In Donalyn Miller’s book, The Book Whisperer, she refers to books that take little mental strain to read as “mind candy.” Some days I look up and see a third grader, with a fifth grade reading level, reading Dr. Seuss and wonder if I should go over and have a discussion about “Just Right” books. Then I watch as he finishes and moves on to a complex text about Earth’s layers.
I have to remember that sometimes “mind candy” is perfectly appropriate. After all, didn’t I spend days reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series last summer? Although candy isn’t good for us all the time, it doesn’t hurt once in a while. And it is definitely enjoyable!
My grandma, Ma, is my hero. She is probably the best person I know or will ever know. I depend on her and she never lets me down. She has supported me through childhood, pregnancy at age eighteen, college and motherhood, teaching, and everything else that life throws my way.
Her patience is seemingly endless. Her house is always spotless. And, as my son says, “Ma cooks everything better.” When making a decision about anything I think: What would Ma do?
Last night I was at a wedding with a super fun photo booth and props, but instead of seeing it and thinking “fun props” what did I think? “LICE!”
After a huge lice outbreak earlier this year, that is what all of my fellow teachers were thinking as we watched person after person put the same hats and fuzzy headbands on their heads. When we went into the photo booth you can bet we only took glasses and other plastic props!
I am a co-teacher and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It can be a challenge for teachers who don’t see eye to eye, but I got lucky! My co-teacher is amazing! And we agree on most things and the kids benefit because of it.
She was absent one day and the next I went to pick up the kids in the morning while she stayed in the room. One boy asked if she was here. When I replied that she was, he said “Good, it is better with two teachers.”
Maybe I could have taken it as I wasn’t good enough, but I know that isn’t what he ment. I agree, it is better with two teachers. I could teach alone and get results, however together we can do even more. Students receive more attention, two teachers are pulling small groups, more needs are being met- socially and academically.
After today’s field trip without my other half, I know I can do it alone. (I came back with the same number of kids as I left with! SUCCESS! !) But I don’t want to because that student is right – IT IS BETTER WITH TWO TEACHERS!
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald
Yes, parents have a huge impact on their child’s view of reading and books. However, we can’t discount the impact teachers have on this as well. We want kids to read, but how many of us are avid readers? How can we expect children to follow rules if they see us breaking them? How can we expect them to read everyday if we are not doing the same? When we show students that we are readers, that books are fun, and that reading is not a punishment, a stronger message is sent home than just reading is important.
- AR – Books are not meant to just read and answer questions about. A ribbon once a month is a strong motivator to read books and test. Reading and testing doesn’t always go together and we need to show students that. In fact, I doubt that most authors write their books for the purpose of students reading them and then sitting in front of a computer and trying to remember what color the dog was.
- Endless worksheets with one right response. Would you want to do it?
KEEP or START
- Make books available! Put all kinds of books everywhere. Have an overflowing library at school. Keep bins of books in every room of the house – especially the bathroom!
- Read Aloud – Regardless of a reader’s age, listening to the right book is magical. In a classroom all students of all reading levels get to share the same experience. Students don’t have to worry about tests, questions from the teacher, etc. They just get to sit, listen, and enjoy. Many times a read aloud book can lead students to new books in a series or by the same author.
- Independent Reading with Choice – We know and research shows that students need to be actively reading in order to improve. However, this is not enough to get them to enjoy it. Students need to be given time to read books that they choose – books that are “just right” for them including interest level.
- Share your favorite books, current books you are reading, likes and gripes about books and authors. Students care!
We need to create a community of readers in our classrooms and our homes! What we do matters!
Is there one of us who is not haunted by the memory of a child we failed?
From The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
I know that as I grow as an educator, I realize how much I didn’t know just the year before. And as a result, I realize how many children I have failed. They may have left be better readers, but they also left without the love of reading.
I have always had the goal of making children life-long readers, but that is not the goal of districts that want high test scores. As a reading teacher, I serviced students who came to me in third grade already hating reading and far behind grade level. I was in a constant battle between what I felt was right and what I was expected to do in terms of curriculum and assessment. This year, with my district’s move toward reading workshop, I am finally doing what feels right. The student spend the majority of time READING books that they WANT TO READ! With modeling and guidance, students choose books they want to read and spend an average of an hour engaged in reading independently each day.
More and more students are realizing that reading and books are fun! We have not won over every student, but the year is not over yet!
I sit in a PD led by a very prominent author, seen as a guru by many in the field of teaching reading and writing. I am interested in the topic, I agree with her ideas, and yet I keep losing focus. (I’m writing this…) She tells us to turn and talk and then seconds later, “People, can I stop you?”
The first person gets to share, but then she stops us. I realize this is, at least in part, because of time. And then I wonder how many times in the last week I have stopped my students’ sharing because of time. I am getting a little agitated, so they must too.
I find the most significant part of going to a workshop is that I become the student. I am forced into my students’ shoes. Of course I am here by choice and they are stuck with me, like it or not. Each time I go to a PD I walk away more determined to pay attention to the needs of my students. Today I walk away with a renewed awareness of my students’ need to be heard.