Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Book Whisperer Chapter 2



I am so excited to be a part of We Read, We Blog, We Teach again this summer. I am even more excited to dive back into The Book Whisperer. The first time I read this book my Reader's Workshop was turned upside down. We're only two chapters in this time, and my head is already spinning with new ideas and understandings.

The entire time I read Chapter 2: Everybody is a Reader, I kept thinking, "Yes!" or "Sing it, sister!" Sooo many a-ha moments - I can't wait to share them with you!

As a longtime inclusion teacher, I have done a lot of stumbling and growing in my reading instruction. I also teach in a very transient area. Kids come in and out of our classrooms all year long. There have been several times in the last 13 years that I've gone to the door to meet a new student and introduced myself as their reading teacher (we are departmentalized) only to hear, "I'm not a good reader," "I don't like to read," or the one that absolutely breaks my heart - "I can't read." I wish I could say that this has only happened a time or two. Unfortunately, it has happened every year - sometimes multiple times per year.

How is it that by 3rd grade our students have already decided that they "can't read" or that they aren't good at it?



Amen, amen, and amen.

Teachers, if we don't counter the "I can't read" kiddos with a smile and the reassurance that WE are going to be the person to turn that around for them - who will? These developing readers aren't just in middle school anymore - they are walking the halls of our elementary schools every day.

When my students come back to my table for guided reading or a reading conference, they know I have taken the time to pick out books that:
  • are just right for them
  • interest them personally
  • I have already read and given my personal "seal of approval"

Here's why:
  • If I don't take the time to read it, how do I know it's going to help them?
  • If I don't take the time to match books with their interests, how am I ever going to get them to love reading?
  • If I don't take the time to read it, why should they?

By doing those things, I create a culture similar to the one Donalyn Miller describes in Chapter 2...


This is not something I actively practiced until I read The Book Whisperer two summers ago. I tried, but I wasn't putting forth the right amount of time and effort. It's hard - especially in the beginning. But when I heard my kiddos begging for guided reading so that we could move on to the next chapter, I knew that every minute I spent digging through my own books or rifling through the guided reading "book room" at school was worth it.

And she's right. We don't discuss "not" reading - we just jump right in. The first few weeks of school are a little hairy scary during workshop time. Some kids have books that they are interested in, but they are waaaay too hard. Others are reading a favorite for the 957th time. It's okay. Because by the time I've made my way around the room to confer and check-in with each kid, they will have learned how to choose those "just-right books" through our mini-lessons, individual conferences, and guided reading.

I wanted to touch on one more thing before I leave you with some thinking to do...


Those developing readers - "they" in the quote above - are my inclusion kiddos. I mentioned earlier that I teach in a very transient (high poverty) area. One of the things that comes with poverty and a transient population is a higher number of students who have been identified with specific learning needs.

I have been so frustrated over and over with the amount of time my inclusion students spend away from me learning strategies they never get to apply! Donalyn's belief that our kids (no matter where they are as readers) need TIME to read is right on point. When my inclusion kids are with me for reading, I usually snag their guided reading groups first so they can 1) review the strategy or skill we talked about in our mini-lesson and then 2) apply it immediately. I never want my developing readers to get the short end of the stick - none of us do. But we have to be purposeful in planning our small group instruction to make sure their needs are met appropriately.

How do you do that? 

Do you set up a weekly schedule or do you rotate groups a different way? 

How do you fit conferring in?

I'd love for us to share the different ways we meet with our students.

I have a schedule that includes 2 guided reading groups a day or 1 guided reading group with time for individual reading conferences. It changes depending on the day - but there is a scheme and sequence to it all. :)

I'll leave you with a final quote and a link to a fun freebie that (hopefully!) you'll be able to use whenever you head back to school.

Don't let your kids leave your room without helping them to discover great books for them.

To help you "get in there" and find out what makes your kids 'tick' as readers, I updated a file that I created the first time I read The Book Whisperer.

Click to snag this FREEBIE!
Make sure to let me know what you think and leave me some love! :) I hope you'll also stop in and follow along with me this summer!



Happy Reading!

30 comments:

  1. I just heard from a girl this week (who is in a reading intervention program) that she hates reading and will not read all summer : (
    I know for sure that this way of teaching reading (withdrawing her from our class reading groups) has failed her this year for sure. Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts and tips.

    Looking From Third to Fourth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We need more time in our day! One thing I have learned is NOT to pull out kids during reading for reading intervention! I use to think well since they are getting reading help it should be done during reading.
      ~Lorraine
      Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies 
      Visit my Facebook page

      Delete
    2. I have to agree with Lorraine here. Our principal does a fantastic job of working with our special ed team to make sure our kiddos get as much "double dipping" as possible. It is a TON of work, but our kiddos don't miss the area of instruction they need the most! :) More time in the day would definitely make it easier!!

      Delete
  2. I love what you said, "Don't let your kids leave your room without helping them to discover great books for them." This has always been my goal for the year. I don't care what you previous thought about reading. It's my goal that you will not leave my 8th grade class this year without at least one book that you love!

    lifewithmiddleschooler.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love it! I'm working on an end of the year survey as well - and that would be a great question to add: Name one book you've read and loved this year. :)

      Abby
      Third Grade Bookworm

      Delete
  3. One of the biggest things that helped me this past year when I started running a Reading Workshop was that the students had no choice but to read. It all came from the quote you have listed above. When I read that last summer I took it to heart.
    It took one of my little boys who "hated" reading two days to learn that he didn't have a choice, he would read-so he might as well pick something that looks interesting to him. He and I made a deal-I would only recommend books I thought he would really enjoy if he promised to give them a chance and read the first two chapters of any given book-it worked like a charm!
    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's incredible how we can turn kids on to reading by just giving them time to read!
      ~Lorraine
      Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies 
      Visit my Facebook page

      Delete
    2. What a great strategy!! I am stealing that for my reading conferences. :)

      Abby
      Third Grade Bookworm

      Delete
  4. Yay! I'm so glad I found this blog! I just ordered The Book Whisperer and haven't been able to put it down since I got it. It is AMAZING! When I was reading chapter 2 I was having the same thoughts... My kids that are reading severely below grade level are my kids that are being pulled out for all these intervention groups. They learn all these great reading strategies. Then they come back to the classroom and our literacy block is nearly over. They have NO time to APPLY those strategies. Chances are they are NOT reading at home either because they are one of those students who "don't enjoy reading". There just in not enough time in a day for us teachers to get everything in we want to get in! I can't wait to continue reading this blog for the book study! :)

    -Allison
    Adventures in Room 204

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome! I am glad you found us :)
      It's great to read your insight
      ~Lorraine
      Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies 
      Visit my Facebook page

      Delete
    2. So glad you're along for the ride! :) I mentioned this in an earlier comment, but our school (principal + special ed team) works hard to "double dip" our kids instead of having them miss the areas in class they need the most.

      Abby
      Third Grade Bookworm

      Delete
  5. I sort of feel like the "enemy"! :-) This year I am becoming the intervention or pull out teacher. However I hope to set up my room where these students are still going to have choices and most importantly time to read. I will have groups for around 50 minutes and right now I envision my class spending around 20 minutes reading while I confer with individuals. I am hoping my administration sees the value in us spending time this way, hard to say.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't feel like the enemy! Feel like the hero! Just by helping these kids with their reading skills and allowing them to read you will make a big difference in their lives.
      ~Lorraine
      Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies 
      Visit my Facebook page

      Delete
    2. Cathy, the fact that you get 50 minutes with a group is awesome! That does allow them time to read. Please don't feel like the enemy. I know how hard the reading specialist and interventionist works in my school and I appreciate all of the help they have given my children. It's the clock that is our enemy. There is just not enough hours in the day for what we want and need to get accomplished.

      Delete
    3. Oh no!! That was never my intention!!

      You guys have the biggest challenge of all - deciding how much time to spend on explicit instruction and how much time to let them practice independently. I know how frustrating it is. Angie was right on point. The clock is our enemy!!

      A big number of school systems in our state have started to move towards a 4 day week by extending the day by 90 minutes or so. Can you IMAGINE how much we could accomplish with all the extra time??

      You make a big difference - especially when the specialists and classroom teachers work together! :)

      Abby
      Third Grade Bookworm

      Delete
    4. My comments were in jest - sort of. I have been a classroom teacher for around 30 years and this is my first experience with doing an intervention class. I hope to take my goals and desires for the reading class into this specialist position. I only hope that when administration come through the door, I can help them understand that children reading around on the floor and beanbags are using "their time wisely". I am so loving this book study and all the comments! I hope to "chart" this new adventure on my blog.
      chalkdusttosmartboards.blogspot.com

      Delete
    5. Abby: Your comment is so true - when the specialists and the classroom teachers work together! I am always the bad guy when I have to tell the counselor or the "fun" teachers that they can't pull during reading. The kids who need help are looking to escape and those teachers want to pull them during reading time. "Well, it's just SSR, you're not teaching!" It truly takes everyone to be on board.

      Delete
  6. I am really enjoying this book. It's funny, it has voiced what I have thought, but then also put to words things that I didn't realize before reading. I have not yet finished this chapter, but only because I am having to read another book for research for a class as well. The biggest thing so far from this chapter has been that I realized how I let down 3 of my students. They are all pullouts for intervention and I was always concerned with them completing the busy work that I assigned instead of giving them time to come back, relax and just read and enjoy. I've learned so much and I'm only into chapter 2.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love all of the "a-ha" moments we have as we go through each chapter. You are so right! In our district, if the special education teacher has the students for 45+ minutes for a subject area, they are responsible for the report card grade. Once I figured this out, it took a giant weight off of my shoulders. Maybe you can work together with your pull-out teacher to come up with a grade to find a "balance" for next year.

      Thanks for joining us!

      Abby
      Third Grade Bookworm

      Delete
  7. It was interesting reading the second chapter and learning about the different labels for the kiddos . . . I see each of these types of readers in my class. My team and I are trying to figure out ways to get our kids reading . . . to read. Our principal right now is feeling pressure for fluency which means that we are pressured for fluency. I can't stand fluency. I know good readers that are slow and I also know that there are speed readers who have no idea what they've read at all. I'm excited about reading more of the book to figure out how I can tweak my reading groups and how I can make our intervention time more meaningful for all of our students. Maybe we could take our Read Naturally kiddos and have them do it every other day and have them focus more on reading books instead of passages. It's gotten me excited nonetheless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mama Tuttle -

      I tackled the fluency battle myself this year, and learned some things about the importance of setting aside time for explicit fluency instruction, but not letting it take over your reading time. :) Easier said than done, right?

      Look for a post in the next couple of weeks about my plans for fluency next year.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Abby
      Third Grade Bookworm

      Delete
  8. Always one to jump in head first when I find something that I believe in, I began last school year armed with The Daily 5, Cafe, and The Book Whisperer. I was also lucky enough to attend a conference during the school year with Donalyn Miller as the presenter! I cannot express enough how excited I was to free myself of the burden of worksheets and folder activities, and just give the students time to read. Trusting students to make choices for authentic reading and writing activities really helped to build a community of readers in my room like I've never had before! If I ever think to myself well maybe so and so could have scored pass advanced instead of pass proficient on their SOL test if I had only done more worksheet test prep, I just remember how many parents told me their children were now picking up books at home instead of video games. Reading and writing became the thing to do in my room, no matter what stage the reader was at! It really is a change that is worthwhile! Building that community and inspiring the life-long reader! In the end isn't that what it's all about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I'm jealous! I would love to hear Donalyn speak!!

      I love that you mentioned how trusting our students to make authentic choices is key - even in 3rd or 4th grade! We can hold them accountable for this if we are true to our reading conference planning.

      Hooray for a reading victory!

      Abby
      Third Grade Bookworm

      Delete
  9. I have been thinking about the much more positive labels given to readers. Developing Reader is more hopeful than struggling reader. I think it also helps to shift our thinking to giving time and opportunities to develop that reading rather than just how to figure out what the words say and how to answer questions on a test.

    Terri Izatt
    KinderKapers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're exactly right, Terri! I love the terms she uses to identify the readers in her room. So much more positive than the labels we traditionally use!

      Abby
      Third Grade Bookworm

      Delete
  10. Miller's positive outlook and "labels" for her not-so-enthusiastic readers really stood out to me, too. I appreciate the hope she provided to her students along with her vast knowledge of books she recommended to them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That "hope" is so important, isn't it?!?! She is true to her word - Mrs. Miller is a voracious reader and she manages to read books to recommend to her students as well as personal books all year long! One of my goals this year is to read more books I can talk about in my classroom more often. I tend to stick to my favorites - gotta get out of that rut!

      :) Abby
      Third Grade Bookworm

      Delete
  11. I was hoping that someone could share the methods they use for successfully helping students pick books that are both a good fit and also of interest to them. This is something that I struggle with each school year. It takes awhile to get to know each student and I'm never sure how and where to begin. I also noticed this past school year that by allowing my students the freedom to choose their own books, they'd also continually choose graphic novels or comic books. I'd like to get them reading more novels... Maybe this is something that I can correct during conferencing (i.e. "I've noticed that you're often choosing this certain type of book...maybe I can help you find something else that you would enjoy", etc.). Do you limit the number of certain genres of books you allow your students to read? How do you get a student to stick with a book (I like the 2-chapters "deal" strategy)? How do you have your students keep track of the books they are reading and have read?
    Yeesh! That was a mouthful...

    :-) Stephanie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Stephanie!

      I definitely have 2-3 mini lessons at the beginning of the year on choosing just right books. We create a chart during the first lesson on what it means for a book to be easy, just right, or challenging for someone. I've seen several of these charts pop up on Pinterest lately! We go back and review it once or twice in the weeks that follow. I usually have a book tote with a random assortment of books in it. We talk about choosing a variety of texts and making sure that our book picks are close to our personal reading level. You might even role play being a Level ___ reader and asking your students if they think you chose just right books or not. I would have a few just right books, a few easy, and a few challenge to see if they can describe why those books would not be a good fit for a Level ___ reader. I certainly have to address this all year long in reading conferences as well.

      Hope that helps!

      Abby
      Third Grade Bookworm

      Delete