#cyberPD #1: Reading in the Wild

 

cyber PD

The 4th annual summer#cyberPD conversation begins today, hosted by:

Cathy Mere at  Reflect and Refine: Building A Learning Community (@CathyMere)

Michelle Nero at Literacy Learning Zone(@litlearningzone)

Laura Komos at Ruminate and Invigorate (@LauraKomos)

This year’s pick was the fabulous (and timely):

reading-in-the-wild

The schedule for discussion is:

July 9th: Chapters 1 & 2  at Reflect and Refine

July 16th: Chapters 3 & 4 hosted by Laura at Ruminate and Invigorate

July 23rd: Chapters 5 & 6 hosted by Michelle Nero at Literacy Learning

Some of my thoughts:

I love the way Donalyn puts reading at the very center of her classroom life – it is the driving force that motivates everything from her planning to her classroom layout , and the way her record keeping is devised and organized.   And I love the way the act of reading is infused with both purpose and joy  – how lovely to pose for shelfies to display ones reading life, or a graffiti wall to collect and celebrate quotes!  We are always telling our kids how important it is to read, but making their reading lives visible is powerful motivation and validation.

 

Chapter 1:

Donalyn’s discussion of why it is important to set aside time for daily reading and discussion of reading  in the classroom struck a chord with me.  We are so pressed to fit ever more “things” into our language arts curriculum, especially in these brave new days of testing and gathering data for all sorts of evaluations and reports.  But  Donalyn makes a strong case for never yielding on the matter on dedicated reading time when she writes: “During reading time, our students practice more than their reading skills; they practice living like readers…Students need to connect with other readers and participate in a reading culture that values them.  Our students must see themselves as readers, or they will never embrace reading beyond school.”   (p.9)

Daily reading and conversation about reading builds those wild reading habits Donalyn writes about, and they also make it evident to our kids that there is a special joy in the communal aspect of reading – sharing favorite titles and characters, puzzling through books and coming to grips with strategies to help comprehension, meeting in small groups or conferring individually, all of these are part of a classroom’s reading community.  Students who experience reading communities like this take away, I think, the building blocks for lifelong wild reading habits.

The topic of “fake reading” (p.25-26) was also hugely important to me.  As a sixth grade teacher, I see my reading workshop as the last chance my kids will get to identify and turn this habit around.  I loved that Donalyn zeroed in on the fact that sometimes our most “competent” readers are the ones who have become most adept at fake reading, or employ more than one strategy to fake read –  so true!

Chapter 2:

I loved the focus on the importance of the read aloud in the classroom, and the care with which read alouds are selected. My favorite bits:

“Children gravitate towards the books we bless in the classroom, and read alouds are the ultimate endorsement.”

“…the more developing readers you have in a class, the more often you should read aloud to them.”

“Reading aloud reminds them that reading is pleasurable, an activity they enjoyed before it turned into an academic chore.”

There is something so special about the way kids react when it’s “that time” – the time to find a comfy spot on the reading rug to get ready to listen.  My ex-students always remember the books we read aloud in our year together, and they always remember their favorite reading spots, that rocking chair or cushion that they had to have, as though these were all part of their emotional connection to our reading community.  I love that Donalyn celebrates that.

I also appreciated that Donalyn  wrote about expanding our ideas about what to read aloud (many varieties of texts, both short and long texts), and to also “unpack” the read alouds that don’t go well: “unpacking our reading mistakes reveals to students that all readers, even you, make book selection errors.”   Our kids learn so much from these honest conversations about the ups and downs in a  reading life.

Thank you Cathy, Laura, and Michelle for hosting this conversation!

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9 thoughts on “#cyberPD #1: Reading in the Wild

  1. I too enjoyed the talk about using a variety to genres in the read aloud. So often we forget that there are many kinds of interesting pieces we can read and share as a community. I didn’t address the ‘fake’ reading this time, but those teachers of older students who have begin independent reading each day are finding that it helps students get started in their chosen books, & they find they can get a lot of reading done, so don’t have to “fake” it. And-hope you write about these recent presentations you just attended!

  2. Tara,
    This speaks volumes, “I love the way the act of reading is infused with both purpose and joy.” Your synthesis of Donalyn’s book made me take pause and consider her ideas more deeply. I find it interesting whether we teach grade 1 or grade 6 or grade 10 or college students, many of these ideas resonate across levels.

    Thanks for taking the time to join the conversation,
    Cathy

  3. The read aloud discussion is making me think about how I could incorporate it into my classes. I know it’s valuble, but with only 45 minutes per class, it’s hard to find the time. I am going to try it in one class and have started looking for short reads in different genres that might get kids interested in reading similar things. Lots to think about in these first two chapters!

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Donalyn’s book. So many of the lines you quote resonate with me as well, but I think this line is really critical: “Children gravitate towards the books we bless in the classroom, and read alouds are the ultimate endorsement.” Happy reading!

  5. Tara,

    I loved your ideas and thoughts on the chapters. I also teach 6h grade, so it’s wonderful to read how you incorporate the ideas as well. I’m curious about your read alouds. As a former 3rd grade teacher, I had my read aloud titles down, but 6th graders have thrown me a little. What do you start the year with? Do you have any favorites that you go back to each year or do you change it up? Thank you so much!!

    Katy

  6. Tara,
    Thanks for joining in this timely discussion! Your way with words should be plastered in the “praise” for the book section! Beautiful synthesis … just loved that first paragraph!

    I love that you continue to read aloud, to share positive reading moments with your students, to provide a reading diet with variety. This makes me smile: “There is something so special about the way kids react when it’s “that time” – the time to find a comfy spot on the reading rug to get ready to listen.” Kids are kids, no matter their age!

    And there is so much truth in this: “Our kids learn so much from these honest conversations about the ups and downs in a reading life.” Many great conversations that need to be had to create those wild readers!

    Thanks for sharing your insights, Tara!
    Michelle

  7. I read this book last summer and it supported and reinvigorated so much in my classroom last year. I loaned my book out and need it back after reading what you wrote. I love the quotes you pulled from Chapter 2 especially this one: “…the more developing readers you have in a class, the more often you should read aloud to them.”
    Hoping to catch you on the next chat!

  8. Tara,
    Thanks for joining in the #cyberPD fun! Your last two paragraphs really hit home with me. I love the mental image you created for me with “that time” in our classrooms. Students love to get comfy and settle in to listen. I had to follow Donalyn’s advice and put away our class read aloud when there was a substitute in our classroom. Otherwise, my students would complain that it just wasn’t the same since she didn’t read it the way I did. 🙂

    All too often, I think we avoid conversations about books that we abandon but I couldn’t agree with you more. We need to have these honest conversations with our kids, even when it impacts a book we’re reading together. It’s what real readers do, right?

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