Book Whisperer-Ch 2

Everybody is a reader!  Don’t you just love that statement.  But, do we believe it?  Miller certainly does.  To acknowledge gives merit.  “The idea that they can’t read or don’t like to read is not on the table.”

As I read this chapter, several things hit home.

1.  The importance of CHOICE.  It empowers, encourages, strengthens self-confidence, rewards interests, promotes positive attitude, MOTIVATES.

2.  I was able to picture faces of former students that fit into each type of reader: developing, dormant, and underground.  Since labeling is a reality, I love these labels so much more.

3.  Developing readers have the ability to become strong readers, need real reading experiences, and need to feel success.

4. Dormant readers are just as unmotivated and uninterested in reading because they have not embraced reading that allows a person to escape to other worlds and live vicariously through the characters.  Many  of these readers are ignored because they can pass the test.  What a crime!

5.  Got to love the underground reader who are just waiting for the teacher to get out of their way so they can just read.

Now that I am all for choice and want my students to read all the time, there are questions.

1. “If I am not going to quiz them on every book and monitor their every reading move, how will I control reading for them?”

2.  According to the “Conditions of Learning,” I need to teach daily reading lessons using authentic texts, conference & discuss students’ readings daily, and require written response letters.  What should these lesson cover?  (In other words, where is the manual?)  How do you find time to do this daily?  What are written response letters?

3.  I was so impressed with Miller’s ability to recommend books on the spot as well as having books on their desk to preview on the second day of school.  One word.  How?  How can I be even somewhat knowledgeable about books?

What are your thoughts and questions?



Filed under The Book Whisperer Discussion

15 responses to “Book Whisperer-Ch 2

  1. We did teach mini-lessons…but this is an area where I wanted to improve. My favorite lessons were on genres…after learning about each genre, we kept a pile of books in the middle of the table of each group. Students were then asked to read the backs of the books, the inside covers, and browse the books. As a group they would have to decide what the genre was and give us reasons to support their thinking. The “final” assessment was each individual child, a bucket of books, sticky notes with the title of each genre, and the teacher. Students had to sort the bucket, place a sticky note on each one, and then explain why they chose that genre. Doing this at the beginning of the year really helped form our conversations throughout the year.

    Another think we did was ask students to write in their reading journal one or twice a week. We asked deep, thought-provoking questions…many times questions that corresponded with the mini-lesson. Here are a couple of examples:
    *Describe at least two important relationships in your book. If you were in this story…what would your relationship be with the main character? Describe.
    *One of the strongest human drives seems to be a desire for power. Discuss how a character in your reading struggles to free him/herself from the power of others or seeks to gain power over others. How did the author use this power struggle to enhance the meaning of the work?

    (I would be happy to email a list I have collected from our assignments this year).

    The one place I also wanted to improve was with discussion. The kids love talking about what they are reading, so if I were in the classroom next year, I wanted to post one of these questions and have the students discuss how it applied to their book with a small group. This would be another way students would peak interest in other books.

  2. Scarlett Perry

    After reading chapter 2, I was reminded of how we/educators tend to put conditions on reading. For example, if you do this…., this will happen. However, over the last few years, I always have “book club discussions” in my classroom. The focus of the book club discussions were for students to
    have the opportunity to choose different books–but similar genres; each student was able to discuss his/her book with the book club.
    to have the

  3. Scarlett Perry

    I apologize, my computer is acting up, but to continue with my response, I agree, we/educators tend to define success based upon standardized testing. However, as emphasized in pages 34-35, teachers who create a reading environment that emphasizes personal discovery instead of achievement, will ultimatley induce reading achievement.

    • Mollie

      Scarlett, I like your “book club discussions” idea. Could you give me some details about how you did it? Did you ask questions orally? Did they respond in a journal? Were they “assigned” to a book club?

  4. I requested (ok, I was pretty determined) and was allowed to use reader’s workshop for the high group in third grade last year. This seems similar to her ideas. My school has required us to use direct instruction for our whole 90 minute reading block. I did mini lessons on a topic and then the high group read. Now I want to move to the format she is presenting for all of my students. I love her idea or choosing books for the first thing they do. I will do that this year. Scarlet, are you saying everyone is in the same genre at the same time? If so, do you allow them to read their own preferred genres some of the time?

  5. Katie

    It seems like developing a list of books to recommend would be slowly learned over time–I’m sure she didn’t have the vast pool of book recommendations when she first started. Part of it would be listening to the students’ recommendations. I love when she says, “I decided to listen to what my students needed and not tell them what I thought they needed to hear” (22).

    This chapter also made me think about writing. Writing, like reading, has opened worlds for me. I have always been an “underground writer”; even in college I would write letters and journal entries during class! I wonder if a similar strategy would work for developing and dormant writers–allowing children to write about the things they enjoy?

    • Mollie

      The way I was taught to teach writing in a workshop approach by Katie Ray does exactly that. She is the BEST teacher of writing. Look for her books.

  6. Donna Beck

    I have found in my years of teaching, how important it is to show my love of reading. Almost everyday, before self selected reading, I show a few books and give a brief description of them, incorporating different genres. I make the book exciting, and share how the book gave me insights. If students have read the book, or a similar book, or a book by the same author, they join in on the discussion. The books are displayed on top of the book shelves, and almost always, they are checked out the same day! As a teacher, it is extremely frustrating when you know a student can read, but won’t. This chapter gave me a lot of insight, as these students really are often ignored. I also keep a chart on the wall of different genres, for students to write brief book recommendations on it for other students. On the chart I write “Ask me about this book!” , and students write their name after the recommendation. I agree with Esther, that students are labeled, whether we like it or not, and these labels are so much better!

  7. Donna Beck

    I like the interest inventories! I used to have students fill them out, but found that often, beginning fourth graders were limited to what they could spell, and many times I couldn’t decipher it when I read it later. Now, I like to spend a few minutes with each child one on one and help them fill it out, probing for further explanations. I love the idea of placing books on the students’ desks!

    • Mollie

      I was thinking the same thing, Donna. I do a simple inventory. But I would like to find out more. I could do it as an interview for my students who don’t have the reading and writing skills to fill out the inventory.

  8. Mollie

    This chapter was great. I loved how she explained how she changed her thinking. It’s all about the students’ interests and needs, and about listening and paying attention to them. I loved the “book frenzy” she described where students were excited about choosing books. I plan to do this at the beginning of the year. She was right on about the importance of choice. We don’t give students enough opportunities to choose books or activities. We also don’t give them enough time to read. This is crazy. I was struck by her comment about students who do not read well see reading as a talent that they do not have rather than as an attainable skill. I see that so often in my special education students. By fourth grade they are so defeated my failure on state tests and/or classroom assignments and tests. I so want them to see themselves as readers. I had a student last year who was well below grade level. He told my early on in the year that he could not read. We worked hard and by the end of the year he made some progress. Although he was still below grade level, he was beginning to see that he was a reader and could read. It was so exciting. I want all my students to see the importance of reading. The negative labels don’t help. I like how she reframed them to more positive terms. Most of my students are developing readers. I look forward to see how she addresses them. I was also interested in how she discussed the classroom environment or community where all students are accepted and encouraged to do their best.

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