Share Your Reading Life

Mar 9, 2012 by

Are you an avid reader?  Many teachers are.  Some of us grew up with books and others became lifelong readers later in life.  If you are one of these people, do you use this to its fullest advantage as a literacy teacher?  If not, I encourage you to start!  When we share our reading lives with students we can: become reading role models for them model our own reading processes connect with our students as human beings, not just as teacher-student draw on our own experiences and use that information to teach during mini-lessons and individual conferences get kids excited about reading and the list could go on… This past week I’ve had two opportunities to share my reading life with some fourth-graders.  Their class just formed historical fiction book clubs.  On their first...

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But How Do I Give a Reading Grade?...

Feb 3, 2011 by

I have heard this question many times during the past several months.  I have been working with a number of teachers who are in various phases of implementing a workshop approach for reading and/or writing.  Most of us who have moved to a workshop approach have at some point asked this question and have had to reconcile  doing what we know is best for kids and fulfilling our obligation to report to parents and administrators where kids stand. When I am asked this question, I usually begin by clarifying the difference between assessing and evaluating our students.  For me, assessment takes place every minute of the day as I observe my students, listen to them, confer with them, watch them interact with text and other students, read what they have written, etc., etc. I...

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She remembers when…

Jan 23, 2011 by

My adopted fourth grade class, their teacher, and I recently finished our first unit of Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study for Teaching Reading.  The unit ends with a small celebration that turned out to be a neat experience.  During the minilesson the students were introduced to an excerpt of Paul Auster’s Invention of Solitude in which Auster shares memories of his childhood.  He uses a patterned type of writing in which every sentence begins with the phrase “He remembers…”. “He remembers learning how to tie his shoes.  He remembers that his father’s clothes were kept in the closet in his room and that it was the noise of the hangers clicking together in the morning that would wake him up.  He remembers the sight of his father knotting his tie and saying to him...

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You MUST Read This Book!

Dec 6, 2010 by

This morning I shared with a group of 4th grade readers that when I read a good book, the very first thing I want to do is tell someone about it.  Well, I just finished reading the most amazing book and I just HAVE to share it with you.  It’s called The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller.   It is sort of a professional book, but it reads more like a fast-moving novel. It’s written by a sixth grade teacher from Texas, but it’s applicable for teachers of all grade levels.  As I read this book, I felt as though I were reading my own life story as a reading teacher.  I could have written almost every word (except not nearly as well as Donalyn).  Some of...

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A Day with Lucy Calkins: What Do Musicians, Athletes, and Readers Have in Common?...

Nov 5, 2010 by

This week I had the opportunity to spend a whole day listening to Lucy Calkins talk about the teaching of reading.  It was such a rich day that I left with 11 pages of handwritten notes and a mind full of even more thoughts and ideas.  I often say that if I get one great idea at a workshop, it is worth attending.  This day left me with too many ideas to count.  I wanted to try to convey some of them to you, but as I look over my notes, I don’t even know where to start.  So I am going to just pick one thing to share today and save the others for some future blog posts. Partway through the day Lucy asked if there was an accomplished musician and an accomplished...

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Reading Workshop in the Primary Grades...

Sep 10, 2010 by

In my past two blog posts, I have mentioned Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study for Teaching Reading.  This is a brand new yearlong curriculum for grades 3-5.  Yesterday I received an e-mail from a reader asking if there is anything for the primary grades.  I haven’t heard yet if the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is working on publishing units of study for K-2, but I hope so!  Until they do, however, there are some wonderful materials that primary teachers can use to help them set up and implement a very effective reading workshop.  Many teachers are familiar with Debbie Miller’s book Reading with Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades.  It is most known for its lessons on the comprehension strategies, but it also includes a good overview of what reading workshop...

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