Disclaimer: The ideas in this blog are not novel. They are not original. They are appropriately “sourced” where credit can be applied. What is new / different / novel is perhaps the thinking that connects the ideas. Research-based.ideas! Student-centered.ideas! Many folks KNOW this. But do the teaching practices match the teacher beliefs?
Students need to read more in order to be better readers. Volume matters. (Richard Allington)
How can students read more?
A. Donalyn Miller – 40 book challenge
B. Book logs that keep track of books read. Compare lists over time.
C. Book lists kept by students that rate the books (scale of 1-5) and list genre.
D. Independent reading during class time followed up with time to talk about what was read.
Which ones of these have you tried and abandoned?
Did they work for awhile but then student interest seemed to wane and it seemed like students were “cheating” and recording books that they really hadn’t read? Or perhaps books that students began to read but when the going got tough, the books were abandoned?
Did you REALLY understand the goal / purpose behind that undertaking? Did you read the book behind the practice pushed into the classroom? Participate in a book study? Or did you find the pages on Pinterest or TPT and “try it” as a pilot with a high degree of skepticism.
If you went to the link above for Donalyn Miller’s 40 book challenge and read and even digested that post, you read these two paragraphs.
“The 40 Book Challenge isn’t an assignment you can simply add to outdated, ineffective teaching practices. The Book Challenge rests on the foundation of a classroom reading community built on research-based practices for engaging children with reading. Assigning a 40 Book Challenge as a way to generate grades or push children into reading in order to compete with their classmates corrupts everything I have written and said about reading. The 40 Book Challenge is meant to expand students’ reading lives, not limit or define it.
The 40 Book Challenge is a personal challenge for each student, not a contest or competition between students or classes. In every competition or contest there are winners and losers. Why would we communicate to our students that they are reading losers? For some students, reading 40 books is an impossible leap from where they start as readers, and for others, it’s not a challenge at all.”
This is just a small piece of Donalyn’s 40 book challenge. Reading one blog, one tweet, or attending one hour long session at a conference is not enough for deep learning. But it is enough to whet your appetite. Your appetite for life-long learning as well as your yearning for a solution that makes sense to you, your students, and your community will grow. Your appetite may lead to a mini action research cycle as you implement a research-based strategy in your classroom.
A week ago a friend of mine asked on Twitter: “Does anyone have a genre chart they can share to encourage strong readers’ growth?” And Dayna had several results immediately.
Steve shared this:
and Julieanne shared this:
I immediately drooled over both and wondered about combining them and adding
- Quarter 1 Goal ________________
- Quarter 2 Goal ________________
- Quarter 3 Goal ________________
- Quarter 4 Goal ________________
and then Steve added that his students also do this quarterly in google slides:
Why is this important?
Dayna Wells (@daywells) a principal in California asked the question. Two 5th grade teachers replied. Steve Peterson (@inside the dog) from Iowa and Julieanne Harmatz (@jarhartz) from California. Teachers collaborating online to share their practices. (And of course commercial #107 for WHY you really should have a professional Twitter account! ) Because if you followed them on Twitter, you would also know that they all three blog as well and you would have access to additional resources about / from each of them! (Commercial #108 for Twitter)
Relevance? What do you measure?
Matt Renwick (@ReadByExample), a public school administrator in Wisconsin, believes that “volume” is not enough for reading goals in his January 1, 2017 post “I didn’t meet my reading goal (and is that okay?)”. Goodreads said, “Better luck in 2017.” But his reading was rich. And look at all the qualities that Goodreads did include in their report as compiled by Kendra Grant:
If you go back to answer choices A, B, C, and D above, how do those match up with the goodreads list. I think 5 of the 7 data points are easily covered. Do you NEED 5 data points? Maybe. Maybe not. Do you need ALL 7 data points? Maybe. Maybe not. It all depends upon the ultimate goal of your independent reading.
Who our students are?
Who our students might become as readers?
What’s the ultimate goal?
Is the purpose for a reading goal . . . to hold a student accountable for what they read? Or provide proof that they read and understood and (gasp) remembered a boatload of details to answer a quiz?
Or is the purpose of the reading goal to provide an opportunity to NURTURE a love for reading? And to encourage / nudge EVERY student to become an avid reader? See “Let’s Not Kill the Love of Reading” by Dr. Tony Sinanis (@TonySinanis).
Is the purpose to make sure that the teacher is helping all students to “BECOME a reader” (Thank you, Dr. Mary Howard – @DrMaryHoward) ?
What data do you need?
The data needs to match your ultimate goal AND the needs of the students. Are you thinking, “OK, I can keep doing what I have been doing?”
2. “Students do not need:
Programs / contests that provide extrinsic reward
Packets of activities”
Why are they missing?
Section 2 of the table of contents is included so you can see the practices that support increased student achievement.
“SECTION 2: WHY NOT? WHAT WORKS?
Why Independent Reading Matters and the Best Practices to Support It, Barbara Moss
- Does Independent Reading Influence Student Achievement?
- If We Know Independent Reading Is Effective, Why Don’t We Do It?
- A New Reason for Independent Reading: The Common Core State Standards
- What Practices Are Critical for Effective Independent Reading?
- Why Independent Reading Matters Most for Striving Readers and English Learners
- The Last Word: An Overview of Independent Reading Implementation by Teachers
Need more evidence? Check out “Three Keys to Creating Successful Reading Experiences” by Pernille Ripp (1/4/2017) and “Revisiting My One Classroom Non-Negotiable” by Christina Nosek.
YOU MUST . . .
- stop wasting students’ time,
- stop assigning “activities” in the name of accountability,
- make sure that anything you
askrequire students to do is that which YOU are willing to do as well in your own independent reading life.
DO YOU . . .
- keep a log?
- set goals?
- reflect on your goals?
- meet your goals?
- discuss how you feel about your reading?
- review the text complexity of your own reading?
Do your personal practices match your instructional practices?
You MUST utilize some “lens” or filter to sort out resources.
These are NOT all equal. A single number is NOT a goal!
How does your goal match your purpose? What are you REALLY measuring?
Process Goal for this Post:
Combine tweets; google docs, drawings, and slides; blog posts, books and Voxer conversations for a blog post with at least eight links for the reader to peruse and consider as they reflect upon whether their current teaching practices SUPPORT increased student reading! (And thanks to Dayna, Steve, Julieanne, Mary, Christina, Matt, Tony, Donalyn, Debbie and Barbara for the wonderful way that their work supports each other!)
Kylene Beers facebook post about lifetime readers!
And today’s theme across the day was:
Do what it takes to BUILD a community of Readers!
. . .
Rev Up Your Teaching Muscles to Make Your Whole Group Instruction as Potent as Possible (Mini-lessons, Shared Reading, Read Aloud) (K-2)
Spending more time studying shared reading is definitely NOW on my “To Do” list for this summer as we heard (and experienced) the benefits of shared reading where the teacher has a large text (big book, chart, smart board, doc camera) that the teacher and students read chorally. The three basic purposes that we explored for shared reading were: introduce a new text, reread a text, or as a warm-up text. As with many reading components, the amount of time spent on shared reading can vary as long as students are ENGAGED! And to learn that the time could be just five minutes here or there makes the plan to include shared reading so much easier!
The benefits for students are many. The most obvious is that accuracy, fluency, and comprehension all improve with rereading so beginning approximations are celebrated. Students are rereading with their friends so they have built in support from the teacher and fellow students. And shared reading helps build that sense of a community of readers in the classroom.
We participated in demonstrations and we demonstrated. Just a few of the skills we considered:
- guess the covered word
- 1:1 correspondence
- slide the word
- the word begins with
- the word ends with
- rhyming word
- clues from the picture
- cross-checking print
- retelling – comprehension
- rereading for fluency – “let’s reread that together”
- what do you predict next
- look for patterns
- build vocabulary
One book we used was Brown Bear, Brown Bear. This shared reading could end with writing our own book.
______, _____ what do you see?
I see ______ looking at me.
If student names are on post its and the class practices reading this with their own names, they are also beginning to get in the repetitions needed for some sight words. Will some be memorizing? Of course! It’s so important that auditory memory gets involved, but the teacher can, by pointing to the words, have students match her pacing!
- Shared reading is a valuable use of readers’ time when students are reading!
- Interactions can include gestures and movements during shared reading.
- Text variety is important: listening centers, You tube video with text or Raz kids. You don’t have to wait until you have little copies of the text!
- Shared reading is a safe way for students to “join in” reading. Not everyone’s voice will be heard the first time but the goal is to encourage student voices to become the voice heard in shared reading.
- Shared reading is fun, exciting, and joyful. What a great way to sneak in a bit of content/holiday/fun that just doesn’t fit elsewhere!
Beyond Guided Reading: Expanding Your Repertoire of Small Group Work in Nonfiction (3-8)
I love that Kathleen starts a bit each day with the WHY we need to be doing this work. And it’s all about “Just DO it”! If instruction is responsive we need to have “way more conversations with our colleagues” in order to be more cohesive. “Responding to the needs of your students requires content knowledge and planning! (not showing off tools)”
For this reason, supervisors need to understand workshop and reading processes! When they are in classrooms, they need to KNOW what they are seeing. In repertoire teaching, the teachers also need to be specific. You would hear the teacher say something like “I expect to see some of you doing . . . . and some of you will be doing the work of the lesson.” Teachers need to be educating supervisors by setting up lessons for “repertoire” in connection and link. “What’s one old way? What’s one new way? What are the two things you will do as a student? (BRILLIANT!)
Two teaching methods that we worked with today were inquiry (fluency demo) and reminder – definitely coaching light! We have to continue to know how to help students meet their goals and build the habits of readers. Again this requires deep content knowledge.
- Organize your small group materials. Have extra copies of all tools out for students with a student as “Tool Monitor”.
- Study the progressions with colleagues. Develop the “cheat sheets” – four levels on a page to be cut apart.
- Reading notebooks have the evidence of work towards student goals. That can be an index in the back.
- Make sure that a student does the work during small group time. They have to be practicing and doing the work for it to transfer. And group time does mean LESS reading time!
- Celebrate what students CAN do! Focus on the CANS! Celebrate all the things the readers CAN DO! (They already know what they can’t do!)
Falling in Love with Close Reading in Nonfiction – Kate Roberts
Kate began with a bit of background about close reading. What it is. What it isn’t. How long we have been close reading – “since the monks were in caves with candle lights flickering trying to determine the meaning of the divine”.
Engaged . . .
If you need background on Falling In Love with Close Reading, do go to Kate or Chris’s blog here. It’s so NOT boring to do some close reading with Kate.
Lyrics for: “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Justin Timberlake
Step 1. Listen to the song twice. What would my kids say the message or meaning is? Listen again and make a vertical list of all the words or phrases in the song that speak to you and go with your current message.
Step 2. Sync up your list with a partner and look for patterns. What words or phrases are the same? Use this list of evidence to find patterns (This is the HARD work of close reading.) Which words or phrases go together? Color code!
Step 3. Think some more – what is the message in this song?
Step 4. Transfer to written text. Practice with nonfiction text.
- We do “close read” the things we love – pay attention and even “hyper attention” to those things we love. Let’s build upon that awareness/attention/attraction.
- Close reading should be fun and joyful.
- Close reading with a song or poem is a wonderful entry point. It can’t be drudgery!
- Close reading is about beginning with the text for evidence. Don’t leap to interpretation or “guessing” what someone / test writer wants!
- An act of close reading is taking the rough draft idea to a more interesting idea for you!
Voice and Choice: Fostering Reading Ownership
This slide sums up much of what Donalyn Miller said to us. I have so many responses to Donalyn’s presentation: as a teacher, coach, mother, grandmother, and most of all, as a reader.
I listened to the heartbreak in her description of her daughter – an avid early reader – whose reading life diminished in middle school because “that’s just not so important here” to the joy of being at a Montana reading meeting when Sarah called her, “I just finished The Great Gatsby and I need to talk about it but Dad doesn’t remember it.”
What harm is being done to students in the name of inappropriate actions, beliefs and practices? Well-intentioned? Yes. Mis-guided? Yes.
To support you, go to Donalyn’s most popular posts.
or to hear about books – The Nerdy Book Club!
- To be better readers, kids need to read every day.
- Provide access to books that kids CAN and WANT to read.
- Access to books should not depend on teacher’s ability to fund his/her own library. “NO ONE asks the basketball coach to provide his own basketballs.”
- Books need to be mirror, windows, and doors to lead readers to connections.
- “We are in the hope business. Now more than ever there is a need for critical reading. For a better world, send more readers out in the world. It is never to be late to be a reader.”
How are you building communities of readers?
What actions support your beliefs?
What is your plan to build even stronger communities that love to read and choose to read?
How important is a reading life?
A recent post To Be a Reader included quotes from Donalyn Miller’s “Getting on the Bus“. Lanny Ball wrote about supporting middle school readers in “Be a Reader Yourself: Lessons from the Branding World“. And then I saw this from Regie Routman, “What I’m Reading, February 2016“.
As a reader, I have many choices. I can share my reading notebook with lists of books read. I can blog about favorites. I can talk endlessly about the books I’m reading, the ones I have just read or the ones that linger on my most favorite list. I can participate in the Title Talk Twitter chat on the last Sunday of each month. I can peruse the many entries from The Nerdy Book Club. There’s even an “It’s Monday, What are You Reading?” group.
As a reader, I must read! And I must share that passion and excitement that I find when an author writes something so captivating that I believe everyone should read it. My favorite new children’s book is:
My favorite new series for middle/high school students:
How are you sharing your readerly life?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Get ready to share your writerly life with the March Slice of Life Challenge!
Traveling to new places
Visiting old places
Making new friends
Visiting old friends
Learning new things
Relearning things left along the way
Collecting words and images
Revisiting great words and images from the past . . .
Each day MUST involve some personal choice
As necessary as the air I breathe!
Something I choose.
To grow my thoughts!
To talk about books!
To write about books!
To find worlds to LOVE!
Do you read?
Why do you read?
If you teach readers, you MUST be a reader!
If you teach readers, you must BE a joyous reader!
Check out Donalyn Miller’s Nerdy Book Club post, “Getting on the Bus”, is a powerful read. Stop, go read it. Already read it? Go read it again! Demonstrate to yourself the power of rereading to confirm knowledge or celebrate the language.
My favorite quote:
Is this you?
If not, why not?
What’s your favorite quote? How have you shared it? How would we know?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
A common theme in these four sessions that I attended at #NCTE15 was the importance / necessity of involving students in their own learning. (It’s a connection that I could make about ALL of my #NCTE15 sessions in retrospect.)
1. Bring Students into the Conversation: Goal-Setting, Tool-Making that Supports Transfer
#TCRWP Staff Developers: Valerie Geschwind, Marjorie Martinelli, Ryan Scala, Amy Tondeau began this session with a “Turn and Talk”.
Think of a recent goal that you have achieved.
What were the conditions that helped you to reach that goal?
Motivation is a Result of . . .
- Social interaction
Tools that Support Self- Assessment
- Tools created from Mini-Lessons
Goal Setting with Students and Language that Honors Choice
And then Val introduced the cycle of learning. . . in student language.
- I am working towards a new goal.
- Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it is really hard!
- I need my tool to know each step.
- I am practicing my goal all the time: in every book or in every piece of writing.
- I use my tool as a check-in.
- I can use my goal in lots of places.
- I can teach other people what my goal is and help them do it.
I loved the idea of the three stages. I believe Brook Geller first introduced me to the belief at #TCRWP 2013 July Reading Institute that most “students are over taught and under practiced.” Many students seem to need more practice time with specific feedback and a lot less “teacher talk”. In this case a practitioner is someone who is actively engaged in the doing, who repeatedly exercises or performs an activity or skill to acquire, improve, or maintain proficiency, or who actually applies or uses an idea, a method, or a skill across many scenarios. In other words, our students are the practitioners!
Practice does not have to be boring. There are many methods (see picture below) that can be used to reach “expert” status but the key to this entire presentation was that students would be working on a goal of their own choice and moving from novice, to practitioner, to expert. What wonderful language to put into the mouths of students . . . How motivating and empowering!!!
Caution: These are not stages to be RACED through. They will take time to develop. Students in charge of their own assessment of these stages will definitely be students who know exactly what skills and strategies that they do have in their repertoire.
Be the Force! Help students
- Take on their own learning
- Take on their own change
- Cultivate a growth habit of mind
- See each other as experts
Tools: Checklists, rubrics, progressions, charts from mini-lessons. However, a new look . . . Bookmarks with 3 or 4 choices. Students marked the choice that they were using with a paperclip. Clearly visible!!!! AWESOME!
And then a final reminder .. . .
You’ve met your goal. Now what?
- Maintain your skills
- Teach others
- Get critical
- Set new goals
It was the first time for me to hear #TCRWP Staff Developers Valerie, Marjorie, Ryan, and Amy and I’m definitely looking forward to learning from them during future opportunities!!!
2. Responsible and Responsive Reading: Understanding How to Nurture Skill and Will
Kylene Beers, Teri Lesene, Donalyn Miller, Robert Probst
Of course this was a popular session so I was willing to sit on the floor (don’t tell the fire marshal) because I wanted to be able to be up front and see!
Donalyn’s presentation is here for you to review at your leisure. A very powerful activity included these questions: “What books and reading experiences would form your reading autobiography?” Donalyn explained that: What matters is WHY you chose the book? Insights from these responses lead to deep conversations with students. Convos for Ss
Teri Lesene’s presentation is here. This fact was startling to me! Obviously I need to read more than a book a week!
Kylene Beers and Bob Probst shared a great deal of information about nonfiction reading that has come from the process of writing their new book. This slide is something I want to remember. . . “when I have answers I need to question”.
And this one on the importance of reading.
3. Finding Their Way: Using Learning Tools to Push Rigor, Increase Independence and Encourage Learning in Your Classroom
TCRWP Staff Developers: Mike Ochs, Kate Roberts, Maggie Beattie Roberts
Maggie began this session with many great connections. “We haven’t seen teachers work harder than they currently are, YET sometimes students aren’t working so hard! ” Tools can help students buy into learning. Tools, in our daily life, extend our reach, meet our needs, help us tackle big problems and personally get better! Tools connect, access, build community . . . should change over time!
- Rigor and motivation
- Memory . . . Why don’t we remember things? (short and long term memory) “I’ve taught this 1000 times. I know they learned this!”
“A great coach never achieves greatness for himself or his team by working to make all his players alike.” Tomlinson
And then a typical problem from narrative writing. . . How to stretch out a frozen moment. Kate created a demo page in front of us and told us it was, “Messy!” Lean on a menu of ways, decide the color scheme, and title.
Another tool might be a Micro-Progression. It provides a clear description of behaviors that are expected so students will know where they stand. Middle level is good. Students don’t always have to think they should be at the top level of performance.
Bookmark – 5 or 6 most important things for students to work on. Let students create this for themselves. They can be different!
Mike – Framework for creating tools adapted from The Unstoppable Writing Teacher with a shout out to Colleen Cruz.
Do not plan to use a tool forever. Have a plan to remove the tools. Some tools we will always need (the hammer), some we want to go away/become automatic (steps to hammer a nail) Some tools become references, set aside until needed. Sometimes need an additional/alternate tool. Most writing tools are not designed to be used indefinitely.
Kate: “You find yourself getting as smart as the toolmakers as you use the ‘tools of others’ and you get better as teacher! You don’t want to teach without a sidekick. Your tools can be a sidekick.”
News : Spring 2016 a book from Kate and Maggie!!!! SO EXCITED!
4. Transforming Informational Writing: Merging Content and Craft
Seymour Simon, Kelly Boswell, Linda Hoyt
I think I know this boy!
Seymour’s part was actually titled: Celebrating the Wonder in Nonfiction Storytelling. He began with a discussion of what nonfiction really means. If nonfiction is really “not true” than fiction should be “not real”. There is something about the use of “non” that marginalizes the texts that are labeled nonfiction. After all, who takes anything with “non” in the title seriously?
Not much difference between teaching F and NF. . .
- Who am I?
- What am I?
- What about me?
Mystery, wonder, poem, the universe!
Seymour read aloud many great fiction and nonfiction pairings. One of my favorite pairings was:
Kelly: How Mentors and Modeling Elevate Informational Writing
Mentor texts plus teacher modeling equals quality student writing. When teaching writing, FOCUS! If the target lesson is about leaving spaces between words, only teach “leaving spaces between words.” Don’t teach everything in the world of writing.
Kelly’s example for the text went “something” like this as an example of what NOT to do! “Class, we are going to work on leaving spaces between words today as we write. What does a sentence begin with? Good! Yes, a capital letter. (writes The) Our next word is ‘butterfly’. Let’s clap the syllables in butterfly. How many? Yes, three. What sound does it begin with?”
If the focus is “leaving spaces between words” – that’s the teacher talk!
On mentors and models – read the book once to enjoy, then mine for craft. Use a favorite book over and over and don’t forget to use it for conventions! Here’s an example from Hank the Cowdog.
- Create a culture of Curiosity.
- Provide time for students to ask questions
- Immerse learners in fascinating informational topics and sources
- Focus on content and craft in the writing they see, hear, and produce
- “Float the learning on a sea of talk.” – James Britton
- Teach research strategies
- Teach visual literacy – First grade writing example
8. Writers Workshop Every Day
9. Make sure learners are writing all day long. Write to remember. Write to question. Write to think. Write to express yourself. Write to share your learning. In every subject area.
10. Write Using Elements from Real World Informational Texts (lists, emails, letters, notes, newsletters)
Involving Students Take Aways:
Students can set real goals and self-assess their progress toward their goals.
Students are motivated when they have control and real choices in their work.
Models and tools aid students in moving through a cycle of novice to practitioner to expert.
What are your thoughts about involving students at this point?
This summer is a FEAST of professional development for me. I had the great fortune of being accepted for two weeks of learning at TCRWP for Writing and Reading Institutes. (You can check out my public learning log under the “Recent Posts” at the right.) Next weekend I will be in St. Louis for ILA.
How are you preparing for your learning?
What information do you need to KNOW before you look at specific sessions?
Do you look for specific PEOPLE?
Do you look for specific TOPICS?
Here’s the link to the 16 page preview guide pictured above.
I used the search tool to create a DRAFT LIST of those I know that I MUST see.
Chris Lehman – Sunday, Writing from Sources is more than. . .”The Text Says”
Jennifer Serravello – Sunday, Accountability, Agency, and Increased Achievement in Independent Reading
Nell Duke – Saturday, A Project-Based Place
Lester Laminack, Linda Rief, and Kate Messner – Saturday, The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Text to Teach the Craft of Writing
Penny Kittle and Donalyn Miller – Sunday, Complex, Rigorous and Social: Fostering Readerly Lives
and then added in others previously marked in the program:
Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan – They are authors of the book Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Reader Behind the Numbers.
Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry-Paul – Preconference Institute – Friday, Reading with Rigor: Interpreting Complex Text Using Annotation and Close Reading Strategies
Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins – They are the authors of Reading Wellness. Check out a bit of their work here.
Kylene Beers and Bob Probst – Notice and Note and Nonfiction version to be out in October.
Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey – Many, many ELA texts involving Gradual Release of Responsibility
Other faves that I hope to see at ILA15 include: Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse – What Readers Really Do; Dr. Mary Howard – Good to Great; and ANY and ALL TCRWP folks!
Any Two Writing Teacher Slicers? – please say hello in person!
Any #G2Great chatters?
Any #TCRWP afficionados?
I’m ready to rename ILA15 as “Gateway to the STARS!” as I look at this line up of literacy greats. What great learning opportunities and I’m still at the pre-planning stage. (Maybe I will find Hermione’s secret so that I can be in at least two locations at the same time!)
Who would you add to this list?
What are your summer reading plans?
Do you have a stack of books to be read? A reading group that will meet? Regular trips to the library?
Why do you read in the summer?
I’m currently revisiting multiple books and chapters on “mentor texts”. I’m not reading straight through. I’m looking for specific details to flag and reread AGAIN at a later date. Reading for fun is off the list as the school year winds down and I prep for summer classes. My reading doesn’t stop. But I find that my reading shifts and there is a surge in my “Reading to Locate Information” habit that overpowers my “Reading for Fun” habit.
What do your reading habits look like? Do they change in the summer time? Do you make time for leisurely reading? How do we explain our “habits” to our students? Does all reading have to be “serious reading”?
Why should students read at home?
I’m sure that many of you are familiar with this graphic.
But what about this one that Donalyn Miller posted on Twitter this week?
The title of the graph is “Low Income Students Fall 2.5 to 3 Years Behind by Grade 5”. The yellow line shows the cumulative growth of low income students vs. the blue line for middle class students. Similar data can be found in this John Hopkins article, “Why Summer Learning Deserves a Front-Row Seat in the Education Reform Era”.
What should we do?
Richard Allington says that 80% of the summer reading loss is tied to income. That’s an astonishing fact that does seem to be supported by the graph above. His data from sending 10 books home for students in Florida emphasizes the importance of students reading ALL.YEAR.LONG! For more ideas about summer reading programs check out his book.
Additional resources from Richard Allington can be found on his website here.
Why is it important for students to continue to read in the summer? (Not necessarily assigned book lists- but choice in reading!)
How can we encourage reading ALL.Year.Long?
How do students become habitual readers?
Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place to share our work. So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!
(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!) Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge: Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna and Beth. More Slice of Life posts can be found at Two Writing Teachers .
I LOVE to read. I LOVE reading. I typically READ just about anything. Reading is my preferred activity over cooking, cleaning, or crafting. I could be considered a voracious reader by some. I read quickly when I am reading for fun. I will read almost anything but I do not like vampires, fantasy or science fiction very much. When I find an author that I like, I devour ALL their texts. When I find something I really like, I may reread it. There are times during the year when my reading life seems to suffer. While writing blog posts every day, I do have less reading time. Is it “okay” that my reading seems to have an ebb and flow? How much should I be reading? What should I be reading?
I believe that I need to be familiar with authors and texts in the field of literacy. I have my favorite authors and this year they all deal with loving literacy: Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts, Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle, Kylene Beers, Dorothy Barnhouse and Vickie Vinton, Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher, and all the authors of the fabulous Units of Study in Writing from Teachers College. My reading of YA varies according to the favorites of students in the buildings where I work.
How does reading play out for our students? How much should they be reading?
In Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller challenges her middle school students to read 40 books per year. That is basically one book per week, including reading over holidays and school breaks. A student who has developed those “reading habits” is likely to be successful as they move through life. In Reading in the Wild, Donalyn is more specific about the “habits” that students need in order to be life-long readers. Those numbers seem to make sense because a student will “be in the story” and stay connected to the text in those time frames.
For our struggling Middle School and High School students in Second Chance for Reading, I have suggested teachers set 30 books per year as the goal for students. If teachers have expectations and are carefully monitoring student work, 30 books is ambitious for students who have been less than successful in reading for years. It’s doable, a stretch but yet highly possible if the habit of reading becomes a part of a daily routine.
But is that “good enough” for our children? How long to read a book?
I was following the Twitter stream from the Saturday reunion at Columbia’s Teachers College and several tweets caught my eye. Exactly what books should students be reading and for how long?
So taking Hatchet and spending a week and a half on it would fit with Donalyn Miller’s goal of 40 books per year. Is this happening? Are students allowed to read a book like Hatchet in a week and a half? I believe this also fits with the belief behind CCSS Reading Anchor #10: “Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently. Yet, it seems like I should be doing more in order to have teachers and students consider the “sheer volume” of what they are reading.
Are there books that should be “whole class” books in grades 3-6? If yes, what would be the characteristics of such a book? And how “many” of these would a child read during any given year?
I remember working on Language arts curriculum 20 years ago when teachers wanted certain books to be on a “protected list” so teachers in grade 3 would not use a book reserved for grade 4 because then it could not be used for prediction. But what is the real goal of a “class book”? If it truly is to have all students explore specific texts, will the class read at the same pace? Is it about the “activities” that accompany the book and its reading? What about a book club approach?
This tweet of a quote from Kelly Gallagher caught my eye:
So Kelly would agree with Donalyn Miller that students should not be spending forever on a class book. Dragging a novel out into 9 weeks’ worth of work turns it into a “9 week worksheet”! That belief has also been espoused by Richard Allington who has said that students need to read “more” in order to be better readers!
Are there some books that every fourth grade student should read? That would be a great source of conversation for a team of fourth grade teachers. What literature is that important and that interesting for the students? The same question would apply for informational text, poetry and drama. Those decisions can and should be made at a local level. The caution would be in “not allowing” a whole class text to be the only reading at the time and also not to be drug out as Gallagher’s quote reminds us.
How much should a student read every day?
The original source of this quote is not listed but think about this for a minute. To stay on the same level (maintenance), a student needs to read just right books for an hour each day and a common expectation in about 3/4 of a page per minute. So a quick check by a teacher 5 minutes into a silent sustained reading time would suggest that all students had read at least 3 pages. If a reading log/goal setting page includes the page started, a teacher could quickly move about the room conducting a visual scan. This would be data that could allow the teacher to form groups to discuss goals and purposes for reading.
The goal would not be public humiliation. I have used “bribes” for reading – pizzas, food, parties, etc. in order to encourage students to read more. Sometimes the food begins as the “reason/purpose” for reading until a student becomes “hooked” on reading and then begins to ask for books for gifts! Students do not need to take quizes to show their understanding of books. Carefully remove barriers or practices that are “counter-productive” to reading MORE! Consider how you can help your students be daily readers who will carry that habit over into the summer even when you, the teacher, are not around!
How much are your students reading? How do you encourage them to set HIGH expectations for their own reading?
Our Twitter chat celebrating Falling in Love with Close Reading on November 11, 2013 was fabulous, and I must thank co-moderators Allison Jackson and Laura Komos (@azajacks @laurakomos) for their question development, organization, tweeting in advance, and storifying the chat afterwords. Of course, Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts (@ichrislehman @teachkate) brought a crowd to the chat with their participation. My sincerest thanks to ALL participants and readers because deep understanding is necessary in order to ensure that ALL of our students can read, do read and YES, love to read!
The last few months have been a personal quest for knowledge about close reading. I read Tim Shanahan’s blog regularly (although I don’t always agree) and I began with his model for close reading with his “three step process” outlined here. However, I felt this process was stiff, clunky, and was confusing to students who began to say, “Do we really have to read this three times? Just give me all the questions now!”
I had to admit that process was not working in my own reading. Sometimes two reads were sufficient while at other times, it seemed like 10 reads was just beginning to scrape the surface for the “right meaning.”
I loved Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s view of close reading in Text Complexity, Raising Rigor in Reading when they shared that close reading should come in texts of varying lengths and was not a daily diet requirement as referenced here. And then the signposts from Notice and Note (Kylene Beers and Bob Probst) were next to receive my scrutiny as a book chat and facebook page sprang up! The language of the signposts made so much sense to students and teachers across the country, and one more entry point into “close reading” was revealed!
In June/July 2013, I attended both the Writing Institute and the Reading Institute at Teachers College in New York City. I learned what I had feared – that I really had not yet understood the impact and the grade level standards for the Common Core State Standards (and, yes, I was a “hick from the sticks”). The demonstrations at #tcrwp convinced me that I had not yet begun to grasp the possibilities for depth and scope in “close reading.” Each demonstration was different as the definition of text broadened. Mary Ehrenworth brilliantly provided a “mini-PD format” for Close Reading, for use in our own buildings, that included a poem and two song videos. Kate Roberts passionately used video and text to illustrate the necessity of close reading for point of view in nonfiction text and I was captivated. When the pending publication of Falling in Love with Close Reading was announced at the June Writing Institute, I immediately pre-ordered it.
And then September arrived and Chris and Kate began the Close Reading Blog-a-thon where Chris unveiled this definition which again stretched my understanding:
“Close reading is when a reader independently stops at moments in a text (or media or life) to reread and observe the choices an author has made. He or she reflects on those observations to reach for new understandings that can color the way the rest of the book is read (or song heard or life lived) and thought about.” Sept. 2, 2013
My learning journey continued as I read brilliant posts that added to the collective blog-a-thon and my understanding and I did sigh in relief a couple of times when I discovered that I was not “way off base” in my thinking. What was so monumental? That one word – “independently” was a showstopper! Up until that point, I had wrestled with how to move to deeper understanding with wisdom from Vicki Vinton and my mates at #WRRDchat (What Readers Really Do by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton). The simplicity of “Know / Wonder” charts and looking for patterns has stayed with me as I work with students and teachers to build independence in understanding what readers and writers really do.
And then the book arrived. From Donalyn Miller’s first words about The Velveteen Rabbit in the Foreword to the closing pages of the Resources, this book is dedicated to “falling in love.” It is not just about “reading at school” but is truly a ritual for reading life.
I immediately began to tweet out some of my favorite quotes as I quickly discovered that the three part ritual described by Kate in June was at the heart of the entire book. Close Reading is not about interrogating students with text dependent questions although it is about the “Five Corners of Text.” That ritual is simply and elegantly:
- Read through lenses
- Use lenses to find patterns
- Use the patterns to develop a new understanding of the text
In love with the book, twitter conversations began. @laurakomos proposed a chat and we were asking the authors to set a date to chat with their readers. Documents were created and blog posts announced the chat.
Our Twitter Chat was a fun hour + with laughs (jinxed comments), gnashing of teeth (at some policies) and a whole lot of love, passion, respect and celebration of the close reading rituals that Chris and Kate propose in Falling in Love with Close Reading – Lessons for Analyzing Texts – and Life. You can check out the archive here.
Nurturing this love of close reading is going to be important if it really is going to be built on student independence. Teachers will need to consider and balance: types of texts read by the teacher, types of texts read by the students, complexity of student thinking, complexity of texts students are reading independently, balancing genres, balancing levels of challenge and length of texts. Careful thought and planning will be required in order to meet this goal from the book:
“Equally, move freely between analyzing texts, media and life.” (p. 124) The dream is for student independence and where you lead (especially by modeling), the students will follow for the rest of their lives!
Thanks, Chris and Kate, for such powerful learning and for sharing your ritual with your readers so students may grow in independence as they close read their minutes, hours, days, and lives!