June 20, 2012

The Book Whisperer

I have finished The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller!  What a fast read!  Donalyn's thoughts and experiences flow together so smoothly that it only took me two days of reading to get through the book.  Not that this was a book to rush through - I have lots of underlining and post-it notes marking thoughts I appreciated or pages I want to revisit. 
I love that Donalyn's classroom is set up for reading because she knows that learning happens through reading.  So many of us get caught up trying to find the best classroom set-up for learning to happen and delegate a corner of the room or a bulletin board to 'reading' when really our focus should be flipped.  If the classroom is organized as an environment for reading, learning will be occurring!

Although I will have to tweak the ideas I have gathered from the pages of this book to meet the needs of my classroom and students, I am really thinking now about my classroom library set-up and the format I use for reading journals.  My 4th graders had reading journals last year that included their reading logs and space for them to write responses to me, but those journals, as sorry as I am to admit it, were one thing that just did not work during my first year of teaching.  My kids were not connected to their journals and I had a hard time keeping up with 23-27 response letters each week and then even every 2 weeks.  I'm hoping some of the ideas I have gathered from Donalyn combined with the book studies I will be doing yet this summer will help me develop a better strategy for Reading Journals.  Believe me, I know they are an important tool to help students track their reading and share their thinking - I know!  It broke my heart that they didn't work with my class last year and I am set on making improvements to that practice this coming school year.

I would recommend picking up Donalyn's book sometime this summer - it may just change your thinking about reading instruction in the classroom or provide a thought to help tweak a program that is already soaring.
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child [Book]

"The reality is that you cannot inspire others to do what you are not inspired to do yourself." - Donalyn Miller in The Book Whisperer

June 14, 2012

Back at it!

It seems the end of the school year swept me up and I've been away from blogging!  I finished my first year of teaching and shed a few tears watching my little one leave on the last day.  After a week of fishing up north, I'm ready to get back into the realm of education.

Throughout spring, my class worked on a service-learning project to reduce graffiti and other vandalism seen around our school and community.  I have lots to share about that project, including the literacy activities we did to kick-off our work, but I'm saving all of that story for a later date.  I collaborated on those lessons with two wonderful colleagues - Dr. Sarah Montgomery and Erica Christie.  Their support and ideas throughout the spring helped my students make global connections.  We just finished writing an article this morning that we submitted to Social Studies and the Young Learner based on our efforts this spring.  I am so thankful to both of them for their help during this process and excited about possibilities in the future!

My next project is to begin my summer reading.  I am so excited to get back into books without distractions!  My reading pile has been growing over the course of the year and I had a hard time picking out which book to start with!  I'm really focused on improving my literacy instruction for next year, especially my guided reading block.  To do this, I plan to implement Daily 5 and will be participating in a book study with other teachers during the month of July to dig through two texts and really consider how to make the ideas work for my classroom.  A blog has been set up to guide the study:
We Read, We Blog, We Teach
Before I dig into the book study though, I'm starting to sift through my pile by reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  I have heard great things about this book and am excited to read it prior to starting my planning for Daily 5.  I'll be sure to let you know what I think!

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child [Book]