Wow, what an inspiring book! As you can tell, I read the majority of this book today. Here are my thoughts about chapters 5-7 and the final "whisper" about the end of the year evaluations. These thoughts may also be about the book as a whole. Please give me a few days/weeks to digest this terrific book before asking me how I'll bring it into my classroom.
- Chapter 5 was all about serving as the reading role model for your class. I particularly enjoyed her student's quote at the beginning of the chapter: "I feel really bad about all those good books out there waiting for me to read them" (p. 105). That Parker seems like a funny kid. I feel like I'm doing a good job with this. I am an avid reader, and I love nothing more than sharing a box of new loot from Scholastic with my students. Often, I'll bring a book with us while we are moving down the hallway. I recently engaged in a conversation with a few of my students about how hilarious a book I had ordered was. (In case you were wondering, that book was The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz, and I think you should definitely read it and then share it with your students.)
- Chapter 6 discussed common reading activities employed by teachers and schools and suggested alternatives. For those of you that like to just "get to the point" in your professional reading, this is definitely the "practical applications" chapter of the book. I appreciate that Miller offers compromises to the whole-class novel approach vs. teaching readers, not books. I'm honest enough to say that I'm currently doing basal stories every 2 weeks or so with my class. I appreciate her suggestions to read the book aloud, share-read the book, etc., and I'm proud to say I'm already doing most of those things. I think that by moving toward the CAFE approach espoused by the 2 sisters, I can better approximate Miller's model as well (teach skills with student-selected texts).
- Instead of comprehension tests (another reading evil, rampant in schools and classrooms, including my own), Miller recommends testing reading as a genre. I think that this is a bit mature for 2nd graders, and I agree with Miller that book reports are not the answer. I'm intrigued by book commercials, and I think they'd be especially great speaking practice for my ELLs. Do any of you do book commercials with your students? Do you grade/assess them? What do you require/how do you assess your students' book commercials?
- Again, I'm guilty of using reading logs, although I totally see Miller's point that these are completely fabricated at times. I have been intrigued with a reading requirement, but I don't know that I'd have a genre requirement built into it for 2nd graders. Do you use reading logs? Do you have a reading requirement for your students?
- Round-robin/"popcorn" reading: Oops, guilty again. I have read about the dangers/ineffectual nature of this practice in whole group as well as guided reading situations. However, I do give students time to partner read, and I like the idea of pairing students of similar reading levels. I also play stories on CD for my students.
I'm not going to recap/discuss extensively the reading evaluations Miller does at the end of the year, nor am I going to discuss chapter 7 in great detail. The reading evaluations are powerful support for Miller's methods, but again, I feel they'd be too daunting as is for my 2nd graders. The final chapter serves as a good wrap-up of the book, painting a picture of Miller's methods as opposed to the prevalent reading instruction methods and the enduring effect of the former.
As you can hopefully tell, I really enjoyed The Book Whisperer. For those of you that didn't know, Donalyn Miller is coming out with another book tomorrow (lucky us!!!), Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits. Will you be buying her next book?
That's all for now (3 posts in a weekend-yikes!). Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with the 3rd installment of the My Truth linky series.