Monday, January 26, 2015

Examining Reading Habits - Great Conversations



Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Beth, Anna and Betsy and all this blogging community for the Tuesday Slice of Life!  


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 My Reading Habits – Wondering What Students Do, Too

Sometime early in the year, I’ve always liked to have students write about their reading habits, what they’re currently reading, what kinds of things they read besides books, what they love and what they don’t.  I write too, to let students know how diverse reading habits can be.  Those who are avid readers will see that I’m usually reading several books at a time, as they do, and those who are less enthusiastic will see that reading behavior doesn’t just mean books. 
This time because I have a new class, I want to find out more about the habits of these new students. I already know some by the books they're choosing and the research they've finished, but I need more so I can give them a big nudge for the rest of the year.

Here’s a sample of my reading during a regular day:


o   The local newspaper.  I read the front-page articles, and if especially interested, finish them when they move to the inner pages. I receive the Skimm, the Huffington Post, and the local Denver Paper, check the front page of the New York Times, wish I had time to do more. This is wake up reading, starting the day with words, coffee, yogurt and cereal.
o   Several times a day, I read blogs from my online reader, many, many of them, and then turn to the e-mail.  From e-mail, I receive newsletters from Choice Literacy, IRA and NCTE, which I skim, and save for the future if some of what is shared looks like I’ll want to look again.
o   For writing inspiration, I am currently reading several books about writing that I can share with students.
o   For non-fiction, which I read a bit at a time, I’m reading Port Chicago 50, by Steve Sheinkin, about a little known civil rights issue during World War II.
o   For teaching, I am reading What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund; I've become fascinated by the visual in reading and learning. This book is amazing, filled with quotes, visuals, etc. I also read articles Two Writing Teachers share, the Stenhouse articles, and some from Education Week.  I also read the NCTE journal, In The Middle and others from IRA.
o   For pleasure, and as a judge, I’m reading and re-reading the finalists in the poetry Cybils awards.


That’s it, mostly.  You who are readers know that readers will pick up anything to read just a bit, to see what it’s like, or to skim something interesting.  When I share some or all of this with students, they begin to examine their days, and realize that they’re really reading more than they think.  I didn’t add texts, but they will, along with Facebook, Instagram & their preferred social media.  After discussions about what we read, the next step is how do we read each kind of print?  And then, sometimes questions come about how fast, which mean ‘how much to skim and when’?  And, where is the most productive place for focused reading? 

Making a list of what is currently being read supports great conversation, which leads to other conversations, some lessons in different approaches to different kinds of reading, and recommendations by peers.  Reading, critical to all learning, is one of the topics that can’t be ignored just because students appear to read well.  There’s a depth and a breadth of individual learning to consider. 

photo credit: Indian Homemaker (Kamera Krazy) via photopin cc

38 comments:

  1. What a fun way to connect your own reading life with your students' reading lives. It's amazing that so much of our reading is not considered real reading. Interesting to look at our reading in terms of types of reading like you did.

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    1. Thanks Ramona, this exercise makes good conversation & hopefully starts students thinking in different ways about reading!

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  2. I like this connection, too between your reading life and your students reading lives. What an informative strategy. I enjoyed a glimpse into your reading patterns.

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    1. Thanks, Kim, I'm glad you enjoyed the thinking about reading.

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  3. It's so interesting to examine our reading lives. So much is beyond books. Showing that to your students is so powerful. The conversations this brings out must validate them as readers. You don't have to be holding a book, to have reading be a way of life, a way to see the world.

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    1. Yes, that is exactly what it's trying to do. Thanks, Julieanne.

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  4. I'm intrigued by the visual literacy element of your study, and I think this is very important -- maybe more so than in any other day and age (I think but maybe not). So much of our reading world in online spaces and multimedia zones are visual literacy, and making sense of it all is a very complex task.
    Kevin

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    1. Helping students "see" what they're reading feels critical to me, helps them slow down and use the "pictures" to understand more (I hope!). Thanks, Kevin.

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  5. Such interesting ideas, Linda! I always joke with my students that I can't eat breakfast unless I have the back of a cereal box to read. I am always reading, too! Enjoy your warm weather. We are cold here in WI, but no snow. :)

    Jennifer

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    1. Fun to hear about the cereal box reading, Jennifer. I grew up reading Wheaties boxes with my grandfather! The weather is strange, and we are so very dry-need snow! Thanks!

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  6. I love the reflection on your reading life. What a great bulletin board that would make in a school! (I'll give you kudos)

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    1. Your response makes me wonder how other colleagues would respond, Anita? I never thought of sharing like that! Maybe...?

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  7. I couldn't agree more. If students can read but choose not to do it then what have we accomplished. Talking about what we are reading and our reading process is so important.

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    1. Exactly, and hopefully the talk will open new thoughts for them. Thanks!

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  8. I love the next step you take with sharing reading lives...talking about HOW we read each of these things. I'm interested to see what your students share and how the conversation goes. Great idea!!!

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    1. I will share, Michelle. Yes, that next step is the important one, but first must get the students thinking. Thanks!

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  9. Especially as children get older, I think this conversation is so important. This year, I've been having this focused conversation with kids about writing. When I write, how I write, etc. Your ideas have given me much to think about. Thank you!

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    1. The writing part is the other half, isn't it, Kendra. Always a process, each person a little different? It will be enlightening to see what I find. Thanks!

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  10. Do you think you read more now that you're so connected to reading thru your devices? I'd say yes on my end. I'm not even sure just how much I read given the power to click to links. SO cool!!!!

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    1. I read more 'different' things, Bonnie, find it hard to finish a book as fast because of all the 'other' reading. You bring up a good point. Now that my students are blogging, they're reading more of their classmates' writing, whereas earlier, they might only have read as a pair for response. Thanks!

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  11. I know many teachers say there is never enough time in the day to do all the reading they want, do you think kids ever think that? I think your exercise really opens their eyes to all the possibilities of reading.

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    1. I hope that's what it does, Elsie. I'll have to see what happens. Thank you!

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  12. Until we sit down and make a list like this I don't many of us realize how much we do read. I used to also have my students make a list of all of the things they wrote--letters, blogs, tweets, shopping lists, etc. many surprised themselves when they saw that ther do actually write.

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    1. Yes, the writing list can be long and varied too. I've done that, quickly, with this class, but because I was in a hurry, only in conversation. Perhaps it's time to return to do a list? Thanks!

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  13. Conversations such as the ones you are having with your kids are so vital to their reading lives, Linda. They need to see adults living active and fulfilling reading lives - which is exactly what you are so beautifully modeling.

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    1. Yes, see us doing these things, plus hear from all the classmates, too-powerful! Thanks, Tara.

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  14. Great comments form everyone. Your post makes us reflect. I have found that I have become more selective with my reading now that there are both print and digital materials available.

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    1. I don't know if I'm more selective, but reading more "different" and "short" things. I've nearly stopped with magazines, although I pick up an Atlantic once in a while-have no time for more. Thanks for that thought about being more selective, Terje!

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  15. Thanks for the reminder about talking our reading lives with students. I haven't done this yet, and I think it's a good time for it!

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    1. It would be good to hear what you find from younger students, Michele. I hope you try it. Thanks.

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  16. These conversations are so important. You are sharing your reader-self with your students and letting them know that you are still learning.

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    1. Yes. I talk about books all the time, but less about all the other things I'm reading. It may be an eye-opener! Thanks, Margaret.

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  17. Wow, Linda, this is such an insightful and authentic look into your life as a reader! I bet your students are fascinated by this. I know I was. :)

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    1. Thanks, Dana, I haven't shared with them yet-soon. We'll see what they think about it, and what they write.

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  18. Wow- I wish you would post an update weekly on your reading life. So many titles to explore. And what I love most of all is that you are walking the walk.

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    1. Thank you. I do review books on Mondays and Wednesdays, but NOT all about the 'other' things I read. Maybe every once in a while? Thanks!

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  19. Quite a range of reading materials! I think it's sooooo important that kids understand that a reading life is way more than simply reading books!

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    1. Me, too, Carol, and I don't know if these students have had much of that kind of conversation. It'll be fun to see!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!