It's book club time!
I have been wanting to read Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer for a while. I really don't have excuses; the book has been out for 5 years.
But now is the time. Time to seize the day and seize the book.
We are keeping me accountable.
The deal is a chapter a week - posted on Mondays. Manageable.
chapter 1: There and Back Again
A book by a self avowed book nerd. I already love it.
Book nerds tend to be very passionate - maybe over passionate - about their love of books and reading. We all know the book nerd (or maybe are the book nerd) who insists that we just have to read a certain book. Because it's wonderful. I know you will love it. It will change your life.
Teacher book nerds are at risk of taking that over-passion into the classroom. Miller found that it didn't work. Her well thought out, creative lesson planning did not result in students who delighted in reading and devoured books.
She discovered that the secret is in the letting go. Not in the multi-level comprehension questions. Not in the down to the detail response to reading assignments. Not even in the uber cool art extension activities. But in the letting go of the power and control.
Classroom as reading workshop. I like it.
But, what does that look like?
Miller lists 5 components: time, choice, response, community and structure.
But what does that look like? And what does the teacher do?
In my kindergarten class, it means that kids read books of their choosing every day. My job is to make sure that our reading time is pretty close to sacrosanct. It is not to be whittled away by other curricular demands. And that we have books in our classroom. Lots of books. Quality books. Fiction and non-fiction. A variety of reading levels. Attractively presented.
It is expected that the children respond to the books that they read in a natural way. They talk about the books they read. They retell stories with flannel board pieces or with a pocket chart. They incorporate stories that they read into their play. They compare books by the same author -- Which Pete the Cat book is best. Sometimes, they even do yoga.
My job is to nurture a community of readers. A community that includes everyone in our room. A community that helps each other. A community that values everyone's abilities and thoughts. A community that has shared experiences around books. A community that refers to books for information. A community that delights in the reading experience.
A community that builds a structure of routines and procedures that help both the students and the teachers.
A "reading workshop" needs a "master reader". As the teacher, that would be me.
A master models for her apprentices, encourages them, explains the craft to them, shows them how to improve their skills, and hopes to be part of the creation of new master craftsmen.
My students need to see me reading. Reading for myself and reading aloud. They need to hear me read with expression - with silly voices. They need to know that I read at home as well as at school. They need to hear me talking about my reading. Saying my thoughts out loud. They need to see me use books to learn new information. They need to see me learn new and interesting things from books. They need to see me laugh with delight, or from the belly, because of a book that I am/we are reading. They need to hear me talk about how reading a book makes me see things in a new way and stretches my thinking. Maybe even changes my thinking.
They need to see
Part of the master reader's responsibility is to present reading material in an accessible and inviting way. Many teachers sort books into bins by theme or author. I don't have a lovely set of book bin labels to give you, but other teachers do.
I am looking forward to learning from and learning with these awesome bloggers from my beautiful province of British Columbia, Canada.