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):
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.
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!
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!