Monday, October 13, 2014

The Book Whisperer : Chapter 4

Missed a few chapters?  Read from the beginning : 

The Book Whisperer.png

Are you as excited as I am to read on about Chapter 4? Seriously, so many ideas are going through my head and I can't wait to get back in the classroom and let my students READ! I was doing it ALL wrong before - "forcing" them to at least finish the book, always telling them to put it away, that it wasn't time to read, etc... Things are going to CHANGE in my classroom! What about yours?

Reading Freedom

This was the chapter I was waiting for! I loved reading the previous chapters and learning all about the why but now we're getting into the how. How does she make it work? How does she get her students all excited? How does she do this and other stuff in her classroom?

Now, I can't tell you everything, because that wouldn't be fair to Donalyn Miller, but I can tell you that this book is worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY! Seriously. I have bought many educational resources in the past, but this is the only one that has ever gotten me this excited. This one makes sense, through and through.

Anyway.. I was saying...

Chapter 4 talks about the how. Throughout the book, you can tell that Miller much prefers discussions and anchor charts to worksheets and notes with her students.

The chapter starts with Miller in the front of her classroom, chart paper ready and marker in her hand and she's asking her students how readers choose a book for themselves.  She gets the typical answers (you know the ones - the ones the students have memorized from years of telling them exactly what we want them to say), then she throws them a curve ball : "Who has chosen a book because it is short? Who has chosen a book to read by checking how long it is?"

HA!  Can you imagine!  The funny thing is that I've done it too.  We probably all have.  Sometimes we just don't want to read that super long novel with itty bitty writing.  Sometimes we want a quick read.  

And that opens up the flood gates - students start realizing that "cheating" is ok!  It's ok to choose a book because it looks easy, or because the pictures are pretty, or because you read the ending first and it seemed interesting.  

What if that one student pipes up and says that books are boring?  Of course SOME books ARE boring!  Have you ever had a book that you just weren't able to complete?  It didn't grab you?  And guess what - that's ok!  It's ok to put it down and start a new one!

In this chapter, Miller also discusses her 40-book requirement and why she chose this number.  But to properly set the stage, Miller spends a lot of time at the beginning introducing all genres to her students.  They discuss, they debate, they wonder and they discover.  In her 40-book requirement, she requires students to read a certain number from different genres (for example, 5 poetry anthologies, 2 historical fiction, 2 mystery).  This can change year to year, especially depending on what students are interesting in (the mystery requirement was added after a certain classroom requested it).  

She also discusses her Reader's Notebook.  This notebook is comprised of 4 parts : Tally list (the requirements), Reading list (what they've read), Books-to-read list (what they want to read) and Response entries (where they write letters and reflect, and Miller responds in an authentic way).

There's so much going on in this chapter, it's impossible to touch on it all, but let me tell you, it's FANTASTIC!  I even read ahead a little bit because I was so interested (and I try not to do that before I've written the blog post!)

This week, my freebie is an amazing product!  I'm offering you templates for your own Reader's Notebook.  Now we're already on chapter 4 (of 7) and don't forget that these freebies are only available during this blog hop book study, and then they become a paid product, so make sure to grab your copy today (and leave feedback!)

Yeah, I learned a lot in this chapter!  I learned that I made a lot of mistakes in the way I was implementing independent reading in my classroom.  But the good news is that now I know better :)

Read Chapter 5