If I had to pick a quote to sum up this chapter, I think it would be... "Students must believe that they can read and that reading is worth learning how to do well" (pg 37).
As I think on this quote... two crystallizing thoughts come to mind. The first being "Yes! this is the synthesizing step that so many of my students need to experience!" The second is... "I agree... but the underpinnings of literacy development (concepts of print, phonological awareness, phonics, and fluency) must be addressed along with providing more independent reading opportunities for our students."
I realize my concern that these underpinnings of literacy development (a.k.a. The Five Essential Elements of Reading) be given adequate attention comes from working with primary age students (K-3) for a majority of my teaching career. Having experienced the Whole Language reading revolution of the late 80's and early 90's in American public education where all children were encouraged to learn to read by reading, and isolated literacy skills were not taught with much detail, I hold tightly to the belief that reading must be taught from whole to part and part to whole.
Simply reading in order to learn to read worked for quite a few of my students, so I embraced this approach to teaching reading for several years. It was enriching, engaging, and fun! I loved and the kids loved it... ( a win, win!) I noted that my kids enjoyed reading, considered themselves readers, and made some progress in terms of grade level standards, which was difficult to do because I taught in a high ELL (like 85%-90% of the class) population in a low SES community.
However, as academic standards became more rigid in the years that followed, I had to admit to myself that although my students read a lot and loved to read, they suffered in their understanding and application of sound phonics skills especially when having to decoding 3 and 4 syllable words, and they did not spell well... at all! This realization lead to a change in my approach to teaching reading. I began to provide direct instruction for phonemic awareness strategies and phonics skills in order to equip my students with adequate decoding and spelling abilities. I struggled in the years that followed to find an approach to teaching all literacy skills in addition to providing multiple opportunities for kids to truly engage in and own their personal reading development. It can be a difficult balance to strike in the classroom. After twenty years of teaching, I adjust my approach on a yearly basis to fit the learning needs of each class and each individual in the class.
Side note!... I loved the section on Student Surveys! I am in the process of pulling together a survey for my class this year. I am also becoming painfully aware that I need to build up my classroom library!
Okay, enough rambling... Now to the questions from Beth at Thinking of Teaching!
1) Would you start the year off with a book frenzy similar to Miller's or would you adapt it?
I am all about routines and structure for my kids, especially as we construct the learning environment together. Then again, I have no problem doing something silly to break up the monotony of the moment... or day! I think I will start the year off with a book frenzy, but I probably will give it some sort of structure.... like a genre based frenzy, or favorite author frenzy. I think I will align it with introducing The Daily 5 procedure I PICK Good-fit Books (See pg 30). By combining the two concepts I think I will be able to to ensure that my students are making wise book choices and yet have a level of autonomy that will foster engagement and ownership of their reading experiences.
2) What were your impressions of Miller's more positive descriptions of the three types of readers? I loved the description of the dormant readers and underground readers. I am interested to see how she will address their needs as I get further into the book. (Unfortunately, I have not read ahead... Two small children soak up most of my "read ahead" opportunities!)
3) 40 books!!! What do you think of that?? I love it! I am all about creating high expectations for kids. The thing I like most about challenging a student is the change in their self-concept that comes from reaching a lofty goal! That being said, I may shrink back to 30 in that first year when I I first introduce this challenge to my class. I want to be sure that my students have a strong understanding of how to choose books at their level from the start, so I may dedicate a significant amount of time to helping them develop that skill, before I lay out the reading goal for the year.
|Click the picture for a schedule!|
Chapter 3 coming soon!... There's a Time and a Place!