Book clubs: Meet with your book club and TALK ABOUT YOUR BOOK. If you get stuck, consider these questions: What was your favorite part? Why? What were the key issues? How, if at all, do these issues have parallels in contemporary society? Did this book help you grow? If so, how? If not, why? To whom would you recommend this book? Why?
How did the conversation start, progress, and end? What insights did you gain by talking about the book? How, if at all, did your talk go beyond the book? If you “went outside the book,” was the talk useful? Why? Did you take pleasure in the conversation? Why? What work did you accomplish in the conversation? Did you want/need more direction? If so, what kind? If you were to use book clubs with your students, …what challenges do you foresee? …what benefits do you foresee? …how do you think students would respond? Take a few minutes to write about the process of talking about your book with others who read it recently:
Commercials, Trailers, Reviews: Book Club Selections
We have worked so hard to develop systems to teach reading, yet I claim that we had no justification for systematizing an act like reading in the first place. The only groups served by current trends to produce endless programs for teaching reading are the publishing and testing companies who make billions of dollars from their programs and tests. It is horrifying that the people who have the corner on getting children to read – children’s book authors, parents, and teachers – get the least credit monetarily or otherwise. (3) Read Donalyn’s story, pp
Miller’s “Types of Readers” Developing (or Struggling) Readers Not reading on grade level, these readers may suffer from disabilities or a lack of reading experiences. When in remedial programs, they generally read 75% less than students in regular classes – and as they continue to read less than their peers, they fall farther behind each year. They need lots of independent reading to help them get up to speed.
Miller’s “Types of Readers” Dormant (or Reluctant) Readers These readers read well enough to pass their classes and their state tests, but they “never embrace reading as a worthwhile pursuit outside of school” (28). They do their work, but they read only for work – not for pleasure. Hence, most or all of their reading selections are dictated by teachers. They need opportunities to discover the “magic” of reading; they need to be introduced to books – and given the opportunity to choose books – that will help them shape their own identities as readers.
Miller’s “Types of Readers” Underground Readers These readers have active personal reading lives, but they see “school” reading as disconnected from their independent reading. Perhaps because the school doesn’t value their reading, they don’t value school reading, either. Think about your own students. Can you identify some as struggling, dormant, or underground readers? How?
Factors that Contribute to Successful Learning * Immersion – giving students lots of books to read and lots of opportunities to read them Demonstration – showing students how texts are structured, how to access the information in those texts, and how to use those texts for different purposes Expectations – expecting students to read often and well Responsibility – making students responsible for selecting their own reading material * Cambourne, Brian. “Toward an Educationally Relevant Theory of Literacy Learning: Twenty Years of Inquiry.” Reading Teacher 49(3): ).
Factors that Contribute to Successful Learning Employment – giving students time to practice their skills Approximations – allowing students to make mistakes as they develop their skills Response – giving students immediate, nonthreatening feedback about their progress Engagement – making sure that students see themselves as readers,... they find personal value in their reading,... their reading is anxiety-free, and... they see reading modeled by someone they respect.
Factors that Contribute to Successful Learning Immersion Demonstration Expectations Responsibility Employment Approximations Response Engagement Think about your own classes. How might you help create and foster these factors in those classes?
I no longer spend the majority of my planning time crafting those glorious novel units. Instead, I focus my efforts on designing a classroom environment that engages my students, based on Cambourne’s conditions for learning. We can spend hours determining what students should know and be able to do, crafting instruction to accomplish the desired results, but without considering students’ right to an engaging, trustworthy, risk-free place in which to learn, what we teach will always fall short. Students must believe that they can read and that reading is worth learning how to do well. We have to build a community that embraces every student and provides acceptance and encouragement no matter where students are on the reading curve. (37)
More support for independent reading (a.k.a., SSR) First, a story from a high school teacher about implementing SSR at his school...
During my first years as a teacher at Brewer High School, I noticed that one of my colleagues … incorporated SSR into her high school classes. At the time, I was surprised to see what I thought was an elementary/middle school concept employed at the secondary level. It didn’t take me long to figure out why the practice is worth the shot. My interest in SSR really began when I saw how few of my students actually read outside of class. I realized they were not only avoiding my reading assignments, but they were avoiding reading altogether. After mulling over a little Stephen Krashen during my graduate work, I decided the potential benefits of pleasure reading on my students’ fluency, vocabulary, writing skills, self-efficacy, and attitudes about reading in general justified the attempt. I decided I’d incorporate twenty minutes of free reading time every other class. My department chair, whom I respect for her open-mindedness and literacy background, enthusiastically supported the idea and suggested we take it on as a department initiative. Giving up valuable instruction time was difficult, so, like my fellow English teachers, I found myself skipping reading periods to accomplish curriculum goals. For SSR to be successful, reading time must be offered regularly and consistently, so I knew something had to change. When the faculty began discussing the possibility of removing our advocacy program (essentially a ten-minute homeroom period), I saw an opportunity. I started talking to our librarian (who, by the way, loved the increase in book circulation) about a school- wide SSR program to replace/augment the failing advocacy period. At the same time, our school’s literacy coach began forming a literacy team, which was the perfect place to launch our idea.
Apparently, LHS had incorporated DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read) once before, but a lack of faculty buy-in had crashed the program. Knowing this, the newly formed literacy team put together a proposal that addressed the faculty’s hesitance and “sold” the initiative. Luckily, the general irritation about the advocacy program already in place also made SSR an easy sell, and when we took it to a vote, no one voted against it. Now, our building is silent for 20 minutes four days a week. Almost every person in the building (including students, teachers, office staff, and administrators) reads during this time. Now in its fourth year, the program has lost its shiny newness and has become a natural part of our routine and school culture. Though some students still grumble about being “forced” to read, they hear the message that literacy matters, and the initial resistance to SSR has lost its energy. Unfortunately, not every teacher sticks to the program, so developing consistency is a goal for us next year. Unless every SSR leader models the reading behaviors we’d like to see in our students, the program cannot reach its full potential. Some students in my SSR group openly admit that they would never read on their own time (and claim that they had read few or no books since elementary school) who have read several novels and enjoyed them. We’ve also seen slight increases in reading scores in the past few years (though we cannot necessarily attribute these changes to the program). In addition, the library is enjoying much more frequent use than our pre-SSR days. I can tentatively say that we’ve accomplished part of our mission. Seth Mitchell Next, some research support...
It builds knowledge capital. (As students gain knowledge, they become better readers; they are also better able to incorporate new knowledge into their existing knowledge.) It lets reading be a social activity. (Some otherwise reluctant readers will engage in reading when it has a strong social element.) It builds capacity. (Students need time to practice, to develop endurance as readers – in short, to become – and then be – readers.)
Even if traditional instruction were able to provide equivalent gains, the improvement in students’ attitude toward reading would be cause enough to devote substantial time to independent reading.... Why aren’t we giving students more time for independent reading in class? I hear many teachers say that they cannot set aside time for students to read because they have so much content to cover, but to what end? Because reading has more impact on students’ achievement than any other activity in school, setting aside time for reading must be the first activity we teachers write on our lesson plans, not the last. It is said that we make time for what we value, and if we value reading, we must make time for it. (52)
Educators, rejoice! The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report TM : Fifth Edition is just out, confirming what we’ve long known: Independent reading, both at school and at home, builds successful readers. What’s more, the research shows that giving our students a say in what they read is key. And from our experience, we also know frequent reading leads to becoming a proficient reader, which helps a child thrive personally and academically.Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report TM : Fifth Edition The report adds to the abundant data we’ve had for years, demonstrating that in-school independent reading built around time to read books for fun creates kids who love to read. Seventy-eight percent of children ages 12–17 who are frequent readers, defined by the Kids & Family Reading Report as kids who read books for fun five to seven days a week, reported that they have the opportunity to read a book of choice independently during the school day. Only 24 percent of infrequent readers—those reading for fun less than one day a week—in this age group say the same. In addition, 91 percent of children ages 6–17 agree “my favorite books are the ones that I have picked out myself.” My take-away? Classroom-based independent reading programs that invite reading choice and promote reading pleasure give rise to kids who not only read but, more importantly, who want to read. From a March 9 article in the Washington Post; see link on class wiki:
[T]hese four action steps help guarantee successful implementation [of an independent reading program]: Provide access to books. The research has been in for decades: robust classroom and school libraries raise student test scores. Literacy researcher Warrick Elley (1992) examined reading data from 32 countries and found that those with high student scores supported large classroom and school libraries—and also provided students with access to books both at home and in the community. Easy access to a wide range of books promotes voluminous reading, which, in turn, builds vocabulary, cognitive strategies, and general world knowledge. Award-winning teachers such as Donalyn Miller and Maria Walther watch for book sales to build classroom libraries with several thousand titles— across a wide range of genres, topics, themes, and ability levels. They make it their responsibility to know Young Adult and children’s literature and to track the titles that their students love best.
From a March 9 article in the Washington Post; see link on class wiki: [T]hese four action steps help guarantee successful implementation [of an independent reading program]: Invite choice. Some teachers, particularly those who work with younger students, like the support that the “Yours, Mine and Ours” strategy provides. The child chooses one book, the teacher chooses one for the child, and working together, they choose a third book. This is a simple yet effective way to give students the freedom they need to get to know themselves as readers while also providing the support they need to make good choices. Build time to read and share. Uninterrupted time to read—30 to 45 minutes at school and an hour at home each day—optimizes the benefits of independent reading. And then, too, students need time to talk and write about the books they are reading. Reader’s workshops, book talks, and literature circles provide rich opportunities to discuss and share books.
From a March 9 article in the Washington Post; see link on class wiki: [T]hese four action steps help guarantee successful implementation [of an independent reading program]: Guide and support. Kids learn best—no matter what they are learning—with sensitive guidance and instructional support. Independent reading is no different. Every day as her students settle into their books, renowned middle school teacher Nancie Atwell circulates around the room and quickly checks in with each student for an update on their independent reading, recording their responses in her whole class log. Plus, both she and they keep a variety of individual written responses to books, providing a comprehensive overview of every title each student reads (typically 40 or more across the year). This also enables her to track the volume of reading each student is achieving. Given all we know about what reading makespossible, our in-school independent reading programs may well be the most potent learning time of the day. We can’t afford to leave anything to chance.Nancie Atwellpossible Research indicates that when our students engage in habitual, critical, passionate independent reading —with books they choose to read— they are most likely to meet and exceed our highest academic expectations for them. Work together with your colleagues to prioritize reading and make independent reading a cherished habit at your school. As reading expert Ellin Oliver Keene says, “There is no greater impact on students’ reading growth than giving them time to read.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ1C4B0YVM8&feature=youtu.be Now that you’ve read at least a book a week for the past several weeks, let’s look one more time at what’s possible… Where’s your “belief factor” now, and why?
Multiple Literacies: Using Graphic Novels to Teach Visual Literacy (or, “They’re not just “picture books”!)
Reading graphic novels: elements.
Note how some pages advance the narrative without words Pay attention to visual features: body language, facial expressions
Note use of perspective, as well as light & shadow
Note how color can provide information or evoke emotions
Notice page layout
Of course, the skills used for reading graphic novels will also help students “read” a variety of other texts – especially with respect to the use of images, colors, layout ….
For next week: Read “YA Lit in the AP Classroom” article (wiki); Read a graphic novel