I love how the first day back from break can be like a second first day of school. I thought I’d rearrange desks, bring out new books. Perhaps new notebooks.
I sit at the dining room table, wondering about revitalizing reading after three weeks away, when I spot my brand new copy of Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. I think, I’ll just read a little, and then go back to planning….Not possible. Donalyn, you just picked me up and next thing I know I’m half way through the book.
It’s interesting how some things just float to you. Maybe it was reading Dana Murphy’s post on her one little word that got me to open the book and not put it down. Donalyn’s thinking just floated up as natural as can be.
By page 7, I grab a piece of loose leaf note paper next to me. I start in the center of the page, letting the ideas hit me and then connect.
Book finished. I look over my notes, and think, what can I do now, next week?
1. Plan to alternate units of study, reading or writing. The elements of my reading and writing classroom are still there: read aloud, independent reading and writing, as well as small group conferring. But the whole group mini lesson focus is on one area of study, reading or writing. Not both simultaneously, they alternate. I practically cried when I read this. It makes sense. It lessens the teaching time and maximizes the student reading and writing time. It addresses my limitations: I can’t do it all very well, and neither can the students.
2. Tools for Wild Readers. The whole concept of a “Wild Reader” is a reader who lives the reader’s life outside the confines of the classroom. Readers that sneak reading in those little spaces of time, the in-between moments; that always have a book within reach, a book on deck and a list of books to be read. My readers are mostly at school readers. And I get that. Donalyn gets that too. Which is so real. It’s time to give my students a chance to be wild readers, to take ownership of their reading with new tools.Their notebooks need to have these tools on board: a place to put a TBR list and a place to record their reading in a meaningful way.
3. A Library App: My library is a living, breathing mess, a monster at times. I spend hours reorganizing and discovering missing books. I’ve tried many systems. It continues to be far less than good and time consuming for students and me. But hey, silly me there is an app for that! A computerized check out that scans IBSN numbers. Here’s the free app from Booksource.com called classroom organizer. I downloaded it to my phone, entered student names, and tried scanning a couple of books. Easy as pie. It will take a while to get all the books scanned, but I have energetic 5th graders who would love this work during lunch time and after school.
4. Reader’s Door: I never got this done on the first, first day of school. The reminder in the book plus my new #mustreadin2014 list has inspired me. I’m imagining what I read over the break and my TBR books covering the door with an invitation for students take this over, making their plans concrete.
5. Graffiti Wall: We’ve done this with Read Aloud. It’s time to take it up an notch and get to those independent reads.
The Bottom Line. Reading in the Wind reminds me to reflect on the bottom line. What do I want my student to walk away with when they finish fifth grade? Not just the ability to read, but the knowledge in their bones of what reading can and should feel like. This will happen on different levels for kids, but it will happen for all. That’s my bottom line.
It was a great day of wild reading. Not what I had planned to do, yet it turned out to be exactly what I needed to do.