Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I did more teaching of the book than teaching of the reader. ~ Jennifer Serravallo (page 3)

After diving into Chapter 1 of my school's professional summer read, I found myself rereading this quote/section of the chapter several times. I also found myself thinking back to last year's professional read, Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller.  I kept wondering...if I believe that I am teaching the reader and not the book and want to provide authentic reading experiences for my students, where is the evidence of this going to be in my classroom?  Are the decisions that I am making in my reading workshop (about instruction and structure) happening for the right reasons?  Am I applying what I know about teaching reading, valuing my beliefs about how to teach reading, and using what I know about my students?  Am I putting all of that at the forefront of my instructional decisions?  That is a lot of wondering...especially during the first week of summer break!

Then came chapter two...my thoughts started working on ways to have students jot/write about reading (reader's notebooks), how to track the quantity and types of books that the students are reading (book logs), and how to use conferring to get at the heart of each student's reading behaviors (reading interest inventories).  Together, all of these ways are approaches that will help me gain information on the readers in my classroom and to value the reader for what they are...a reader, not a level.  I feel pushed to find a way to manage all of this information so that it is all valued, purposeful, and not neglected when making instructional decisions.

Here are some "thinking stems" after reading chapters 1 and 2 (some come from the text itself and some are from me):

  • What was your reading life like as a child?  How would you describe your reading life now?
  • What do you believe about reading and teaching reading?  What structures do you use in the classroom as evidence of that belief?
  • Think about a predictable structure during reading that you used last year.  Is it a component of a reading workshop model?  Is there any part of a reading workshop model that you are frustrated with, overwhelmed by, passionate about, or comfortable with?
  • How does your building communicate information about readers?  Do you communicate more than a level?  
  • Consider ways that your students jot/write about their reading, keep track of their reading and goal set.  What are some approaches you will use to also gain information on fluency, comprehension, and conversational thinking?
And these are just initial thoughts! Looking forward to the conversations to come and reading about how to engage the "unengaged" reader in chapter three!

PS...Some teachers in the group are reading Jennifer Serravallo's other text titled, Conferring with Readers: Supporting each student's growth and independence.  The questions above are my attempt at marrying the two books for the participants.

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