Saturday, July 12, 2014

Reading in the Wild-Part 2 #cyberPD

I am absolutely excited that I can revisit this fabulous book and blog about my thoughts before I start back into another school year! After blogging about Reading in the Wild last week, it just reaffirmed for me what an asset Donalyn Miller is to the literacy community! 

Chapter 3- Wild Readers Share Books and Reading with Other Readers

How else can I start but to say I wholeheartedly agree with the line, "Children's future success depends on their acquisition of literacy skills." This line alone is why I do everything that I can as a teacher to hook my students on books. I want each and every one of my students to leave at the end of the year with either a love of reading or at least a greater appreciation for reading. 

Donalyn Miller write about the importance of fostering a strong school and home reading community. She gives many suggestions for making this happen and all of them have value! I love the idea of adding a weekly student book recommendation to your email signature. I might just have to try that this year. 

She also adds the importance of "carving out meaningful blocks of time for independent reading." She suggests at school and at home. I would much rather have my daughters reading for homework than answering "critical thinking questions" at the end of a story in a basal. (BTW-she hates when she has to do this for homework!) 

I also LOVED the section on the Benefits of Reading Communities. Donalyn mentions that reading communities, "foster connections with other readers, increase how much readers read, challenge readers to stretch themselves, improve readers' enjoyment and appreciation of what they read, encourage new suggested titles for reading, and encourage mindfulness about what you read and share with others." When I implemented book clubs this year in my class and an after school book club the excitement level about reading skyrocketed even more than before! Students were reading with the intent to share certain parts, students were talking about books before book club even started, and they were encouraging others to read along with them or to read a certain book as soon as they had a chance. It is one thing that I will not stop doing in my club has been such a positive experience for our classroom and has really encouraged discourse about books! 

The other thing that I started this year that was in Donalyn Miller's book was a graffiti wall. I saw it being used in a 6th grade teacher's classroom and I loved to read it and see what the students were writing from their books. After observing this graffiti wall in use for a few months, I decided to make my own after winter break. I love the deep thinking around this bulletin board and I love how it adds to the reading community and contributes to our LOVE of reading! This board really gets the students to think about what the author is saying and to pay attention to their own reactions to the author's words. Metacognition at its finest!

Chapter 4- Wild Readers Have Reading Plans

Having a plan is always important. Especially for those of us with Type A personalities. :-) This chapter is all about having a READING PLAN. Readers need plans and setting reading goals can be a great first step in forming a plan. We use data binders to set goals about our reading. We make lists of books that we would like to read and reflect on our progress toward meeting these reading goals. I try to give students ideas on how they can keep lists of "next reads" if paper and pencil doesn't work out for them. 

I love the section on conferring with readers and I love to read how other teachers conduct their reading conferences. I either learn new things or it reaffirms for me what I am already doing. I loved what Donalyn said about reading series books, "students who read series walk into each subsequent book with background knowledge from previous installments...their comprehension improves, which increases their confidence and reading enjoyment."  I found this to be key many times throughout the school year for hooking a student into books. If I could find a series that they loved and that they could continue with success, it motivated them and provided a lot of confidence for reading future books and putting them on the path to a love of reading. 

I also really focused on launching summer reading after reading this book this year. She gave lots of great ideas for launching summer reading.  I decided to host a book swap this year, have students complete book talks about books to inspire summer reading, make a list of summer reads, and track their books so that I could monitor their progress this summer. 

Once again, Donalyn Miller packs a lot of valuable information into these 2 chapters and a lot can be learned from reading her book and even rereading her book! 


  1. Megan,
    I love your idea of book clubs. Are they literature circles? How are students placed into groups and do you meet with them? Or is this book club all after school? Are you all reading the same thing? Really curious to hear more about what you are doing!

    After reading the chapter on Reading Plans, I began to reflect on how I try to encourage students to set reading goals. We use a "Someday List" and we share book commercials to add to our lists. I also promote reading challenges like our Book Over Break Challenge and our Summer Reading Challenge - read 10 by the 10th. These "school-based reading measures often impose external reading goals on students: required reading assignments, fluency targets, reading logs..." How do you encourage students to develop internal reading goals? What is happening in your classroom? Suggestions?

    1. Our book clubs are not literature circles. I have done away with the role sheets and filling out responses to a book. I organize my book clubs based on Steven Layne's book Igniting a Passion for Reading. I put the students in groups of 5-6 and they read their own book. I give them a question to think about while they are reading and then they get into groups after Read to Self and discuss their questions together. I take a lot of my questions from the SEM-R bookmarks.
      I then rotate through the groups over a period of time to check for engagement and to listen to their discussions.
      As for developing reading goals, we have data binders where we work on developing goals all year long. I really focus on having them create SMART goals and I teach SMART goals in depth throughout the year. I hope that helps!

  2. Megan,
    The significance of reading plans and having a community of readers to connect us with books caught my attention too. I appreciated all of the ideas you shared for making this happen. You said, "When I implemented book clubs this year in my class and an after school book club the excitement level about reading skyrocketed even more than before!" Interestingly, I started book clubs with my 1st graders this year too with the supportive help of our 5th grade reading buddies. Wowza! It had the same result in first grade. It makes me strongly consider the power of communities, connections, and ownership yet again.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm loving this conversation,

    1. I completely agree with your statement that it make you strongly consider the power of communities, connections, and ownership! Very true statement! I will do pretty much anything to get kids excited about reading! :-)
      Thanks Cathy!

  3. After reading your post, I think I am going to have to start a book club this year! I want my kids to be that excited! I'm only a second year teacher and I am trying to improve and change as much and as quickly as I can to help my students. I also have a graffiti wall ready for the school year. I am glad your kids really enjoyed it and that your neighbor's pulled you into doing one!
    Thank you for sharing your ideas and thoughts!

    1. I used Steven Layne's book Igniting a Passion for Reading to help me organize book clubs. Very inspirational book!

  4. Great thoughts, thanks for sharing! I would love to hear more about your graffiti wall as a teacher who has already implemented one. Did you just stick to quotations? How often did you find students referring to it as it went on? Thanks!

    1. The students had to find a quote that resonated with them from the book that they were reading. They had to write it on a notecard and conference with me about it. They had to tell me why it resonated with them and share their thoughts with me. Then I would let them write it up on the graffiti wall. The graffiti wall was right by the door so they would read it as they were in line or when they noticed a new posting. I did mine on black paper, but I might try white paper this year. Donalyn Miller writes more about Graffiti Walls in her books. Definitely going to continue this practice!

  5. Megan,
    I love your idea of after school book clubs! I'm going to have to search your blog and read more about that. One of my colleagues and I have tossed around that idea, but I'm curious to see how you structure it.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

    1. Laura,
      Thanks for the comments! I pick a book that I think that the students will be interested in and then I really hype it up. They have to either purchase the book or check it out from their local library. I then meet with the students after school about a month later to discuss the book. I supply snacks and juice and we meet for about 90 minutes. The kids love it!