I can relate to Miller’s account of her first year of teaching. I would rush through the first part of the quarter using the reading basel to ensure that the different skill got covered. Then, I would enjoy the remainder of the time in novel units. I couldn’t wait to share favorite books, like Stone Fox or Because of Winn-Dixie, that always brought tears to my eyes. But, like Miller, I was frustrated when students failed to match my excitement. They would struggle to answer questions, write detailed opinions, or even complete the “fun” culminating projects. What more could I do?
Then I remembered. When I was in elementary school, our television broke. My parents decided no more television. It was probably one of the best decisions, because I discovered my love for books. I read The Little House on the Prairie series over and over. I knew I’d grow up to marry a man like Almanzo. I always had a book in my hand and enjoyed spending time in the library to browse. I should have been the perfect reading student, but I wasn’t. In fourth grade, I would hide out in the bathroom as long as I could during reading class. In ninth grade, I distinctly remember thinking if only Mrs. Charkin would just leave us alone to enjoy the books assigned. I loved the books, but the questions and essays killed me. And here I was doing the same thing.
When my school started to emphasize self-selected reading for 30 minutes, I was on board. This was the answer, and it was going to be great to see children with their noses deep in books. But it didn’t happen. Students spent too much time switching books or hanging out at the shelves. Others just went through the motions or stared out in space. Why didn’t they want to just sit and read any book they wanted?
Can you relate? Do you have similar frustrations?
I can’t wait to read more about Miller’s experience and how her program works.