I realize that I did not write a blog for Week 1 Ch. 1 & 2 of this year's #cyberPD, but I am remedying that with Week 2. I have thoroughly loved reading Donalyn Miller's book Reading in the Wild. The ideas keep flooding me as I read through the chapters and I often have to pause to place tabs in the book or to type notes/ideas in my ever growing Google Doc, and chapters 3 & 4 were no exception.
Chapter 3: Wild Readers Share Books and Reading with Other Readers
Ideas to Build a Reading Community
The best idea I am going to be borrowing from these two chapters is definitely the Reading Doors (pg 116-119). I got so excited about this idea as I was reading that I immediately contacted my principal, who is also read Reading in the Wild this summer, about making this a building wide endeavor.
In addition to the Reading Doors, our building and district has been taking extra steps (starting last year) to spread our reading community to the families of our students. We want to help parents and other community members understand the importance of reading. Chapter 3 reinforced what we have been working towards, while giving me many new ideas to share. Our district and building hosts family reading nights 3-4 times a year that provide reading activities and reinforcement for the students, while educating parents about the importance of reading, how to help their children, and what resources are available to them in the community/district. Every child walks away with a free book as well.
Our building has invested in webcams for all of our SmartBoards this year. We plan on using them at the beginning of the year to hold book discussions with classrooms from another elementary in our district that is 15 minutes from us. The principals of our buildings are working on bridging the distance gap between buildings in order to expand each buildings reading community. We will be reading and discussing the same book, which every family will get a free copy of in order to promote reading and discussion at home as well. This will be a great chance to show students the importance of connecting with others and how to do it through technology.
Other Thoughts from Ch. 3
I love when Donalyn Miller states on pg 100 that "Reading is ultimately a social act." How true! I can not imagine reading and never discussing it or never sharing what I have just experienced with others. I hope that all of my students will take part in the social act of reading at least while in my classroom and hopefully continue the practice into their adult lives. However, if this is to happen, I must not only show them during the confines of our classroom, but also within my own life of wild reading. I want to discuss with my students all of the reading interactions I have taken part in this summer and share with them the passion that I have rediscovered. I want to show them what I have done on GoodReads, Twitter, and now on my new blog. I want them to understand that as someone who is constantly learning, I too take part in educational discussions such as #cyberPD. I can only do these things by having an open and honest conversation with my students about our reading lives and looking carefully at the activities and assignments I give them. Are they showing my students what a wild reading life looks like or are they "busy work"?"We must consider whether school and classroom reading initiatives and assignments support students' development of wild reading habits or hinder them." (pg 139)
Chapter 4: Wild Readers Have Reading Plans
I must admit that this is probably the area in which my wild reading life has always been weakest. Although I have often had a couple books sitting on my nightstand in a to-be-read pile, I more often than not simply read one book straight through before starting another or thinking about what I will read next. In high school my preference leaned heavily towards all mysteries by Agatha Christie and my plan simply consisted of reading through all of her works, especially Hercule Poirot books. When I started college, my reading life became largely dormant and I read only a few small series now and then.
Since reinvigorating my wild reading life, I am excited to help my students do the same. My current goal is to read through all of the new books I received at the end of last year (about 25) before adding them to my shelves. I am also reading through many of my students' favorites that I've never read. I want my students to see that I care about what they like to read and that I am knowledgeable about these books too. If I am to teach my students to be wild readers with plans, then I must live that too.
One of my favorite ideas from chapter 4 is that students must slowly build stamina for reading goals. Donalyn Miller says that "For students struggling to finish books or commit to reading, setting small goals helps them achieve success quickly and rack up positive reading experiences, which feed more reading." (pg 144) How true! Runners don't immediately run successful 5K races when they've never been a runner before and students shouldn't be expected to go from learning to read to reading extensively and for prolonged periods. Stamina in any form must be built through practice and through small steps towards the goal. Read a little longer each day, and eventually they'll have the stamina to read the whole 30 minutes or to read all 300 pages. Try to push students who struggle to read through their plans or their committed readings and they may never gain a love of reading.
I am excited to see where the rest of 2014's summer #cyberPD takes me and what having my own blog will do for my learning and collaborating!