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Life's been a little crazy this week so I haven't had much time to read or write (ie: As I type, there are 20 men replacing our roof which was damaged in a recent hail storm.... and my littlest guy is sleeping through it! Hallelujah!). Even though things are little nutty, I wanted to take time to share some high-lights from The Book Whisperer: Chapter 4 because it is good info! To keep things simple, I created a Top Ten list to touch on some of the essential points in the chapter. (FYI... I often talk to books as I read them. It helps me process and remember what I am reading... thus the italics after each point)
So here they are... Chapter 4's Top Ten... all good points, but not listed in order of importance!
1) Get honest with your students about why they read (or don't read). I have to think about how I can incorporate this into beginning of the year conversations with my students. Because they are young, my students not be able to articulate a solid answer beyond, "I just don't like it." I have to think on this a little more! (Suggestions welcome!)
2) A reader in the "real world" reserves certain rights when they read. Such as: the right to skip pages, the right to reread, the right not to finish, the right not to read, the right to enjoy what they read, and so forth. Check out the list on the poster above. Honestly, I really have a hard time telling the 7 and 8 year olds in my classroom they have the right "not to read". In the real world, yes. But in Mrs. Chandlerland... not so much! So at the bottom of this post I have included a modified version of The Rights of a Reader. You are welcome to a copy of either poster or both.
3) Students will read 40 books a year! Because I am a big fan of high expectations, I am totally good with this. Because I teach primary children, I am still pondering whether I will modify the number down to 30 or allow a balance of picture books and easy chapter books to complete the requirement.
4) Realize that not all students will reach the goal, but keeping expectations high ensure they will reach farther than they would have with a lofty target at which to aim. Yes!
6) The teacher shares "read-aloud" literature daily and students have voice in which novels the class will read together. I love "read-aloud" time. It is a chance for kids to think about and use their imagination to construct a story... a very necessary skill for developing readers. Their image filled lives rarely require them to construct an internal visual image which they hold and bend as a story unfolds. In this way, literature read-aloud accomplishes a very important task. I usually cover about four "read-alouds" per year. I think I will have to raise the bar in this area!
7) Studying genre characteristics help students identify the types of literature they are reading and the story elements which are inherent to the various types of genre. Again, this feeds into my belief that things need to be taught in a holistic fashion. Showing kids how different genres are present in the books they read helps to strengthen their current understanding and future use of genre in literature and writing.
8) We need to pay attention to the cultural trends and issues that interest our students and allow for some of their personal reading choices to embrace these topics... with the caveat that the material chose is an age appropriate reading choice. I must confess this is an are in which it is difficult for me to release control. I love when kids take initiative and begin to read books from home, the local library, and so forth. But, often times they choose books with little literary value. I have a hard time letting them walk the road of discovery to "higher quality books". I often defer to a strategy of creating a large menu of good (book) choices from which to pick. This is a hard one... I will have to think a bit more on how to create better blend of structure/guidance and student choice opportunities?
9) Students keep a reading notebook to plan their reading experiences, log their progress, and dialogue about books they are reading. I am excited about this... I have already picked up the reading notebooks and am in process of creating labels, instructions, and section headers for them! Woo Hoo!
10) Conference with students regularly to ensure students are happily engaged in their reading assignments and assist in and guide their continued progress. I am really excited about this, too! The current plan to ensure uninterrupted student conferences is to teach my students The Daily Five. I have always trained my students to work independently from the very beginning of the school year. The independent work (called Workshop Work in our room) has always included journal writing, word work, and (unstructured) independent reading. I look forward to creating a engaging reading program which blends elements of self-selected reading with The Daily Five's reading to self, reading to someone, and listening to reading activities.
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