In the "tornado" that has been my life since we came home from the beach, I have completely neglected my blog. I missed it. Seriously. I even stayed up until @ 1:00 a.m. so I could finish Chapter 6 and play "catch-up."
After reading Chapter 5, I have decided a couple of "truths" for myself. I may ruffle some feathers by saying this, but remember I included two very important words: for myself.
Personal Truth #1:
If you do not love reading and are not enthusiastic about it, I'm not sure teaching children to read is right for you. "I am not mandating an activity for them that I do not engage in myself... I want them to remember me as a reader." How are you going to inspire a love of reading? Why would you choose teaching? I'm sure I am preaching to the choir here, but I shudder at the thought of a "mechanical" reading teacher for children of any age. After all - "readers are made, not born."
Personal Truth #2:
We all need a reading improvement plan. I need to share more of my childhood experiences as a reader with my students. I need to read more children's literature. I need to ask my students for suggestions in order to connect with them as readers. I need to share my struggles with my students - when I'm laboring through a book, when I find words I don't know and when I completely abandon a book. I also need to do a better job of modeling my struggles with my own texts instead of trying to convince them that I struggle with third-grade materials. I need to "wear my love of reading proudly in front of (my) students every day."
Chapter 6 had me a little less fired up, but it still left me questioning a lot about my own reading teaching and practices.
Every year after testing while we are waiting to find out which students failed and need to retake the Reading portion of the test, we have this horrible intermittent period of time known as "remediation." Remediation consists of putting all of the children I fear may not have passed the test into one group and all of children I feel did well enough to pass into another group. (Note: This is not my idea.) The Scary Group gets three hours of intestive reading (read: test prep) instruction while the Not-So-Scary Group gets three hours of math instruction. That's right. I have one hour with my more capable readers. For the last two years, I've done a Charlotte's Web unit.
Now, I do use a shared reading approach to this where students all have their own copy as we read a chapter or two a day. But what Donalyn wrote about these class novel units struck a nerve with me. It always seems to move painfully slow, and by the end of the unit this year I was sick of it. Can you imagine being sick of one of your all-time favorite books? It was terrible! I've already decided to "repent" and make it a regular read-aloud next year. I can still do some of the fun arsty-fartsy stuff with the kids, but I can see how I am losing precious minutes of reading time. Especially when I only have an hour with one of my groups.
I am curious to see how everyone else feels about reading logs after reading Chapter 6. After reading Donalyn's thoughts about them, I'm really struggling with whether or not to continue using them. I change the way my kids respond every 9 weeks. I'll share them with you today. I know I'm going to take out the "parent signature" requirement part of them, but I still want to see my kids responding to what they read at night. I'm only asking for a sentence or two at most. My teaching partner and I are using Homework-opoly next year, so there will still be accountability for homework. I'm just not sure if reading logs will be a part of it.
I'd love to hear your thoughts! If you've read through all of my rants, you deserve these freebies! HA! ;-)
Reading Log 1.0
Reading Log 2.0
Reading Log 3.5 Common Font
Reading Log 4.0