Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wanting to be a Wild Reader

This summer I decided to stretch a bit in  my professional life so I joined #cyberpd, reading Donalyn Miller's book: Reading in the Wild.  The online book club challenged me to read the book and then write a post for three consecutive weeks about the specific chapters of the book. I thoroughly loved reading the thoughts from other professionals and reviewing the points of the text that I might have missed. 
Last night we ended our time together with a twitter chat hosted by the cyberpd organizers (Michelle Nero, Laura Komos, and Cathy Mere) and the author Donalyn Miller.  The chat was quick and lively and filled with challenging questions and wonderful responses to those questions.  I was actively tweeting until the last question: Share a book you read this summer that you can't WAIT to share w/students! Suddenly I realized that while I read lots of summer time fun reads and many professional books, I had not read one single children's book. I was frozen thinking what kind of mentoring could I do this school year if I didn't read any new children's literature? I felt a quick sense of embarrassment realizing that I wasn't that diversified in my summertime reading. I am not being too harsh on myself, it was just a realization that I need to be reading all sorts of books, but especially those that I can share with the children I serve. Lesson learned - thank you Donalyn and company!

So I end my post today reflecting on the question I ask the teachers at the end of any PD that I plan: What is one thing you will change as a result of this PD?  My answer today is, I want to change my reading habits to be a wild reader of many differing genre, and wanting to be a wild reader is the first step to being one!  Wish me luck. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Holding up a Mirror

CyberPD Part 3: Reading in the Wild


As I read through chapter 5 and the accompanying appendix, I realized I needed to look long and hard at my own reading habits before I thought about instilling any reading habits in others. When I read over Form C.2,  I was left with questions such as: Do I make a reading plan? How do I choose books? Do I stick to certain genres?  Below are my thoughts on these questions as well as a few ideas on ways I can instill these habits in my primary students.

Preferences
What gaps do I have in my reading?  My reading preferences change with the seasons.  In the summer time I enjoy escaping with realistic fiction.  In recent years I have also begun to enjoy some historical fiction.  I read lots of professional articles and books year round, but I noticed that during the school year I tend to read shorter pieces and don't try to tackle an entire book. Rarely do I read nonfiction.  This makes me realize I need to expand my genres in reading as well as think about trying to diversify during the school year.  I will find the time to foster this habit.
What will I do in the classroom to insure a variety of genre are read in a classroom? One year I kept a chart noting the titles of all the books we read as a first grade class.  We even color coded the books as I introduced a new genre.  After reading a book we would guess the genre and add our color coded dot.  At the end of the year we had our list of 200+ books read and we were all pleased as we reviewed and reminisced about our book list and our favorite titles.  As I read over this chapter I realized that this sounds like a great practice to try again.  Listing titles read as a class can be used to model variety as well as introduce the various types of genre to my primary students. We could then graph the genre as we read them, much like Donalyn does with her older students. (see form A.1)

Commitment & Selection
What is the student's plan for future reading? and How do I select books?  These related questions made me think that I rarely have a plan for my reading, short of stacking books next to my desk all year long in the hopes of reading them in the summer.  My summer reading is typically based on friend recommendations.  Last year I excitedly created a Goodreads account and thought about following a few key people to give me ideas for books, but that got left by the wayside.  Reading Donayn's book remanded me about my account and gave me renewed excitement to try it out again. While visiting a friend recently, I was given a list of great book ideas but I had no pen with me.  Having Goodreads to note my ideas on my phone app was just the ticket to recalling the titles when I needed them.  I had the beginnings of a plan for my summer reading and it felt good when I finished one book to be able to jump right in to the next page turner. 
How can I foster greater commitment and selection in the classroom?  Since I had such success with the use of social media for my personal reading, shouldn't I try this in a classroom?  Could I connect with other primary classrooms to see what they are reading, maybe a take off on the idea of:  It's Monday: What are You Reading?  and share a few posts with the class by projecting the site on the board and getting children excited about a variety of books to read next.  Maybe I also need to create a Goodreads shelf for the classroom?  

The readings this week seem to have left me with more ideas to ponder, but I believe that's what a good book does, causes one to ponder.

Thank you Donalyn for a fabulous book, and thank you to  Cathy MereLaura Komos, and Michelle Nero for hosting #cyberpd 2014.



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Model, Model, Model

#cyberpd ~ Reading in the Wild - Part 2:  Model, Model, Model

Once again I am posting in response to Donalyn Miller's book: Reading in the Wild as part of the #cyberpd 2014.  


cyber pd

This week as I read chapters 3 and 4,  I was struck with the importance that modeling reading plays in our schools. As an instructional coach in a primary school my modeling will be different than that of a classroom teacher.  However, after reading these chapters I realize I have just as an important role in sharing and modeling as a classroom teacher does.  With that said, here are a few ideas I want to put into place in my building next year to help bring about wild readers.

"The most effective reading teachers are teachers who read" and " We must show our students what a wild reader looks like through our examples"  are two quotes that guided my thinking about what I can do as an instructional coach to foster this wild reading in our staff.  SO I propose that this year I attempt to accomplish the following:

  • Create a reading door in my office: I will post pictures of books that I read over the summer both professional and personal and continue to add to the door as the year goes on.  I might even think about posting a quote or two from each book.
  • Create a welcome to our school poster - with a picture of each staff member holding a children's book that they plan on reading on the first day.  This display has three purposes: 
    • introduces our staff to community members that walk in our building
    • sends a strong message of literacy in our building
    • gives parents book ideas
  
"Educating parents about the importance of daily reading, increasing book access through libraries and book ownership, and promoting the value of reading aloud must take prominence in our parent outreach programs."  As the instructional coach, another aspect of my role is to help educate our parents on the importance of reading at home.  I have already scheduled two parent nights and one read aloud night for next year, but can I do more? After reading these pages, I believe I need to beef up my website with suggestions and tips for reading aloud as well as give more appropriate suggestions for titles.  When parents hear us asking them to read for 30 minutes daily, I should be stating that those 30 minutes can come in little pieces. Suggestions can be made to tuck book baskets in the car, borrow books on tape/CD for car rides, and download a few kids books to their kindle or phones to read while waiting for the doctor or practice to begin.  Reading can and should happen anywhere.

Finally, I realized through reading these pages and the related posts on #cyberpd, that I am such a social reader.  I need a listening ear once I finish a book.  Are other teachers and children like this?  With this thought in mind, I would like to suggest a book club in our school for professional  or related books.  This would go a long way in modeling for our students that we are wild readers and we want you, our students, to become wild readers too!




Friday, July 11, 2014

Learning from reflecting

I consider myself a fairly reflective person.  Thinking about my actions and reactions on a continual basis helps me to move forward with fresh insight.  But I was challenged with my reflective practice as I read the Donalyn Miller book: Reading in the Wild, and participate in my first ever #cyberpd.  This week we were asked to read and comment on chapter 1 and 2.  I tagged the quote by John Dewey: "We do not learn from experience...we learn from reflecting on experience". Donalyn's words in the section challenged me to not only reflect on my reading life, which I regularly do, but more importantly to share my reflections with others, particularly our students.  This was a new insight that has lots of possibilities for the children and teachers I work with on a regular basis. Thinking about discussing how I choose books, why I abandon books and even do I abandon books with others will be refreshing and an eye opening experience.  I believe this new way of sharing my reflective practice will open many doors as I strive to model being a wild reader!