Friday, July 4, 2014

Reading in the Wild: Teaching Students to Love Reading

Sorry for being a day late!...the hubs and I are on vacation in San Diego (we are playing tourists in our hometown, which is always fun).  

If you have just stumbled upon this awesome Reading in the Wild book study blog post series, then definitely click over to HERE and HERE first so you can play a quick round of catch up.  I will be hosting next week's section alongside Lessons with Laughter, so you should come back for that special blog post too.  :-)

The further I get into Reading in the Wild, the more I am starting to like it over The Book Whisperer.  I love the way it fills in all the blanks that I was left to mull over and figure out!

"Read. Read anything. Read the things they say are good for you, and the things they claim are junk.  You'll find what you need to find. Just read."

- Neil Gaiman

I don't know about you, but I have figured out almost a perfect "formula" to choose books I end up loving or enjoying.  In fact, 4 out of 5 times, when I venture outside my little formula, I end up abandoning the book or rating very low on Goodreads.  But do our students know how to find the right way to choose books for themselves?  Nope!  We have to teach them and give them opportunities to do so.  That's what this chapter is all about.

Why should we as teachers teach students how to self-select reading material you ask?


I always tell other educators and noneducators that no matter what we are told to do as teachers from year-to-year, read-alouds will be the one thing I will stand firm on and NEVER stop doing!  In fact, it is my favorite part of the day.  We come in after lunch, sit on in our library/living room in the dark, with my Victorian lamp turned on, and read for about 15-25 minutes.  Being able to share books my students would not have access to or not think to try out is the BIGGEST reason I stick to it every single day. When do you do your read-aloud?  Donalyn shared she does hers for the last 10-15 minutes of the day.  I'd love to do it then because I can easily see my students being better at end-of-the-day transitioning.  It definitely gives me something to think about.

Selecting Read-Alouds

Donalyn provides several ways to select read-alouds to work in your classroom and I can say there are a couple I need to try.  Sure, I have my short list of go-tos that students have loved in the past and that I also enjoy.  I try to choose books that hit almost every genre  as well as switching between male and female major characters...this is because I realized one year I was unconsciously reading books that seemed to have girls as the protagonist every time.  But do I read nonfiction or poetry to my students? Nope!  This is something I need to work on for sure.

And I too am "guilty" of reading The Lightning Thief every year as well.  It is HUGELY successful with students every year and I don't notice a lag in it I continue to read it despite the chapters being too long to read in one regular sitting and the month and a half or so that it takes to get through it.  But Donalyn does recommend considering time constraints and book length when selecting books for I might leave behind one of our beloved read-alouds this year.

Also?  I don't know about you, but I am very strict with books I select.  I follow the same criteria I do when selecting my own books.  There are teachers on my campus who read books I would never recommend to others because they don't come with high reviews or they may be books that you wouldn't necessarily consider quality literature.  But the tips Donalyn gives will need to come into play as well.   What criteria do you follow in order to choose your read-alouds?

Guest Teachers

I had to crack up as I read this part of the tip list!  I HATE leaving our read-aloud book within reach of a guest teacher because I have stated not to read it in my plans every year since I started teaching and read the short book I leave behind.  But, it seems every single one of them do it anyway.  Grrrrrrrrr!!!  So, I have had to start hiding it before I leave for the day.  Two years ago, I think we were in the middle of The Lightning Thief.  I came back and found they had read a chapter.  My kids were distraught because they didn't understand any of the dialogue that happened in the story and were insanely bored by a chapter that past students have always enjoyed.  I asked why and they said...SHE DIDN'T USE YOUR VOICES!!!  It cracked me up and annoyed me at the same time, but I just went back and reread the chapter to them and they didn't mind one bit.

Creating Book Buzz

Book drawings are a HUGE deal in my classroom that I started doing after reading The Book Whisperer, so I was over the moon to read about how to do this in a more detailed way in Reading in the Wild.

The above book you see in the picture is one from a very popular series in my classroom year-to-year.  I read Among the Hidden every other year (City of Ember is in subsequent years), so when we finish the kids scramble over who gets to read the 2nd in the series.  I think I have 2 copies and thankfully, our school library has another 2-3 copies!  So, the drawing is super important to use in cases like this.  

A big idea I pulled from Donalyn's tips this time?  Only allow students to read drawing books for a week so other students don't have to wait so long.  I was not limiting the time these past couple years and will implement this in my classroom from now on.  

At the end of the year, we have a book poll to choose and vote on our favorite reads of the year.  I then display them on this Hawk's Choice board for the incoming class.  This is an idea that I got from Beth Newingham and adapted to fit my classroom.  We use a Google Form in order to gather the data quicker...and vote quicker as well.  This particular picture was from our awards 2 years ago.

Keeping Track of Your Reading Life

In the past, I have used Goodreads with my students.  But we no longer have access to student email accounts, so I don't really have a way of signing them up.  In my first book study post HERE, I mentioned I will be using Edmodo now.  But I still want a way for my students to keep track of their books in a way similar to Goodreads.  So, I really loved this section of Chapter 2!

Donalyn provides the form you see below in the Appendix.  I am definitely going to have my students keep these updated in their notebooks and also share their recommendation on Edmodo.  It will be a fantastic combo!!

How will you teach your students to love reading differently than in the past?

Come back next week!  I will be hosting Part 2 of Chapter 2 and can't wait to share how I curate my classroom library.  I'm sure I will learn new ways to improve it as well and I hope we can have a conversation back and forth about how you curate yours.  See you then!