The Book Whisperer

Discussion in 'General Education' started by otterpop, May 27, 2016.

  1. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Sep 30, 2016

    You're doing Wonders too? Sounds like we have a very similar reading block. :) The curriculum is pretty challenging for my students, and I find they need a lot of direct instruction to do well on the tests. However, I've worked hard to fit in independent reading time too, and they love it. I also "sell" books... It helps a lot. This year I'm trying to get them to read more in general. Just read and write, as much as possible. I have mostly stopped giving out worksheets... I still do the same pages, but I project the sheets, so they have to write in their notebooks.
     
  2. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Sep 30, 2016

    What does your usual block look like / if you have the chance at some point, would you mind sharing your weekly/bi-weekly routine? Right now, IR is just fitting into nooks and crannies of being caught up...blah.
    As much as I sorta tried this my first couple years, I can tell that today was a much better example compared to the other times I've done it. I think reading along with them - going for the same 40 books - is adding a lot of 'cred' to my word, too.
     
  3. mathmagic

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    Oct 23, 2016

    Another update - again, purely numbers, but I think numbers can still be telling at times:
    6.5 million words (still about 3x the pace of last year, when the different starting point / different class size is considered), about 220+ books read.

    I asked a colleague if they would mind me looking at their totals so far, and interestingly, their class had around the same number of books (maybe a dozen or so less), but only about 2.5 million words, with the same number of students.

    My inference/take-away from this is that my kids are feeling more free to read books that they enjoy - often longer books - because there's no "finish a book by mid-month, 2 by end of month, including meeting your point goal" requirement.

    I still really need to work with those half-dozen-ish students who are still well below the pace they need to be at, but I'm confident that I can get them there, especially if I can put together some book lists, and make sure that I check in with them more often.
     
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  4. yellowdaisies

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    Oct 24, 2016

    This is really interesting data! We don't use anything like AR, so we don't really have a way to compare classes in such a concrete way.

    For the reluctant readers, have you done book talks? I'm trying to get started doing 2 of those a day. In 5th, I find that kids really respond well to book recommendations from peers - often much better than they'll respond to recommendations from me.
     
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  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Oct 25, 2016

    I've incorporated book talks this year (although, I will admit that I'm not being as diligent about it as I want to be). The "Recommended by MrsC" basket in my class library is almost always empty--kids are snapping everything up!
     
  6. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    It would be more cumbersome, but you could calculate the words read: arbookfind.com has the word count for books when you look them up, so students could add up their totals if they had some running track of what they read. Probably not realistic, but a thought in case you ever wanted to track word count!

    And yes - one of my stronger readers actually took leadership and took notes when we were discussing what would go into a good book commercial (recommendation/talk). She worked with the other artists in class to create a poster board, and I created a little form that students could fill out, so that here soon we can have students do book commercials, and then post up the information they shared, with the book right underneath it for easy checking-out.

    Really, I need to double down on making lists together with them, and giving them some guidance for utilizing their library time / what kinds of questions to ask our librarian. One of my readers who hasn't read much ended up checking out 4 books yesterday because of the fact that she went in with a specific plan.
    That's an interesting idea: I do plan on modeling the book talks/commercials at the beginning, and so of course those books will be on display, but I love the idea of having a specific section of books suggested by the teacher. In reality, good readers use that all the time - at bookstores (suggestions by employees), at the library (suggestions by the librarians), and more.
     
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  7. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Oct 26, 2016

    A question for others: I've noticed that more reading seems to happen during each weekday rather than the weekend (and similarly, more on full days of school than half days of school, when we were doing conference week). Amusingly, it isn't something we talk about as "homework" - even though we do write it down in the plan book.

    Any ideas for increasing the amount of weekend reading? I'd imagine that those would be the times that more reading could get done, given the fact that there's more open time (even with events, there's nothing to do immediately in the morning, or no homework to worry about in the evening).
     
  8. MetalTeacher

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    Oct 27, 2016

    I've been hearing a lot about these and just placed an order for both. So far it's sounding like my Adolescent Literature/Reading Education prof at JMU modeled her class on these books. (A class that I LOVED.)
     
  9. Pashtun

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    Expectations. Are they expected to read on the weekends? This is my opinion.
     
  10. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    When we fill out the plan book at the end of each day (including Fridays), we always are jotting down to read. I probably need to look into helping them into reflection on times when they could fit reading in, though. We've talked a bit about it, but it never hurts to go back over it! I've just decided this year to not label it as "homework", but rather a daily part of their life.
     
  11. MetalTeacher

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    I just finished The Book Whisperer and it was really inspiring. I want to try something similar to this in my future classroom. Since I plan on teaching high school I'll probably have to make a few modifications, and considering VA's standards I don't think it would work well with 11th or 12th grade, but if I'm teaching 9th or 10th I'd love to incorporate as much of this into my class as I can.
     
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  12. FourSquare

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    I just finished this and I am now in the middle of Reading in the Wild.

    Question - Do you all have some good text around conferencing? I know what a reading conference is, but I think I need to get better pacing and more laser focused.
     
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  13. mathmagic

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    I'd love to know too...although honestly, I don't even have time for anything but very informal conferences right now. At least they're focused on talking about the books their reading and capturing their interests towards other books...as opposed to with my old system where I tended to be more focused on point goals!
     
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  14. yellowdaisies

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  15. FourSquare

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    Nov 3, 2016

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  16. FourSquare

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    Nov 11, 2016

    ....and by "this weekend" I totally meant THIS weekend. #reportcardproblems

    Halfway through. It's just starting to get into actual conference types, which I think is hilarious for a book about conferencing. The first half is mostly an overview of reader's workshop and other routines that make conferencing possible. To be continued...
     
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  17. Pashtun

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    Yeah, I wasn't impressed with the book either. However, independent reading time is an accepted practice in my district, so the idea of having independent reading time was a let down.

    I didn't care for her putting down so called requirements for reading, yet she had very specific requirements that students tracked and she used all her powers of persuasion to get students to meet those requirements.
     
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  18. FourSquare

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    I agree! I kept waiting for something Earth-shattering. Nothing ever came. But she did renew my excitement and belief that students should be doing more reading and writing.

    Also, there are a bunch of anecdotes where I was like "How nice it must be to teach on the coast of Maine where everything's nice!" (Or wherever she was lol.)
     
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  19. Pashtun

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    I thought it was interesting that she teaches in an area where independent reading and talking to students about the books they read is the revolutionary break through, or that kids would come to her having only read, I think she said, like 3 books from classes before hers.
     
  20. MetalTeacher

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    Nov 26, 2016

    One of my former professors recommended Book Love by Penny Kittle to me as well. It's in a similar vein to Donalyn Miller's books, but Kittle goes a bit more into her methodology, and her experience is centered around high school. I haven't read it yet but it's definitely going on my list.
     
  21. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Nov 27, 2016

    I think the latter is why it was such an important book for me, and might be for many others. Some people may already have the mindset and be on that route with students. For those, it really is preaching to the choir mostly. For new teachers, or for some teachers who are open-minded but have been down a different route for most of the career, it's a vital shift in thinking.
     
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  22. MrsC

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    Nov 28, 2016

    There weren't any a-ha moments for me in the book, but it did provide validation of my beliefs. I have always felt strongly about the importance of choice in reading.
     
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  23. Backroads

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    I think it is crucial for those outside the choir. With so much focus on tests and vigor and what have you, some might shy away from the simplicity of just reading.
     
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  24. MrsC

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    Nov 28, 2016

    We are concerned that our students don't like to read, but then state that we can't let them read what they like because it isn't "good enough".
    As an adult, I will read things that I need to--professional reading, assigned articles, etc--but would hate to be told that I couldn't read my psychological thrillers or my People magazine. If we want to develop a love of reading, we need to rethink our philosophies about what we will let our students read.
     
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  25. Pashtun

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    For those of you that do not use a program such as AR, how do you know with confidence that students are understanding the books they are reading and are actually reading their books from beginning to end?


    This is very challenging for me with over 30 students.
     
  26. Backroads

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    I think I'm at a bit different situation from you, but in 2nd grade, I really don't care if they read a chapter book from beginning to end or not.

    I have mini conferences where we check in on reading and comprehension. I have 29 students, and it's the only way I know to manage their reading!
     
  27. MrsC

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    I have 32 grade 7 students and I do the same. I have informal discussions with the students about what they are reading and conference periodically (although not as often as I would like to). When we are discussing strategies, genres, literary devices and literary elements, they apply the lessons to the books they are reading independently.
     
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  28. Pashtun

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    Yeah, I can see conferences working really well in lower grades.
     
  29. Pashtun

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    How do you check how well they are applying strategies to their independent reading?

    What types of questions do you ask in the informal discussions that convince you they are reading good fit books without having read the books for yourself?
     
  30. MrsC

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    After a mini-lesson on theme, for example, I'll ask the students to write a few sentences about theme in the book they are currently reading. When looking at character development, I'll have them put sticky notes in their books to mark sections where a character is acting contrary to what is expected. When we conference, they can refer back to their stickies.

    I pick up the books that students have on their desks or in their book boxes, read the back and ask them to tell m a bit about the book. Often, I am able to make recommendations of other books based on their interests or on what they are currently reading. I encourage the students to talk to each other about what they are reading and to make recommendations to each other. For me, a book is a "good fit" for a student if they are reading.

    Independent reading is not the only component of my reading program, but it is an important one. Right now, the class is doing Book Clubs and we haven't had much time for independent, free-choice reading. Several students told me at the end of last week that they really miss it. I need to be sure to carve out 15 or 20 minutes a day several times this week.
     
  31. Pashtun

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    So a good fit book is any book they are attempting to read? Regardless of whether or not they are actually understanding it?

    Yes, I understand that independent reading is only a portion of ones reading program.
     
  32. MrsC

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    If they aren't understanding a book, they usually won't stick with it for long. If I notice a student not making progress with a book, I'll talk with them, try to figure out what the challenge is, and come up with a plan.
     
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  33. Pashtun

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    This may be a difference between middle school and upper elementary ( or maybe just my experience), but you don't have struggling readers who will "unknowingly" read books they don't understand? As in constantly...not even knowing that they don't understand the book?

    In my experience, most struggling readers will "read", will "read" books from beginning to end, start stop, what ever, but not understanding what they are reading...they don't even know...hence one of the reasons they are a struggling reader.
     
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  34. MrsC

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    I certainly do have struggling readers--lots of them! Often, they are the ones who are choosing something other than novels for their independent reading--graphic novels, magazines and non-fiction are really popular and offer the students more support (through pictures and other text features) than novels do.
     
  35. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Same here with this: many just don't understand how to know whether they are understanding or not. When I dig deeper, and ask how well they know the words on the page, or ask them about the characters/plot, it tends to appear - but they really need those more constant check ins to scaffold that book choice and being able to self-assess that comprehension. They often also want to read books they see others reading, and that desire will sometimes overpower the realization that they're just not ready for that (independently; on tape or read aloud they might be slightly more successful).
     

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