Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Forming Reading Communities! #CyberPD & NFPB Wednesday

 

            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


CHAPTER THREE:
         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.

CHAPTER FOUR:
        "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!
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              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 Bryan
Mealer, 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.

33 comments:

  1. I love your reflections. Everytime I read someone else's thoughts I think "oh yeah, I forgot about that!" What stood out to me this week and last week is the need for explicit teaching on becoming an independent reader. That probably seems so easy to many people but coming from a school that teaches the 5 finger rule as being the majority of ind reading instruction, there's a lot to do. We have become proficient at guiding readers through books and have missed strategic reading and application if skills into independent reading. To get this to change will require a lot of work since our teachers are not on board. Always work in front of us!
    You mentioned a newbery club. Do you have a post detailing what it is/how you got it going? I'm interested in trying one.

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    1. I never wrote a complete post about our Newbery club, Michele, just a few mentions now & then. We met at Friday lunch, opened it up to those students who were interested and had about 12 regulars. I shared the criteria set up by the committee, & each child read & shared a book each week, first reading a book that had already won. The librarians & I began to identify & purchase the books that were being discussed, & we really just let the kids discuss within the criteria, & bring quotes they thought would be enticing to share. It was very casual, but exciting. These same students want to start earlier this next year, so we will, & will let them advertise for more readers! Thanks for asking. I agree about the explicit teaching & that I also need to find a way to convince those colleagues I work with how important it is!

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  2. I am loving the combined #cyberPD and #nfpb2014. Thanks for linking up and also sharing your thoughts on Donalyn's book

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    1. I've missed the sharing with all of you, Alyson, so happy to combine it today. I always love reading about all the wonderful NF books! Thank you!

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  3. We were moved by so many of the same topics and concerns, Linda. Reading Donalyn's book helped me to understand that so many of my own wild reading habits, the habits that have stood me in good stead over man, many decades, need to be nurtured and explicitly taught. Our kids, with all the distractions at hand, need that kind of explicit modeling and guidance so that they can browse, create reading plans, and begin thinking about personal canons. It's not (necessarily) some innate "thing" that they just come to us knowing how to do. Such a thought provoking book!

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    1. Yes, I noticed that when I read your post, I was nodding, 'yes', & 'yes' again, Tara. It will be good to touch base during the year to see if we're making headway in our quest to follow some of these terrific ideas. I think I have our librarians to talk with, to devise plans to entice others-feel good about that! I'm excited to think about all the different ways that reading can become a joy for all our students! Thank you!

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  4. I know what you mean about the quotes! So much of what she writes is what we want to instill and what we believe. We are her people! I love what you wrote here:

    " 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."

    Perfect! That sums up so much. It gets hard in the day to day tussle to keep a clear vision of what the end point is. Those conferring notes maybe a t-chart....Habits do we need to support on one side and new habits we add to get them to become wild readers.

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    1. Thanks Julieanne. What a super idea to create a t-chart. It's certainly going on my list of things that will work, at least in the way I think.

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  5. I feel that this book, more than any other I've read, has given me permission to follow the lead of my students, to treat them like my community rather than my minions, and to truly balance my instruction so I am aiming for one overall goal: creating readers. Not test takers. Not "better students". Readers. Thanks for your thoughts!

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    1. At my school, we do that, work with the students from their own platform & help them learn how to be independent learners in everything. Amazingly, as you see me say, I have still learning about things I've always taken for granted about my readers, & now am so excited to share these ideas with those I work with. Thanks.

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  6. What a rich post - from Donalyn to Steve Jenkins. :-) I love reading all your thoughts about the upcoming year!

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    1. Thank you Holly. Won't it be great to give them all a try! And it will be such fun to share what's going on.

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  7. These are two books that I really enjoy. I agree that Jenkins just does a fantastic job with illustration. The facts are interesting too. The wind story is truly inspirational and reminds us that one person can make a huge difference if they step out.

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    1. Because of NFPB Wed. I've been reading more & more NF, Crystal, but these particular two books have really stood out for me. I'm happy you enjoyed them too. I do want to read the longer original text from William Kamkwamba, too. What a marvelous story. Thank you!

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  8. Enjoyed your thinking here, Linda. I realized this year that my students need much more direction when it comes to discovering who they are as readers. Such basic things as types of genres they prefer, personal likes and dislikes, favorite authors and series...I take that for granted as too obvious to teach, but I was doing students a disservice by not teaching it. Luckily, my students remind me by asking for some of these lessons. I'll always be grateful to the student who wrote to me at the beginning of the semester, "I really want to have a favorite author, but I don't know how to find one." That one sent me back to the drawing board for sure! Or the student who said he feels overwhelmed at the library and doesn't know how to find good books by browsing. I never go to the library without a list (or almost never), but my students didn't know they could do this. Goes back to Michele's point about being explicit about what we do.

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    1. Love that your student said "I really want to have a favorite author, but I don't know how to find one." Oh my, how wonderful that is, & what a lot of trust you've built in order for her to feel she could write it. In my last post, I talked about the librarians and my ideas for teaching students better how to browse. We think part of that is impatience, but the other part is probably ignorance. They, as you said, just feel overwhelmed. I can't wait to jump in to see if this can be better! Thanks for your response, too!

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  9. I really enjoyed The Boy Who a Harnessed the Wind. I have also developed a love of anything Steve Jenkins touches, he's brilliant!

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    1. Yes, The boy Who Harnessed The Wind is wonderful. And Gigi, Steve Jenkins lives in Boulder. We keep saying at school that we should have a Steve Jenkins day, & everyone should read his books, etc., the "maybe" have him for a visit. Would be awesome!

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  10. Linda,
    So many great ideas here. It is true that we need to be able to articulate what we want students to know before we are ready to share it with them. You had me thinking as your thinking moved from thinking about readers to thinking about community. You said, "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." How do we pass along all we've learned in #cyberPD and from our wild reading friends (#epicenterreaders)? I hadn't considered this until you shared this.

    Your suggestion for connecting with parents in Goodreads/Shelfari is a smart idea. I plan to give that a try!

    Cathy

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    1. Thanks Cathy, first of all, my school is not a curriculum driven school at all, so everyone really has to be knowledgeable, flexible, along with being ready to move in so many directions with each student. It's a wonderful place to work, but my words about giving information, then giving choice is exactly what we believe the learning should be for students too. I will pass along as much as I think each one I work with is ready for & ask if they want, or need, more. I'll try to keep you in touch to tell how it's going. I hope you'll share too. Yes, I'm excited about the parent sharing idea-so hope I can get it going! Thank you!

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  11. Both books like great! Putting them on hold

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    1. Thanks-hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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  12. As I read your wonderful post I found myself wanting to comment on each point, but there are so many!! I love the idea of connecting parents through Goodreads\Shelfari is a great idea, I am definitely adding this to my list!
    You make an excellent point that we first need to be able to put our thinking into words before we can expect kds to learn. So many times I wrestle with just the right words to explicitly express myself to first graders, this thought will be with me ALL YEAR!
    Enjoyed your post and I am packing many ideas and thoughts into my doggy bag;-)

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    1. I see you're still reading, too, Deb & I just saw the tweet. Thanks. It's been quite a day of reading! There is so much, I suspect if we were all together we'd still be talking. I do enjoy #CyberPD. I agree that the 'right words' for 1st graders may be challenging, but perhaps each one needs something a little different? The words don't need to be all the same I think. As you probably know more than me, each child is so different, some take you brief explanations, & some question more & more. I am excited about the parent/Goodreads or Shelfari idea-hope I can make it work.

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  13. Hi Linda,
    Your school seems so interesting to me and as a librarian, I of course, loved the fact that you have already done planning with your school's librarian for the fall! The browsing sessions are a great idea. I'd love to hear how you implement them with your students. Also, I wanted to comment that The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a one of my favorite books to share with students. I paired it with these videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arD374MFk4w
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QkNxt7MpWM
    and my students were amazed and inspired. It really helped them to think that they could make a difference in their community, too. Thanks for sharing!
    Jamie

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    1. Great to meet you, Jamie, & to hear from you. Thank you for the extra links to accompany the book. Yes, the librarians & I try to work together as often as possible. As for the browsing, we hope to do this by invitations, taking the classes as often as possible during the beginning of the year in order to give them a good start in the library. I'll try to remember to post about it after September, to share how it goes. Thanks, Jamie!

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  14. Thanks for sharing, Linda! You highlighted some of the same points that stood out for me - especially Donalyn's honesty about how conferring / reading notebooks / etc. begin so well-intentioned and then require so much upkeep! I also liked your connection between the "one right answer" and the "one right book." Do you have any good suggestions for reaching the student who uses the "I only want this very specific book about three unrelated things because this will stop me from having to read when that book doesn't exist" strategy? :)

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    1. Thanks Katie for responding, and for the question. I imagine that when working with a student like that, I hope that conversations with a group will help her or him find other books that sound good. The planning ahead with a list of 'what's next' might also be the answer. I agree that kids like that are tough, which is why we thought experiences in 'browsing' will help students broaden their tastes.

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  15. I'm so amazed by how dedicated the teacher bloggers are that I know about. I love the sharing of ideas within is encouraged and passed along so freely!

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    1. Thanks Earl. This has been a joy to hear everyone's ideas about Reading In The Wild. It contains loads of book lists, so you might enjoy it too!

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  16. Linda,
    Your post reminded me that I need to build time, especially at the beginning of the year, to teach my 4th graders how to navigate our classroom library. I need to be more intentional about continuing to browse through the library with them throughout the year to encourage book selection. Thank you so much for reinforcing that for me!!

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    1. As you can see, I really think it's important. We've observed too many students wandering in, not exactly finding a good book, or one they believe is good, & need help. While the librarians are always happy to help, we think it's important that students also know more. Thanks, Laura.

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  17. Hello there dearest Linda. I am sorry to have missed this post last week - such lovely reflections brought about by Reading in the Wild. I love how passionate most teacher-bloggers are about their own reading and their own writing which feed teaching practices. So inspiring. :) I haven't gotten to The Boy who harnessed the wind yet, sounds like a title I should add to my PBB pinterest board. :)

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Having a conversation is a good thing!