Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Book Whisperer: Chapter 2

I am excited to be linking up again this week to talk about Chapter Two of The Book Whisperer. If you have not checked out this book by Donalyn Miller, you need to! Read on to find out why! :) 


When I jumped into reading chapter two, I told myself that I was going to make sure that everything that I found meaningful in this chapter I would write down and then figure out how to apply each idea to a first grade classroom. There is so much relevance in Donalyn Miller's words and I didn't want to lose any of that in making the translation from her sixth grade classroom to my first grade one.

The first thing that Mrs. Miller wrote that really resonated with me was that ALL students are readers-they just have varying levels of readiness and interest. This is something that I see so much with my beginning readers! There are those that start off my year with an eagerness to read any book that they can get their hands on, and those that look like they might cry just from looking at the cover of a book. This last year I had the widest range of readers I have ever seen- some coming into my class as first graders reading on a third or fourth grade level (CRAZY!) and some that didn't even know their first 20 sight words.
Mrs. Miller's words spoke so much truth when she said that "Embracing their inner reader starts with students selecting their own books to read." She then goes on to say "Providing students with the opportunity to choose their own books to read empowers and encourages them." (Page 23)
This idea is SO important! In order to have the passion and drive to students, students need to be interested in what they are reading. This first step that we can make as primary teachers is allowing them the freedom to pick up the books that THEY want to read, not the books that WE want to put in their hands.

Throughout the next part of chapter 2, Mrs. Miller went on to introduce the three different trends that she sees in readers- developing readers, dormant readers, and underground readers.
As I was reading through this section, I couldn't help but think about how much POWER there would be in identifying readers in this way at such an early age-to truly see them for the readers that they are and learning how to encourage every type of reader to grow.

Developing readers- Reading this section truly struck me hard. Mrs. Miller calls attention to the fact that these readers are often the readers who are placed in remedial programs to help improve their reading-yet they are the readers who receive the least amount of time to actually just read! When I thought about those readers in my class last year, I couldn't help but think about how true that was. One thing that I want to make sure I apply from this book is her idea that these students need to have books in their hands MORE, not less than other students. Mrs. Miller says "What they need is support for where they are in their development and the chance to feel success as readers instead of experiencing reading failure. They also need to read and read." (Page 25) Want to make a non-reader a reader? Let them read!

Dormant readers- Growing up my younger sister didn't like to read. She was a strong reader and would read what she HAD to, but while I always loved curling up with a book for pleasure, she never did. One summer my mom asked me to "please help your sister love reading." And so I began my mission to find the books that would make my sister want to read. I vaguely remember a time when I would pick a book and sit and read a few chapters out loud before she would be interested enough to keep reading on her own. Eventually she started to see how much fun it was to get lost in the world of a good book. Once she found the right stories, there was no stopping her.Today my sister is one of the biggest book lovers I know. She works in a bookstore and has a library in her bedroom that might make even Belle jealous (A bookworm's obvious choice as best Disney princess)!
 This to me is what dormant readers are-they are the students that need us to help them learn to love reading. Mrs. Miller said it perfectly when she wrote, "dormant readers might become engaged readers if someone showed them that reading was engaging." (Page 28)

Underground readers- "While teachers scurry to support students who are still developing their reading skills and wonder what they can do to motivate the dormant readers who do not like to read, underground readers are a subset whose needs go unaddressed. These children are the ones who come into our classes as avid readers." (Page 30) I want to make it a goal this year to not let these students get away from me. I want to learn how to both encourage and challenge even the very best readers, to not leave them underground.

After going through the different types of readers, Mrs. Miller shares about what she has learned about conditions for learning. The factors that she notes on are: immersion, demonstrations, expectations, responsibility, employment, approximations, response, and engagement. While Mrs. Miller goes into more detail for each of these factors, I think her final words of this chapter sum it up well.

"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." (Page 37)

If you made it this far, then I'm glad you stuck with me. I get so excited about reading about reading that I could go on and on about it!
I am learning so much from this book and can't wait to keep reading and growing and working on finding ways to apply what I am learning to my kiddos next year.

If you are reading along, I can't wait to see what you have to say about chapter 2! Make sure you link up to share your thoughts!