I joke that it sounds like beehive. We talk constantly about books and
writing. My students spend the first 30 minutes reading while I confer
with individual students about their reading and help students preview
and select books. After reading time, we talk with partners about our
reading experiences that day and I present a few book commercials about
new additions to the class library or books I think students will enjoy
based on what they are reading now, or books I think will stretch them.
reading time, I teach a lesson and students practice the skill or
strategy I have taught using a common text like an article, poem, or
short story for the first few encounters with this topic. As
often as possible, I ask students to apply what they have learned to
their independent reading, writing, or inquiry when they have mastered
the skill or strategy after whole group instruction.
write every day. Sometimes, we write about reading and sometimes we
develop essays or reports. We are currently engaged in an author study
about Seymour Simon. Students are reading several of his books,
exploring his website, and creating reports of information based on one
research topic. I am teaching lessons on sentence fluency, taking notes,
combing information from several sources, and organizing information
try to integrate reading and writing as much as possible, so some
students could be reading or writing during our daily work periods
depending on their individual progress and needs that day. I circulate and confer with children during these work periods.
After a work period, students share bits of their writing and solicit feedback from their peers. I facilitate these discussions.
During the last ten minutes of class, we gather for a read aloud. Right
now, we are reading WONDER by R.J. Palacio. We are keeping a running
list of Mr. Browne's precepts on the board and discussing the book and
its messages each day.
don't use the terms struggling or reluctant readers but instead
identify readers as developing, dormant, and underground. Could you
define for us what these readers are like and what they most need?
readers lack reading confidence, experience, or ability, but are
somewhere on the path toward developing reading self-efficacy. I prefer
this term to struggling readers because development implies progress and effort instead of failure.
readers possess the grade and age levels abilities expected from them
at school, but don't find reading personally meaningful beyond school
expectations. I find that most of my students are dormant readers. They haven't experienced enough pleasure or engagement with reading.
Underground readers are avid readers who live two reading lives--one at school and one outside of school.
These children are often avid readers who may underperform on school
reading assignments because they don't find them meaningful. They may
not fill out reading logs, participate in whole class discussions, or
complete reports, then excel on reading tests.
think there are other types of readers who don't express these marked
habits and abilities, but I chose to write about these types because
these the students that benefit most from free choice voluntary reading
and more classroom choice.
need to receive encouragement for the skills and knowledge they do have
and be allowed to make mistakes as they work toward mastery." What are
some "mistakes" you've seen kids afraid to make? How have you helped
liberate them from this fear?
Reading is hard because so much of it involves subjective interpretation. Kids who want to get it right struggle when I push them to determine their own meaning for a text.
They want me to tell them what it means. They want explicit answers to
every question. When we read shared texts, we look at the basic plot
events or main ideas first, then delve into the deeper meanings or
implications of a text. This assures everyone understands the universal
meaning or key points before exploring personal connections and
meanings. I think this values all of the learners in my class.
I also share my mistakes and misconceptions with students. They don't realize that even the most experienced readers and writers need to reread, revise, and mull over ideas.
principal sounds like a phenomenal person -- giving you the room to
teach reading this way, encouraging fellow teachers to examine
"classroom practices and institutional policies that are so entrenched
in school cultures" as to be ineffective, the afterward he wrote for
your book. How does someone who doesn't have the support you do go about
making effective changes in their classroom community?
is hard to teach in a culture that doesn't get what you are doing. I
keep Stephen Krashen's and Nancie Atwell's books on my shelf. I want colleagues, parents, and administrators to know that I have a research basis for what I am doing.
If anyone questions me about my methods, I refer to the research. You
can disagree with me all you want, I am just one person, but how can you
discount decades of research on our field? I cannot think of any
administrator who would tell a teacher to disregard research.
It helps to make a list of your core beliefs about teaching and learning and look at it often.
What do you believe is right for children? What do you believe is
important for them to learn? How is your daily instruction leading
students to a better life beyond school? It is easy to get bogged down
in the daily grind of school, and it helps to remember these long term
was not treated well by many of my colleagues when I first changed my
practices. It was hard. I sought out the teachers in my building who
were most progressive and open-minded (and our librarian), and I
developed collaborative relationships with them. I spent a lot of time
with my students, which helped me focus on them. My students' test
scores were good and I walked into school happy every day. My students
and their parents were happy, too. Eventually, people were curious. I
suggest that teachers implement as much as they can, document the
results and share it with administrators and colleagues. Talk about what
you are doing in your classroom and the positive results. Better to talk about what you are doing and not what you wish you could.
Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia
and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in
the other. She's taught English and social studies to upper elementary
and middle-school students in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and
Louisiana. Back in New Mexico, Caroline now writes middle-grade novels and picture books full time.
To find teacher's guides, writing activities, and information about author visits, go to her website, stop by her blog, or follow her on Twitter.
Dean has made numerous appearances as a guest poet/author at schools,
libraries, poetry events, and teacher/library conferences. She holds a
bachelor's degree in music therapy and a master's degree in
communicative disorders, and she has spent over a decade working in the
public schools as a
Her first novel, Comfort,was nominated as a Best Book
for Young Adults, was named the Best YA Novel of 2002 by the Texas
Institute of Letters, and was on the TAYSHAS (Texas Library Association)
reading list. Take Me There is a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
She conducts teacher trainings on inspiring reluctant writers
including "The Secret Language of Stories" and "Random Act of Haiku."
Griffiths Little is the recipient of the Southwest Book Award, The
Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010, and the author of the highly
acclaimed, The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets, published by Scholastic Press. Look for her books at the Scholastic Book Fairs, as well as two more forthcoming novels in 2012 and 2013.
lives on a dirt road in a small town by the Rio Grande with her
husband, a robotics engineer and their three sons. Kimberley is a
favorite speaker at schools around the country, presenting "The Creative
Diary", a highly successful writing workshop and has been a speaker at many conferences.