Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Chapter 7

The last chapter....sad? exhilarated? motivated? everything and more? Me too.

Share your thoughts with these wonderful hosting blogs for Chapter 7...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Do you have a burning question for Donalyn Miller?

Hello all! Yes, I am still at the cottage but 2 days before I am scheduled to come home we discovered the internet..LOL. I am glad that we didn't know before though because there is something relaxing about being cut off and not feeling "pressured" to sign into anything.

I also wanted to let people know that I will be emailing your questions to Donalyn on Monday when I return comment, comment, comment! Get those questions coming. Donalyn and I also think that maybe an email got lost along the way during our last Q&A so if your questions wasn't answered the first time we are going to try and post it this time around!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Year End Evaluations

I love year end evaluations. I love to see what my kids write and say and think and how honest they are. Too funny! I am going to wait until my Chapter 7 post on July 30th (or so) to talk about my thoughts on this topic, but you can, should, MUST go and visit the hosting blogs for this whisper!!! 

Check them out and give them some comment love.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Chapter 6

I. have. learned. so. much. SO. MUCH.

Wow, Chapter brain is going to explode with the amazing turn out we have had for this read along and it just keeps coming. Hosting blogs for Chapter 6 are just as great as the rest...who knew there was so much greatness in the world, eh? 

The Book Whisperer Question and Answer

Post your questions for Donalyn Miller, the author of The Book Whisperer, in the comment section below.

Come on now...don't be shy!!!

Chapter 6- Cutting the Teacher Strings

Just a reminder to everyone that I am away at the cottage (I know, such a hard life!) so I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything is going to work for this post!

Cutting the teacher strings...letting go... yikes! That's always the hardest part, eh?

I have always tried very hard to make sure that reading never felt like school work in my classroom. How can something so amazing be work? I do recognize though that for many students that's exactly what it is. I think we are very lucky here in Ontario because we do not have the scripted programs that are mandated. When you switch schools it is rare sometimes that the exact same resources are available. Teachers are very open to choosing what we teach and how we teach.

In my first year teaching I taught at a private school and taught Language Arts to Grade 5, 6, 7, and 8! I taught a full class novel study to every class. More than once. It's how I was taught so it's how I taught. It was awful! Since then the only whole class novel I have continued to teach in The Outsiders in Grade 7. I love it. They love it. It's the only one that seems to work...for me, anyway. After reading The Book Whisperer I can't imagine ever doing a whole class novel study again. What. A. Waste. Of. Time. More is better and I would rather my students have the chance to read as much as possible.

The best part of this chapter for me came on page 127:
Teaching Readers, Not Books 

Doesn't that just say it all? Doesn't it.

I love that Miller approaches this chapter and illustrates a variety of different alternatives to the traditional approaches teachers have used to teach "books" but I think basically it all boils down to teaching "readers". I think that some of the traditional approaches can still work it just boils down to the students you are teaching in any given year. As a teacher we must know our students well enough to know what works and that means waiting. Waiting until we have gotten to know our students and their reading interests before we plan activities. Even though many of us teachers are planners and are organizers we can't plan it all in the summer. 

I must admit I love the idea of book commercials in the classroom but in this age of differentiated learning and teaching not all students will respond well to an oral assignment like this. I know that some students will respond better to the traditional book report and therefore should be given that opportunity as well. I do agree with Miller that traditional reading logs are a waste of time and paper. I can't even manage to keep one for myself so how could I expect my students to?

I think the main thing I am going to take away from this chapter is to be open to new ways of doing things and to look at everything from the point of view that my job is to teaching readers not books!

Discussion Questions:
1) Whole class novels? Past experience? Future attempts? Horror stories?
2) How do you plan to plan? Ahead of time, waiting...what will work best for your students?
3) Which of the alternatives that Miller presents appeals the most to you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Chapter 5

Walking the Walk.....hmmmm (On a personal note, I am off to my cottage for two glorious weeks of fun in the sun and family time so I hope all my posts come out alright!)

I love that I can picture myself in the very same discussion Miller outlines at the beginning of Chapter 5 because I have been in it many times myself (including discussing some of the books she mentions) validating is that?

On page 107 Miller states, "[b]y allowing students to pass through our classrooms without learning to love reading, we are creating adults (who then become parents and teachers) who don't read much... they do not love to read and have few lifelong reading habits to model for children." Wow. This brings to mind the time I told my husband that I didn't care if he didn't read as long as he frequently held books in front of our children and modeled reading. It's just so important and I must admit that in the 6 months we have been parents he has read more books than he probably has in his whole life (nevermind that they are picture books).

I have no doubt that I am a fantastic example of an adult who loves reading for my students (I am not being egotistical...LOL). I always have a book on me, I am always talking about books, I read a lot of YA. I walk the walk.

Next year when I am asking my students to read 40 books and according to the genre requirement I think it would be only fitting if I did the same. I plan to have my own Reader's Notebook in my class and track my own reading. Walk the walk!

My one goal is to read more literature at the level of my Grade 4's. I was very good at this when I taught 7 and 8 but slipped a bit last year when I started teaching Grade 4. I am going to set aside a page (or many) in my Reader's Notebook for students to recommend books to me and do my best to get through as many as I can.

Discussion Ideas:
1) Do you walk the walk?
- If yes, how so and what can you do to improve?
- If no, what's your plan now?

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Chapter 5

More than halfway!!! I have learned so much from this book and from all the fabulous posts by the hosting TBA authors and everyone joining in for our read along.

Chapter 5 is being fantastically hosted by these blogs. Check. It. Out.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Dreamin' ... Campin' ... Wishin'

This isn't a post about teaching or school, per se...but it is about where I learned many of my most important life lessons. 

For many, many, many years the start of summer meant packing a huge duffle bag (a hockey bag to be exact and probably because I am a Canadian girl with a hockey player dad!) and heading off into the wilderness that is summer camp.

I started going to camp when I was quite young. It all started with Girl Guide camp, Summer Outdoors day camp, horse camp, church camp, tennis camp, french camp, Jewish camp....whew, that's a lot of camp. I loved pretty much every minute of everyday I have every spent at camp. I bet to a lot of people that know me know this would be a huge surprise because I don't really give off the aura of an outdoorsy girl. But when you really think about it there is so much more to summer camp.

Summer camp is many things to many people, but to me it's...

- learning how to be away from home

- learning how to live in one room, cabin, tent with more people than you've ever lived with

- it's eating food your mom didn't cook

- it's waiting everyday for a letter to come from home

- it's sleeping through thunderstorms

- it's trying things that terrify you

- it's swimming in ponds and lakes with way too much seaweed

- it's doing lap after lap after lap in the attempt to earn that summer's swim badge

- it's shovelling 59 horses' worht of poop and actually having fun

- it's getting up at 6 am for early morning feed, or polar bear dip, or to run the camp road

- it's more face paint and apache fire challenges than most people ever encounter in their lifetime

- it's fun

- it's portaging a canoe in the dead heat of summer

- it's meeting your lifelong friends and maybe even your soulmate

- it's smiles, and giggles, and laughs, and crying, and everything in between

- it's campfires and singsong

- it's made me who I am today.

At the very young age of 15 I became a camp counselor and didn't stop until I was 25 and I still miss it every summer. My best friend, who I met at camp, asked me earlier this summer if I would send Avery to camp and my answer in absolutely....if she wants to go.

Now the summers are without summer camp..why don't they have summer camp for moms? What a great idea! But now my summers do have the cottage and that's where my family and I are headed tomorrow for two glorious weeks of relaxing, beaching, shopping, eating and resting.

It's not summer camp, but I'll take it. See you when I get back!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Reader's Notebooks

I love reader's notebooks and have been doing them for quite a few years. I started them when I taught Grade 7 and 8 and I was amazed at how well I was able to get to know my students, both personally and as  readers. Last year when I loved from Grade 8 to Grade 4 (huge jump) I didn't use them because I wasn't too sure about what they would be capable of and I was only staying for 4 months due to my pregnancy.

But this year!!!! I am starting right away. The first day! Well, maybe not the first day. But soon.

When I have used Reader's Notebooks in the past I created a set of questions for each week that the students used to help create their letters and of course they were able to write about what they loved about the book, questions they had for me, etc. I usually started the year off with a length requirement but soon found that most students pushed themselves far past the requirements and some were practically writing novels themselves!! LOL

When I taught Grade 7 and 8 I also taught 2 classes on rotary which meant 50 Reader's Notebooks to read every week....whew. I assigned a few students to each day of the week to hand in their books so that I only had about 5 or so to read. This means that you are doing a little marking everyday but it sure beats hauling 50 notebooks home every Friday! In my school system we run on a Day 1-10 schedule which I think would really spread out my marking but it would also mean that I would go two weeks between seeing some student's Reader's Notebooks. I think now that I have only 1 class of Grade 4's, who will write less that 7's and 8's I might break my class in to three groups and assign them due dates of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. If I had a class of 25 or so that would be 8 Reader's Notebooks to read each night? I might think on this more....I am worried if I use the Day 1-10 schedule that students will forget to do their Reader's Notebook and it won't become as much of a habit as it would if it was every week. Perhaps I could break the class into 5 groups and assign them 2 days each cycle! So Group A would hand their Reader's Notebooks on Day 1 and Day 6!! Hmmm, I like that idea.

Sorry, for my rambling...something I tend to think "outloud" to find a good solution.

Discussion Ideas:
1) Have you used Reader's Notebooks in the past? If so what did you like about it?
2) If you have not used Reader's Notebooks how do you plan to incorporate them this year into your reading program?
3) How will you schedule the Reader's Notebook due dates in order to be able to effectively read and respond authentically to all your students?

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Reader's Notebooks

I predict that this one is going to be a BIG one...lot's of things to discuss here. Good thing we have some amazing hosting blogs for his topic. Head over to check out what they are saying about Reader's Notebooks.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Mrs. Lyons says...."

Sigh, I have been waiting all day to sit down and write this post! Too much going on over here at my house. The baby is teething, for the first time...we think! The doctor told us it was the flu due to her "symptoms" but almost every other mom I have talked says, nope...teeth! Doctors apparently don't like to say the symptoms Avery is experiencing goes along with teething in case it is some thing more serious which makes sense but it doesn't make my last few days or nights any less stressful!

Anyway, back to the post! Mrs. Bainbridge's Class in having a linky party all about what the teacher know, those things you start to hear your students parrot back to you throughout the year. Super fun. Here's my contribution.

1. I am a big believer in looking on the bright side and not letting the little things become big things. So when my students freak out because an assembly went too long and they missed part of recess I tell them that I'm pretty sure the sun will come up tomorrow regardless of this catastrophe. They don't do well on a small quiz or assignment, the sun will come up tomorrow. Etc, etc. (Maybe I played Little Orphan Annie in a past life?) Anyway, usually around November or December at least a few of students have caught on to this and start to give each other the same advice. Priceless!!
Student A: Oh man, I left my (insert favourite toy among Grade 4 boys here) at home!
Student B: No worries, the sun will still come out tomorrow.

I literally have to bite my lip to stop from laughing out loud.

2. I spend a lot of time in class demonstrating and discussing how we talk to each other during group work because I love group work! I think/pair/share, round robin, etc out the wazoo...if I can't have at least one part of lesson be done in groups I usually won't do it! I mean after all, life is just one big session of group work. Anyway, I talk a lot to my students how it is totally okay to disagree with each other. Adults don't always think everyone around them is right so why should kids? But the important thing is how you disagree. I tell my students that you have to appreciate that people have a different opinion or idea and respectfully disagree. Be kind, be gentle and don't be rude. There's always one student who takes me 100% literally and can be overheard during group saying, "While I appreciate that you have a different opinion than me, I respectfully disagree with you!" It kills me every time. So polite. So proper. So funny.

These don't necessarily fit the linky party but I thought they were fun enough to share!

3. This one I think really comes from the demographic in which I teach. Almost 100% of my class is from an East Asian country and it seems to be part of their culture to call their teacher "Teacher"...but it drives me crazy! Whenever a students comes up to me and says, "Teacher?" I reply with, "Yes, Student?" and it gets a giggle every time. Names are important, people!

4. Finally, it seems to me that a lot of my students like to announce how many questions they have. For example, "Mrs. Lyons, I have 2 questions." Why? Why do they do this? To keep myself sane because for some reason it drives me bananas as well I will answer with "Okay, I have 2 answers." Gets a smile every time, too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reading Freedom- Chapter 4 of The Book Whisperer

Is anyone else's copy starting to look like a neon porcupine? Mine is covered with highlighter and post-it notes sticking out EVERYWHERE!!! I love it.

About three years ago I decided that the majority of my reading marks should come from my student's independent reading. I mean, after all, it's books they want to read, like to read and hopefully, will read. I pretty much gave up all control of the type of books my student's read. They had complete freedom. Like Miller, I did have some genre requirements however I didn't really follow through with it too seriously or really check up on my students. That's going to change this year!

I start every year with quite a few lessons on how to choose books and I love that Miller talks about how she handles the situation when a student says that "books are boring" (page 73). I always make a point of talking with my students about abandoning books and my favourite saying is that "life is too short to read bad books". My students know that it is okay to give up on a book they hate. Would you sit through an entire movie you hated? Probably not. So why read a whole book you hate!?

I am excited to share the rights of a reader with my students (page 75) this year. Teaching Grade 4 (after 7 years of Grade 7 & 8) has been an eye opening experience. I think I will have a brainstorming session with my class to create our own list of the rights of a reader before I share this list with them. I would really like to see what their opinion is on the subject, and it would make a great lesson in Writer's Workshop too...the rights of a writer! brain is working away tonight!

When I reached page 76 I heaved a big sigh of relief...oh good, Miller is going to explain why she makes her reading requirement 40 books. I have to admit I totally agree with her when she says that if you have high expectations that your students will rise to meet them but I am a little nervous to set so high a requirement. What if no student reaches that goal? What if every parent complains? What is my administration thinks I am crazy? The idea of creating a genre tally helps ease my fears somewhat although I will be adapting Miller's. I can't imagine asking my Grade 4 students to read 5 poetry anthologies as there isn't much of requirement for poetry in the Ontario curriculum and I would rather guide students through poetry. I would also like to add adventure as a genre because I know so many boys love to read adventures. If I had to decided today what my genre requirement would look like I would go with this:

Poetry Anthologies: 2
Traditional Literature: 3
Realistic Fiction: 4
Historical Fiction: 2
Graphic Novel: 1
Fantasy: 3
Science Fiction: 3
Mystery: 3
Informational: 5
Biography, Authobiography, Memoir: 2
Adventure: 3
Chapter Book Choice: 9

I have also added graphic novels because they are becoming very popular and I think as teachers we need to change with the times, regardless of our own personal opinion of any genre (I hate graphic novels!! Mostly because they all confuse me. It's not a reading skill I have.)

I might change, I might not....What would your genre requirements look like? I love the genre requirement because the very first reading expectation in the Ontario curriculum  for every grade is "read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of literary, graphic, and informational texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning". 

I am going to make it my goal this year to truly value the books my students are reading and to read as many of the books they recommend to me. I did this a lot when I taught Grade 7 and 8 because I really enjoy YA...however, the books Grade 4's often enjoy...well, they are a different story. But like Miller points out on page 84 "[b]y allowing and encouraging students to read what they want, I also endorse their culture and their interests". How true. I want to be able to discuss the books my students are reading and that can only happen authentically if I have also read the books.

My second goal for this year is get better at read alouds. I love doing them with picture books, but chapter books tend to get really dragged out. I want to really look at my schedule and see how I can find extra time for chapter book read alouds while still giving my students their independent reading time.

Starting in August (because we go back to school in September here in Ontario) I am going to create me genre lesson plans. I may start my buying this amazing looking package from Clutter Free Classroom.  Why reinvent the wheel right?

Lastly, (because whew...this is a looooong post) I want to talk more and Reader's Notebooks but I will save it for my next post when we talk about the Whisper: Reader's Notebooks. I'll just say this I have basically used the same method as Donalyn explains and I have never known more about my student's reading abilities and as people. I. Love. it.

The end! (Whew).

Discussion Questions:
1) How do you plan to give your students reading freedom?
2) What are your favourite reading lessons to start the school year with?
3) What would your genre requirement look like? Why would you pick these genres?
4) As we are half way through The Book Whisperer what goals have you made for your reading program for this coming school year?

The Book Whisperer Read Along- Chapter 4

The stupendous hosting blogs for this chapter are:

Give them a "looksie" and share a comment with your thoughts!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Book Whisperer Special Event!!- Homeschooling

I am super excited to read all about The Book Whisperer from a homeschooling perspective. Cindy is hosting this great special event over at her blog love2learn2day.

If you are also a homeschool teacher and would like to link up for this special event just add your blog to the linky party below to share your ideas with other homeschool teachers.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Favourite Books- Linky Party

Mrs Runde is having a linky party about our favourite books...and is there a better topic as we read through The Book Whisperer?? I think not!

Childhood Favourites:

Anne of Green Gables
Little Women
Little House on the Prairie
The Secret Garden
Sarah Plain and Tall
- is it any wonder that historical fiction became my favourite genre?

Classroom Favourites:

The Hunger Games (trilogy)- I recommend this book to any reader in Grade 7 or 8...try giving it to a "reluctant" or dormant readers as Donalyn Miller terms them, it will grab their attention
The Outsiders- LOVED teaching this in Grade 7, the only book I would still consider doing a whole class novel with
The Lorax
The Straight Line Wonder
Odd Violet
Voices in the Park
Charlotte's Web
Henry's Freedom Box

Reading to My Own Children Favourites:

Yeah! I have a baby so I can answer for this category!
Dr. Suess' ABC (I pretty much have it memorized)
Guess How Much I Love You
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Richard Scary's ANYTHING

Professional Favourites:

When Kids Can't Read by Kylene Beers (My teaching bible)
Teaching Readers and Writers by Fountas and Pinell
The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
The Daily 5 and CAFE Assessment by "The Sisters"

Guilty Pleasures:

Harry Potter Series
The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
- anything by Conn Igglund, Phillippa Gregory, Anne Easter Smith
The Lord of the Rings (trilogy)

To be completely honest I will read pretty much anything!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chapter 3 Hosting Blogs

These wonderful ladies are hosting Chapter 3 of The Book Whisperer Read Along over at their blogs. Pay them a visit and say hello for me!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

They are home....whispers of books

"Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home." ~ Quindlen

Doesn't that just say it all? I love that Donalyn Miller talks about how reading is the cornerstone for everything in Chapter 3. I have often found myself saying the very same thing to my students. In Science we read about science, in Social Studies we read about social studies, in Math we read about math...we read, read, read ALL. THE. TIME. I think it's impossible to go the entire day without reading. It would be like going an entire day without seeing an advertisement (which we have to read most of the time!). Impossible.

Time for Reading Is Time Well Spent
I agree that it's important to build up the amount of time your students spend reading in class, or as the "sisters" describe it in The Daily 5 - stamina. Especially coming off the summer break many students may not have read very much, or at all, during the break and really need to build up to it. I often use the following analogy when talking about challenging ourselves to read books that are just a little more difficult- "You can't just go out the door and decide to run a marathon today. You have to slowly build up to it by going a little farther each day." I have always tried to challenge my students to improve their reading by stretching themselves in term of the reading level of the books they read, but it also work when you think about the time they spend reading. If we slowly build our reading stamina then we will continue to get better and better without burning out by going for too long too fast.

I think the best part of reading this book for me so far has been the validation I have felt for my reading program. About 4 years ago I switched to a mainly choice based reading program and it's very encouraging to read about someone else doing a similar thing and it working. I am learning so many new ways to tweak my program and make it even stronger in the coming school year.

I am also VERY excited about the idea Donalyn presents for "stealing reading moments". The greatest frustration I faced this past year was dealing with students who finished their work in class and then having to redirect their focus. Previously I had only taught Grade 7 and 8 and my students never finished their work in class (whether I gave too much, they talked too much, or by then they had figured out not to tell the teacher they were done...who knows!). In Grade 4, students finish early a lot. I made a poster that gave them a list of options for work or activities to be done but students rarely worked on stuff and usually just asked me what they could do anyway. Frustration to the max!!!!!  I was also frustrated with my student;s lack of focus in the morning when I had prepared "bell work" for them and was continually reminding them to get started. I want to send a huge thanks to Donalyn for this chapter. From now on my class will read when they arrive in the morning, read when there is a class interruption, read when they are done their, read, read!!

Another goal for this coming school year is to create a place for reading. I know Donalyn discusses how you don't really need a special reading corner with comfy chairs, lamps, etc but I really like the idea of creating this space to value reading in my classroom. In previous year I taught Grade 7 and 8 and those students have big bodies which means there is very little space left for a reading corner. I also taught on rotary so students were constantly in and out of the room. Now that I teach Grade 4 I want to make a reading area for my room.

It's almost impossible not to get drawn into Donalyn's passion about reading and book as I make my way through The Book Whisperer. In the words of my favourite fictional character I feel as though I have found a "kindred spirit". This book makes me excited for the start of the school year and to get cracking at my reading program!

This chapter's linky party is being hosted by Heidi over at Swamp Frog First Graders. Please head over there to link up your post and share your ideas.

The Answers!!

Here are the answers Donalyn emailed back to me as part of our Book Whisperer read along! She even had them done a day early because she was heading off on vacation...I hope she is having a wonderful, and well-deserved great time. Don't forget that we are going to have a second Q&A so if thought of a question since I closed the comments, or your question didn't get answered then you can always post it again.

My question for Donalyn is: I teach a first/second grade multiage class. In your book, you talk a lot about making time for independent reading and also students taking advantage of down time to read. This makes complete sense in sixth grade, since I'm sure many of them are reading novels, but how could I adapt this for first and second graders? I just imagine a thirty-minute independent reading time with students getting up and switching out books constantly. The only thing I can think of is to have them start with a huge pile of books on their desks... Do you have any other ideas of how I can incorporate many of your ideas into primary grades? Thanks! Jill

Donalyn's answer~
In a primary class, I think your idea about stacks of books on every table from which the children may choose makes good sense. You could have the children help you select the books for their tables every week and rotate piles among tables or select books that connect to the authors or topics you introduce in class. Consider adding your read alouds and books from guided reading into the piles, too.

I recommend Debbie Miller's books (No relation, although I'll claim her!) on workshop teaching and comprehension. Her ideas are geared toward younger grades, but her philosophy embraces similar ideas

Hi Donalyn, thanks so much for agreeing to this! I just finished your book today--I feel so empowered and READY to transform my students' attitudes about reading. I used to love to read as a child until my high school teachers started requiring us to read books I was NOT interested in. Almost 10 years later and in my 20s I am starting to get back to what I used to love. I want to pass on my passion and excitement to my students. Here is my dilemma....I also teach in Texas (yay STAAR). My grade is departmentalized and I am the math teacher. I will also teach my homeroom science next school year. I plan to (somehow) squeeze in time to at least read to my homeroom about 10 minutes per day, but that is all I can do. I also use whatever math literature I can get my hands on for my lessons, which my students LOVE. How do you suggest I get my students motivated and passionate about reading when I teach math and science and not teach Language Arts? Froggycupcakes

Donalyn's answer~

You can still promote reading even though you are a math and science teacher. Here are some suggestions:
Show students that you are a reader by suggesting books and sharing what you are reading with them-- even if by casually mentioning it. It is important for children to see that many adults are readers-- not just English teachers.
Encourage students to bring a book to your class to read when they are done with their science or math work for the day. They may not need the book most days, but you are sending a strong message about how much you value reading. My math and science teacher colleagues would rather students read when they finish their math practice, science reading, or projects than draw, visit, or goof off.
Go to the library and check out books about science and math topics you are studying. Your librarian would be overjoyed to help you. Put these books along your marker rail or dedicate a shelf (facing the books cover out is best). At the beginning or end of class, ask students to select one book to skim. Students can pick one fact or one text feature (charts, diagrams, etc.) to share. Encourage students to read these books when they are done with their classwork for the day, too. This activity builds background knowledge for the topics you are studying and exposes students to more nonfiction texts.
I think that reading aloud a book to your homeroom is a marvelous idea, too. What a great community builder for kids who you only see for a few minutes each day.

These are the other questions posed by our fellow read along members...perhaps we can discuss them together and come up with some solutions?

Question #1- A dear friend's son is not interested in reading at all. She has modeled reading with him. She bought him books that he would be interested in. She went to visit a librarian for suggestions. Nothing has worked for several years. He still dislikes it. Any other suggestions for him?  Tamara

Question #2- I know a child who reads aloud VERY slowly and sounds each letter out. He is in fifth grade. Yet, he scores very high on comprehension. Should his slow reading be a concern. Will he gradually speed up as he reads more and more?(Sometimes this is a problem when he has to take timed tests.) Thank you! Tamara

Question #3- I love the idea of a reader's notebook, how would I incorporate this for my first graders? I have a few ideas, but would love your take on this. Janine 

Don't forget we will all be talking about reader's notebook from July 16th-18th along with 

Ashley from
Laral from

Little Miss Kindergarten who will be hosting.

Question #4- My system using a basal program that places students in ability level groups. It is a very skill based program but it does expose kids to many genres and types of texts each week. How would you suggest I encourage a love of reading with such a program? I read aloud of my kids all the time and talk about books I am reading but I worry that this program will squish any desire to read! Thanks for your time and your brillant book! Katie

Question #5- My question is regarding English Language Learners. I teach newcomer ELL students in 4th and 5th grade. My class uses interactive stories online, listens to books on iPods, and I read tons of books aloud (so they can comprehend and enjoy more age-appropriate books). It's the independent reading I worry about at times. Many are just learning to read in English, so it can sometimes be challenging to find high-interest books at their reading levels. Do you have any advice regarding students just learning to read in English? Thank you! Kristen

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Top Ten Things! Linky Party

Mrs Owens over at Go Fourth! With Mrs. Owens is having a linky it. You need to list the top ten things about yourself that people need to know. She also has a freebie for followers (if you aren't already following her awesome blog my only question would be "Why not?") to use in your classroom too.

In no particular order...

10. I love reality TV game shows- Survivor, The Bachelorette, So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent, Big Brother. I'll watch them all.

9. I went to summer camp for 21 years- as a camper and a staff member. It's one of the best opportunities you can give your child to learn who they really are.

8. I really like to go grocery shopping. No, really! I even posted about it on my personal blog!

7. I have become an avid knitter in the past year. So fun.

6. I read A. LOT. A lot...I kept track a year ago and even though my laptop was stolen (sad...) I was up to 80 books by September. I know there are people out there who would laugh at this little number and I follow some of their blogs, but I am pretty proud of it.

5. I organize my book shelves by spine pretty.

4. I own my own label maker and label a lot of things. It's an addiction.

3. I would rather spend the day staring at my baby than doing anything else.
2. I call my mom at least once if not twice a day.

1. Being a mom is the best thing I have ever done!

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Note to Third Grade Bookworm!

Hello friend! When I click on the link you left as part of our read along for Chapter 2 of The Book Whisperer it says that I need to be invited to read your blog. I would love to read and share your thoughts...any way I can gain access??

Thanks, Beth

Whisper- Surveys

Head over to these stupendous blogs to see what other thoughts are being "thunk" about student surveys!

I love surveys....well, I love surveys in the classroom. Real life, not so much (especially those pesky telemarketers that always know when it's dinner time!). I have used surveys in my classroom since I started teaching and always have one at the beginning of the year....BUT I have never thought of using them to inform my book recommendations for students. Amazing idea. I always used them to know a little about my student's family back ground, subject likes/dislikes and as a bit of a writing diagnostic. I am definitely going to look at my student surveys in a whole new light come September and I think I will also repeat the survey halfway through the year to see if my student's interests have changed as they have grown.

Have you used surveys in the past? What information did you hope to get from them?
What is your plan for student surveys after reading this "whisper"?
Do you have a student survey prepared? Post it as a freebie!

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