I'm joining professionals from all over the world for this year's CyberPD as they explore Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild. I'll be blogging and tweeting my thoughts out as I read. #Cyberpd is hosted by @cathymere at Reflect and Refine, @laurakomos at Ruminate and Invigorate, and @litlearningzone at Literacy Zone. If you'd like to join in, check out any of their blogs or follow the hashtag #cyberPD
I bought this book and read it as soon as it came out. But I was missing something--the chance to TALK about it. I was so happy to hear that Cathy, Laura and Michelle chose it for this year's #CyberPD!
Since I am a high school teacher, I come at this from a little different perspective than those of you who teach elementary school, or even middle school. But trust me, I found LOTS AND LOTS of takeaways.
I am a wild reader. I read everything. I share what I read with others. I talk about books with others. And I always have a "next book". I buy books, check them out from the library, listen to them on audio and read them on my Kindle app.
And I've taught reading in various forms and grade levels for most of my teaching years. Next year, I will be teaching two new classes, College Prep Literature (obviously upper level class for those who plan on going to a four year college) and Individualized Reading (meant for those who need another English credit and are probably not college bound). As I read Reading in the Wild again, those two classes are uppermost in my mind.
Donalyn was right when she wrote in the intro that many secondary teachers don't create a supportive environment for reading. But that doesn't mean all of us. There are plenty of teachers like me. Teachers who put their reading/writing lives front and center in their classrooms. Teachers who share books. Teachers who read aloud. Teachers who recommend great books to kids based on what they know about those kids. Teachers who know that there is a gateway book out there for everyone.
Chapter 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read
I've been thinking for weeks about how I will share the importance of reading with my juniors in CPLit. Besides the obvious--they'll be doing LOTS of reading in college, a lot more than they are used to--I need to work with them on understanding what it means to be a lifelong reader, a wild reader. I also need to convince them they do have time for reading.
Two years ago, after reading Kittle's Book Love, I began giving my students ten minutes at the beginning of class for independent reading. We figured how many pages they could read in two hours, kept track of what we read, and nothing else. No reading logs, no quizzes, no projects. Just read. Even my conferences with them were informal. They were expected to read outside of class to complete their page count. With sports practices, jobs, friends, family, and high school life in general, my job will be to show them how "reading on the edge" will help them continue reading. I need to make sure they understand that they don't have to sit down and read for an hour after school every day, or even a half hour. They need to keep they books handy and read when they have a few moments.
I loved the questions that Donalyn shared in the "reading itinerary" section. I'm going to create my own and have students write blog posts about them. It will be very similar to the writing autobiography that I have students complete in Creative Writing. I think it's important for students to think and reflect on their reading lives and those questions sound like a great blog post to me :)
Chapter 2: Wild Readers Self-Select Reading Material
Much of chapter 2 has great ideas I can use in individualized reading. I like the reflection questions and conversations Donalyn has with students. We will definitely talk about getting through the slow parts and abandoning books that we have given a good shot but just aren't grabbing our attention. I want to conference with each of them about books they've liked in the past and how they choose books now. These are readers who may struggle or may just not like reading. It will be my job in the first few days to get past those obstacles and get them to choose books they really like, not the easy ones, the ones with not a lot of pages, not the ones they've read three or four times (although there is a place for that).
I share books in many different ways with students. I put book trailers on my website. I keep a list of books I've read during the school year on my door. I book talk anything new that comes into my room. But I want students to share their books and I'm trying to come up with ways for them to do that without it becoming just another "diorama project". I want to think of ways for them to share, to connect, to try new reads. In Individualized Reading, I can make the sharing part of the class expectations. In CP Lit this is the tough part. I want them to read independently, so how do a I reconcile having them write a review or make a book trailer? I guess it's something I'll just keep thinking about.....
Curating a Classroom Library
I worked in my room at school today, getting my classroom library put back together again after my room has been cleaned.
I love my classroom library. I'm very lucky to have supportive administrators who see the value in reading. This is an old picture--I've added more shelves and more books since this one was taken a couple of years ago. I have library cards in all of my books and students sign them and put them in a box I keep on my desk. When they are finished, they find the card, put it back in the book and put the book back in the returned book bin. I generally put them back on the shelf, although after the first few weeks, many students put them back also.
Do I lose books? Of course. I have purchased two copies of Insurgent in the last year and both have disappeared. When I taught middle school, I lost count of how many copies of She Said Yes I bought. For whatever reason, books disappear. If it's worth replacing, I do. If not, well, I cross it off my inventory.
How do I get them? I haunt garage sales and Goodwill stores. I've found lots of treasures for little money by doing that. But as I said earlier, I also use part of our department budget for purchasing books and I can also use at-risk funds for buying books. I keep a list of books I want for my room and have an order ready whenever they tell me there is money. Like a good scout, I am always prepared.
Until next week!