find your approach to standardized testing to be refreshing. Can you
explain how you discuss testing with your kids? (I won't ask how you
prepare them; that takes place in your room all year long.)
is February and I haven't talked to my students at all about our state
tests. My district conducts benchmark testing that mirrors the format of
our test, so I don't see the value in spending more days on it.
we near the time for the test, I will show my students sample questions
and evaluate how the test is formatted, but that is all. Tests are just another genre of reading with its own specific vocabulary, format, and purpose. That's all.
you think a lot of the "extras" that are attached to traditional
reading instruction come from fear, the worry that kids can't make
connections unless we spell it out for them or that reading without the
hoop jumping somehow isn't enough?
I think that a lot of what we ask kids to do are grade generators or
efforts to motivate kids to read because we think they won't if we don't
give them an assignment. We don't know how to effectively assess
students' mastery and growth, so we attach assignments to reading in
order to have some proof.
Can you tell us about the difference between managing and controlling -- both a classroom and students themselves?
Managing a classroom requires organization, planning, structure, and expertise. Controlling involves keeping most of the power.
I give a lot of my power over to the children. Does it matter to me
where they sit when they read? Does it matter to me if they organize
their notebook differently? Does it matter to me if they chat while they
are working? Does it matter to me if they want to sketch their rough
draft as a storyboard before writing an essay? No.
don't have complicated procedures for classroom routines, either. My
students take down chairs, take lunch count, shelve books, restock the
Kleenex, empty our pencil sharpener-all of it without asking. Whenever a
student mentions a needed job, we discuss it as a class, ask a
volunteer to do it, and we are done.
want my students to learn what life readers know: reading is its own
reward. Reading is a university course in life; it makes us smarter by
increasing our vocabulary and background knowledge of countless topics.
Reading allows us to travel to destinations that we will never
experience outside of the pages of a book. Reading is a way to find
friends who have the same problems we do and who can give advice on
solving those problems. Through reading, we can witness all that is
noble, beautiful, or horrifying about other human beings. From a book's
characters, we can learn how to conduct ourselves. And most of all,
reading is a communal act that connects you to other readers, comrades
who have traveled to the same remarkable places that you have and been
changed by them, too.
- Donalyn Miller, THE BOOK WHISPERER
Thank you so much for sharing your book and ideas with us, Donalyn!
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.
Carolee 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.