Monday, May 06, 2013

Final Interview with THE BOOK WHISPERER!

Hello Dear Friends, it's the last installment with Donalyn Miller, 
Don't forget to enter at this link to win a signed hardcover copy of my brand new book, WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME!  

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May 6, 2013
An Interview with Donalyn Miller, author of THE BOOK WHISPERER
Part IV

Click through to read parts one, two, and three.
I 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.)

It 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. 

As 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. 

Do 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?

Honestly, 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.

I 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. 

I 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!

Learn more about Donalyn and her book at 

 Black Stripes
Meet the Spellbinders
Caroline Starr Rose 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
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

Comfort Paperback Cover
speech-language pathologist.

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.
Take Me There Cover

She conducts teacher trainings on inspiring reluctant writers including "The Secret Language of Stories" and "Random Act of Haiku."

 Follow me on Twitter 

Kim Bio PhotoKimberley 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 Circle of Secretsas two more forthcoming novels in 2012 and 2013.
She 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.

Please visit her website to download free Teacher's Guides and Book Club Guides. 
Follow me on Twitter 

Upcoming Events

Caroline Starr Rose
April 19
New Mexico Library Association Youth Luncheon
Albuquerque, NM

July 27
19th Annual Norfolk Public Library Literature Festival,
Norfolk, NE


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