First, let me say what a pleasure it is to join this group of amazing teachers for #cyberPD this summer! I just joined the Twitter/blogging community early this year, and the opportunities to grow and reflect as an educator with like-minded individuals have literally blown me away. I've been challenged, encouraged, and pushed in ways I never imagined possible! This experience is proving to be no different.
As a third-year 6th grade teacher (6 years in 3rd grade prior to that), I am particularly interested in the personal reflections and stories that Donalyn (Can I call her that?!) shares. They remind me of my own students and allow me to very easily insert my own classroom into the narrative without any adjustments.
Before I began the book, I admit I approached with skepticism, wondering how much would "really" apply to the unique and always-changing 6th grade mindset.
I also admit that I was wrong. Completely.
This book is real.
No sugar-coating here. I appreciate how she doesn't shy away from the issues we face everyday or pretend she doesn't have them herself. The tone of the book doesn't talk down to "the rest of us"; she's in the trenches, too, and provides real and current solutions to the problems that exist in the reading classroom. I literally sighed with relief when I got to the "fake reader" section. Thank God I'm not the only one! And then the suggestions to help tackle issue-- priceless!
To be honest, it didn't take me long to be challenged in this book. The introduction (pg. xviii) states a truth that I have grappled with for years, but haven't had the courage to address:
"If my students were truly independent readers, why did they still need a teacher to orchestrate their reading lives?"
I hate that.
But it's so, so true. I can choose to live with the blinders on and pretend that the habits we build in Room 606 will last forever, or I can be real with myself. Truthfully, most of my kiddos that move on to 7th grade do not have "wild reader" hearts that will last beyond the micro-reality that is my reading/language arts room. I know this.
So in response to these two chapters, I've decided to make a Top 10 List of my questions, my to-dos, my think-more-abouts, and my new understandings. I could make it a Top 100 very easily--there's that much-- but I'll spare you. Here goes!
1. A guiding truth: "...children who read the most will always outperform children who don't read much." (introduction, pg. xix) So, so true. I can't fail at this.
2. A question: How can I fit in more time for kids to share, converse, and socialize about books? 6th graders need this. They crave that sense of belonging described on page 9 and a reading community can provide that.
3. I am the "lead reader" in my room. I talk about my reading, but not enough.
4. Reading doesn't always fit in the school box. (i.e. Sarah's reading life on pg. 2)
5. I need to teach not just the skill of reading, but the skill of making time to read. (pg. 7) I deal with this every day in 6th grade--"There's just no time, Miss Collins!" Reading on the edge has to become a reality for all of us. We're going to make a list of places we were bored like her class did on page 14. It's a concrete way to make the point.
6. As a 1:1 Chromebook classroom, I loved the online reading response ideas (pg. 34). My kids are very into this right now.
7. I am working on my Reading Workshop "wish list" as outlined on pg. 38--what can I do to make the most of the time that I have everyday?
8. How can I provide more online reading opportunities? Maybe wonderopolis.org? (pg. 51)
9. I want to start my year with a "favorite read aloud" sharing time (pg. 53). LOVE this idea.
10. I've looked for a way to keep my library organized and to perfect a check-in/check-out procedure. Perhaps classroom.booksource.com is the answer I've been looking for! (pg. 82)
So, new #cyberPD friends, I'm sorry if my post missed the boat. I'm not exactly sure what a "reflection" should look like in the forum, but I did my best. I hope that this provides some insights into what I've been wondering about as I read, and I look forward to interacting with all of you during this coming month!