Wednesday, July 16, 2014

#cyberPD: Reading in the Wild (Part 2)

Thank you Laura Komos at Ruminate and Invigorate for hosting this week's #cyberPD.

Last week and this week while rereading Reading in the Wild, I have found myself reflecting on my own wild reading and how I try to encourage wild reading in my classroom.  I am a wild reader and so glad that I am.  According to Donalyn (as cited in Morrison, Jacobs and Swinyard 1999; McKool and Gespass, 2009) "teachers who read for pleasure are more likely to employ best literacy practices in their classrooms than teachers who do not read for pleasure" (p. 106).

One area that I connected with in Reading in the Wild was creating a reading a door.  I heard Donalyn talk about them several years ago at a teaching conference.  Reading doors are a school wide endeavor at Donalyn's school.  The purpose is so "students would see every teacher, not just the reading teacher, as a reader.  Our doors highlighted our school wide focus on reading and kicked off a year of sharing and discussing texts in every class" (p. 118).  

Below are pictures of my own classroom reading door.  The best part of decorating my classroom door with books I read over the summer is when the kids are lining up, they ask me about specific books.  The door provides me with the opportunity to summarize and give a small book talk while waiting to go to recess or at the end of the day.

As I was thinking through my post this afternoon, I thought of the bags of books in the back of my car ready to go back to the library and the books that are ready to be picked up.  I was also reminded of how wild readers plan ahead (p. 137 and 138). 

According to Donalyn wild readers:
  • Keep to-read stacks of books - My husband isn't very fond of my stacks at home.  I also have stacks of picture books at school.  Kids love browsing them and recommending the best that I should read aloud.
  • Keep a to-read list - I have lists of books to read for pleasure, professional and for the classroom.
  • Reserve books at the library - You can only reserve so many books online at one time.  I often reach my maximum in one sitting. 
  • Preorder new releases, books in a series, or books from favorite authors - I often reserve the books at the library, but have a list of books and their release date ready.  
  • Make use of book award lists - We do this as a family when we travel.  We listen to at least one Newbery Award book on CD (depending on the length of the trip)
While I personally do lots of planning and often model my planning for students.  I struggle with having second grades plan.  Last year I tried doing this before our Christmas break.  It didn't go over as I had anticipated.  I think I need to spend more time talking about how growing readers make plans for reading throughout the year.  For example, having them make daily and weekly plans about their reading.  This would probably build up to planning over longer breaks and lay the foundation for future planning.

One thing that I struggle with in second grade is helping children learn to read while fostering wild readers.  I will continue to think and ponder on this as I finish rereading Donlyn's inspirational book.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

#cyberPD: Reading in the Wild (Part 1 of 3)

First of all, thank you to Cathy Mere at Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community for organizing and hosting this week's #cyberPD!

As I began rereading the first two chapters of Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild, I found myself reflecting on my own reading journey and how that has evolved over the course of my life.  As a young child I remember my mom taking my siblings and I to the library weekly so we could pick out our five books.  What a challenge it was to select just five each week.  I loved the feel of the books in my hands and sitting in my mom's lap listening to her read to me was a special time.  My next memory is first grade.  I don't remember ever being read to, but do remember the blue plaid phonics workbook.  As I progressed through elementary school, I remember reading stories in basal readers, but don't remember one story I read or connected to.  Often times I wouldn't read the selections and would read the questions in the accompany workbook, find the answers and move on.  I also don't ever remember a teacher sharing their love of a book or reading.  I was never taught in school that reading could be enjoyable, connecting and engaging.  The message I received is that reading was a means to an end.  I was a product of a school as Donalyn describes, "the practices of many school reading programs diminish and disregard the development of personal reading habits" (p. 3).  Fortunately as an adult,  I found a love for books and started living a "reading life".  I can't imagine my life without books now!

As I write this, I'm inflight on my way home from a workshop.  I'm reminded of something someone said at the workshop about parents expecting education and today's classroom to look like it did when they were in school.  I think parents  also expect reading to look the same.  As a teacher I hope to engage students unlike I was in school as a reader.  I often WONDER if we all cultivated an environment that values and embraces the development of reading habits, what kind of students and learners we could have?  I think Donalyn's statement sums it up best, "I want my students to see reading as something they do-- not something remarkable or rare.  I want them to read because they enjoy it and feel comfortable in their reading personalities" (p. 3).

Donalyn spends time describing and talking about how you know you are a reader living a "reading life", and so I'll leave you with a short story that I was reminded of when reflecting on how I know I live a "reading life." One day my daughter and I were in the car, at a red light and I pulled out my book.  She said to me, "I bet lots of kids have to tell their parents not to text and drive, but not me!  I have to tell my mom not to read and drive!"