It is impossible for the coming year to not be easier for me.

      Teaching what our hearts know is hard when the materials we are provided are cold and unfeeling. But we can do it.

  5. Laura Komos says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post! I recently moved up to fourth grade from first grade, and my district has just adopted the Reading Street basal series for K-5. (That is a topic for a loooooong conversation!) Being new to 4th grade, the series really helped me learn what it was that I was supposed to be teaching. As I became more comfortable, I used the basal lessons as mini-lessons and springboards to what I wanted my kids to learn. I used Daily Five in my classroom, so kids had an opportunity to practice those skills and strategies… along with LOTS of time for self-selected reading time! I would love to chat more this year about how things are working for you. Maybe we could brainstorm together to make it flow a little more seamlessly in our classrooms!

    • Mr. S says:

      I hope to do some reflections over the year about how the basal–>workshop adaptation is working. I’d love to chat about it! In the past (with Open Court), I have worked things similar to what you do–use the skills and lessons from the curriculum to “schedule” my mini-lessons. Then I have them apply that to their own reading, rather than the curriculum selection. This is where it helps to have read a lot of books! I expect that I will do something similar with Wonders. We shall see.

      Thanks for commenting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: