Reading In The Wild by Donalyn Miller this week added more ways to encourage reading, especially in communities. Michelle Nero at Literacy Learning Zone(@litlearningzone), Laura Komos at Ruminate and Invigorate (@LauraKomos) and Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine: Building A Learning Community(@CathyMere) are hosting #CyberPd this summer, where we read a certain professional book, this time Donalyn's, and share our response to it.
This time, Laura is hosting, so link up your posts there, read and take notes for the school year's beginning!
It was a pleasure to read everyone's thinking last week, and I look forward to this share, too! Tweet at #CyberPD
Words I live by, and love seeing them communicated so passionately in this book:
"What my students need to learn is important, but the conditions that allow learning to happen concern me more." (p. 89)
"What's your bottom line?...How does what you do every day serve that bottom line?"
I am reminded of a quote I've kept on a sticky note at my desk: "If you can't say to the kids what it is you are trying to teach them, what makes you think they are going to be able to learn it?" Donalyn's words make things so clear about her own "bottom line", with a strong, strong voice, that as I read I wanted to begin making lists, writing down ALL the parts. Then I realized that I have the book to refer too, and now is the time for me to form my own series of questions and to gather information for my colleagues so they can firm up (discover, create) their own bottom lines. Thus, I enjoyed when Donalyn spoke so honestly about the struggle with conferences, and the self-knowledge that no matter how many individual notebooks she created at the beginning of the year, she knew that they would be ignored by the end of October. She found her way. Sounds silly, but with research supporting, knowing what clear goals are, I immediately thought of the old Sinatra song, "My Way." Certainly, I don't mean any way, but a path thought out that's good for each student, and for the community.
The ideas offered about building school and home reading communities are both creative, practical, and will be motivating. In that light, I know that I already have some parents who are Goodreads friends. What a wonderful thing it might be to build a community Goodreads group that recommends books enjoyed with their children, and books enjoyed by the children in class! My librarians and I have already met and have plans to begin some new projects for students in the fall. We started a Newbery book club last year, and will do so again, have given a short list of book titles to those who participated last year for their summer reading. They will help share their "good reads" with us to begin the year. One idea we've also planned is to offer "browsing sessions", to help students learn all the different kinds of books available to them. I realize that from Donalyn's beliefs, students need direct instruction in 'browsing'. Their habits seem changed from years ago because they are so used to online searching for the "one right answer", thus are frustrated in looking for the "one right book". Knowledge of their favorite library sections/authors/genres will help them discover more choices.
Having a reading community seems so exciting, to know classmates who can offer good suggestions for books, to find one's own preferences through the year, and then be able to expand those preferences independently is a terrific thing. It makes me excited to begin the journey of planning for different ways to help students make that happen. The "how" of sharing in this chapter is a helpful start, AND that "graffiti wall" is an amazing, in-the-classroom way to keep ideas flowing all during the year. There was so much to keep close in Chapter Three.
"I was born with a reading list I'll never finish." Maud Casey, shared by Donalyn on p. 136. I know that most wild readers do always have a plan, a book list or stack, often too many to get to. I have my books for all ages, my adult books, my professional books, my favorites that I re-read, and on. To share how I do it would be helpful for some, especially older, already 'wild readers'. Yet, again that specific mantra, direct teaching lessons, will help students who need a plan, and the list of ideas shared in this chapter are good. I know some of the teachers I work with do this, help students form their plans, make lists of what's next, consistently share about new books coming in and help their students give book talks. It seems that additional conversation to share ideas will be helpful to teachers so they can choose what works in their own classrooms. And offering students different kinds of plans, including the challenges, will open new reading worlds for them. The ideas of making plans for vacations is something I'd never thought of. I know some of my readers who always read, but I didn't help those who were more reluctant see that there was a possibility for them to have a vacation plan, too.
The underlying message in Chapters three and four continued to be to build students' independence in reading, through directly supporting their habits, showing them new ones, and teaching them about the habits of wild readers they may not know. Donalyn left us with some inspiring words from her own life, about her husband's and her own personal canons. I wonder if this too would emerge as a conversation with older students? We could share books that meant something to us as young readers, as chapter book readers, as readers who've shared with special people. Ideas of creating a community through sharing our lives, including our reading lives, fills me, like every teacher, with excitement for the new year. Just not for a few more weeks, please!
Because we're talking about wild reading, I have a couple of terrific books to share for Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Wednesday. Find other's reviews at Kid Lit Frenzy. Thanks Alyson, back to regular Wednesdays after this wonderful #CyberPD.
Mama Built A Little Nest – written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Steve Jenkins
There isn’t a book illustrated by Steve Jenkins that I don’t love, and this wonderful story, written in poetry by Jennifer Ward, is simply delightful. Each double page shares a four line quatrain, with an additional paragraph explaining about the bird’s nest. It’s an entertaining way to offer real information. For the verse for the hummingbird: “Mama built a little nest,/a cup so wee and snug,/with walls of moss and roof of sky/and silky, cobweb rug.” Each follows a similar pattern, rhyming, including information.
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind – written by William Kamkwamba and BryanMealer, with pictures by Elizabeth Zunon
I wish I had read this original story, the longer one, but the collage illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon add to the tale, too, of a starving boy in Malawi who used the resources available to change his world, now changing more than that! If you haven’t read about William Kamkwamba and his search for answers in a small library while his family and community starved for lack of water and failing crops, you should. It is a story of grit and determination to solve the problem, and with meager resources found in the trash heap, a windmill was made! Zunon’s collages are beautiful to see and the story is an inspiration to share.