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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Book Whisperer--Chapter 6: Cutting the Teacher Strings

This was probably the hardest chapter for me.  Not because I didn't enjoy it, but because it made me take a truly critical look at my practices.  I have been guilty of teaching great books instead of teaching readers.  My practices have changed over the years, but in some ways, I certainly have done it.

For a variety of reasons, I have not taught whole class novels for a couple of years.  I place a lot of emphasis on our read-aloud novel.  It is a great place to have discussions and to practice a variety of skills.  It encourages kids to find similar books or books by the same author.  I have also used share-read in the classroom.  I am going to look closely at my use of extension and arts/crafts activities with literature, too.  As we are standard driven, I think I do a pretty good job of making activities match standards, but I am sure that I do some that aren't developing the students as they should.

I really like the idea of teaching comprehension tests as their own genre.  I do not give many comprehension tests throughout the year, but we do practice the format and going back to use our text to find the answer.  I have never been a fan of AR or any of those programs, so it was good to have her thoughts on that match mine!

We do not complete book reports in my class either.  Students are responsible for sharing about a book they are reading about once a month.  However, they do not get to choose their day to share, I have a schedule set up.  I do this sometimes as well.  I liked Ms. Miller's ideas of teaching them about the term spoiler.  We have a lot of set things that the students discuss in their short book share, but sometimes I do have a student who wants to tell a little too much...

My students are given reading log pages to keep track of minutes read at home, but I am still undecided about this year.  I have no requirements about it.  I just ask them to turn it in at the end of the month.  I watch for increased minutes.   I think of it like being on a diet and recording the food you ate....for some people it really helps them to have some accountability to themselves.  For my own sons, two were VERY motivated by recording minutes each month, and two could care less.  It was just one more fight.  That is why I really deemphasize them in my class.

I have never appreciated popcorn or round robin reading!  When I taught older students and we read a lot more from the text book, I would give out reading assignments the night before so that students had plenty of time to read and practice their portion before reading it to the class.  With my third graders, I use a lot of partner reading or listening to the text from a CD.

I have questioned the use of incentive programs before, too.  One time, I heard a speaker say that the best incentive was a new book.  For example, Pizza Hut should reverse their program.  Instead  of earning a pizza for meeting a reading goal, students should earn a free book every time they eat a pizza from Pizza Hut!  That would really be encouraging reading!

So, I have some practices that I need to reevaluate.  I certainly want to be a teacher who teaches a love of reading rather than just great books!


Ashleigh said...

I appreciate this post. It gives me a lot to think about!

Christie said...

You found Zebra bean bags? Our Meijer's (the 3 I've been to) have not had those!! Although, maybe that's a good thing...

♥ Christie
Teaching in Flip Flops

PS - It's totally exciting for me to find another IL teacher :)

Shannon said...

I'm doing some "blog catch up" right now and loved your post about this chapter. I absolutely LOVE your Pizza Hut idealogy! :)