Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

My Favorite New Quote March 19, 2012

Filed under: reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:49 pm
Tags: ,

“Independent Reading is, in fact, not independent at all. It is actually interdependent.”

Love that- I think renaming it interdependent would help people realize it’s not just something to fill time with- it’s an essential part of instruction!

Calkins & Colleagues -A Curricular Guide for the Reading Workshop-Grade 4

 

Just my opinion, but…I hate AR (Accelerated Reader) March 9, 2012

Filed under: independent reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:33 pm
Tags: ,

This is just my opinion, but…I absolutely hate AR (Accelerated Reader)–always have, always will. At least I’m consistent and most people have had to hear me talk about this subject at nauseum. I’m bringing it back up again and here’s why. The past several weeks I have had conversations with one of my own children that have pained me greatly. I’ve managed to bite my tongue with the child, but on a personal and professional level, it was extremely difficult and I can’t keep quiet any longer. I have the research to back up my professional and personal beliefs, as well as personal experience.

I should give you the background that last quarter I took a hands-off approach to my child taking AR tests and he got 50 out of 200 possible points for the quarter–not a stellar result.

I am a fan of reading logs that go back and forth between home and school where students record how long they’ve read and how many pages. You can really learn a lot, both as a reader (or as a prying parent) by looking at how much they accomplish in a home setting compared to a school setting. You won’t always learn the same thing-some kids are consistent between home and school, some will spend 20 minutes “reading” at either home or school and only get 2 pages “read”, while accomplishing 12 at the opposite location. That tells me that at the 2 page location, the student is really distracted or just pretending to read.

I am also a fan of having individual reading conferences with students based on their independent reading and reading log. Not everyday mind you, no teacher is Superwoman, but on a regular basis which becomes even more frequent with reluctant or struggling readers.

So I’ve been riding herd daily on my child about their home reading, ensuring that they take the same independent reading book back and forth between home and school. We read with the child as a model in the same room, we listen to books on tape in the car, we have Kindles, bookshelves full of books, we have conversations about books compared to other books, books to life, etc.

I thought that I had dealt with the issue for this quarter, but based on these conversations, I have not. Here is a sample:

“Mom, I need to read a 11 point book so I have enough points for the quarter. I’m going to search 11 point books on the internet and see what I can pick from.”

“Mom, I need to check the name of a (certain minor) character in my book. The name of a character is the kind of question I am sure to be asked on an AR quiz.”

“Mom, do you know any 7 point books that I can read? Maybe I can buy one on the Kindle.”

me-What about that new series you were so excited to read and you started over the weekend? Child-“Well that doesn’t have enough points so I’m not going to be able to read that AND another book to have enough points for the quarter.”

“Mom, I know I picked out a book to read, but since it’s worth 14 points, I’m going to save it for next quarter because it gets me almost all my points for the whole quarter.”

Never once does said child talk about genre, reading interests, series, or any of the things I consider important and necessary. I’m worried about said child’s reading stamina, their love of reading (or more like their lack thereof), their exposure to multiple genres, some of which should include non-fiction.

In no way do I feel that the 10 AR questions said child is going to have to answer about any given book a good reflection of their comprehension. Nor do I feel that reading for points, pizza (Pizza Hut Book-it–hate it), or any other reward is necessary. Not that I’m above an old-fashioned bribe now and then, but for something so essential to success as an adult, no.

 

Check out this New York Times article about book choice and older kids August 31, 2009

Filed under: independent reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:11 pm
Tags: ,

The Future of Reading:

A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like

 

Post in Progress…continued from yesterday… June 25, 2009

Filed under: Calkins,reading,reading workshop,reluctant readers — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:36 am
Tags: , ,

 I am embracing the idea put forth by Lucy Calkins in The Art of Teaching Reading regarding independent reading-(Oops-you can tell I got distracted during writing. The reference to Calkins’ Chapter 17-September in a 2-8 Grade Reading Workshop: Reading with Stamina and Comprehension)-One of the sections is titled “Reading Easy Books with Understanding”. Calkins recommends that “every teacher of reading starts the year by steadfastly directing children toward reading a lot of easy book, and reading these books fluently and smoothly, with clear comprehension, and at a good pace” (p. 339). Calkins states that this is a TEMPORARY goal-I loved this section! It so clearly puts in words what I have known about students, but had a hard time explaining to parents who fret about their fourth grader loving Babymouse or insisting that they are ready to reading Twilight at the beginning of fourth grade.  Often parents’ sense of self is so tied to their child being a good reader that they have a hard time seeing the trees in the forest. This has continued to be a big issue every year I taught fourth grade.

Calkins also has a great section in this chapter about how often students use their desire to be a good reader by picking books to “read” that showcase their future selves, rather than their current reading selves. “Teaching children to read books they can understand with ease will have dramatic payoffs, so this is an especially effective lesson for the September of a reading workshop”. September also is when teachers should do everything possible to make sure that students are reading for “longer and longer stretches of time each day, and that they are making time for reading, and they begin, continue through, and complete books at a good pace. These are not small goals“.

Other really smart subsections of this chapter are:

Reading a Lot of Books with Stamina

Reading with Fluency

Reading with Friends

Celebrating Reading

Reading in a Way That Allows Us to Retell

Holding Readers Accountable to the Text

The last couple years teaching fourth grade I started the year with a read-aloud of The Field Journal (The Spiderwick Chronicles Book #1) by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. It was always a huge hit and has always gotten everyone from my most reluctant reader to the gifted students and everyone in between hooked on the series. For some it is the first book they have been excited about reading, for others they can read the whole series of five in a week.  The common thread-all students were excited about reading, reading with stamina, and reading with friends (I must have been channeling Lucy Calkins without knowing it :) ) . My classroom library collection included four copies of the first three books in the series and two or three of the other three. (It was tough springing for the same book, but I did find used copies very inexpensively on E-bay that I supplemented my collection).  

These two reasons are why I picked collections of “easy” books for classroom libraries that I knew did not already have Babymouse, 39 Clues, Diary of Wimpy Kid, and books that tie into a series such as Warriors or Septimus Heap.  

When I visited schools is New York City during my Spring Break, one of the principals had a “Book Club” where he would personally deliver a copy of a selected book to every classroom in the building, do a little book talk, and invite students to read the book and join him for a celebration. I’m sure you can guess how popular the program was! Students waited eagerly for their chance to read the principal’s book club book. He also did a GREAT job of selecting books that were hot off the presses or were part of a series. This is an idea worth emulating!

 

Books for Teachers June 24, 2009

Filed under: books,Calkins,independent reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:25 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I had the privilege (really read-giant blast) of purchasing books for teachers again. I’m not sure there is much greater fun for me in the world! These are books for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade independent reading within classrooms. 

AlvinHoHere are some of the newest gems I am so excited about:

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look

Mudshark by Gary Paulsen

The Kind of Friends We Used to Be by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino

Extra Credit by Andrew Clements

City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Billie Standish was Here by Nancy Crocker

Septimus Heap: The Magykal Papers by Angie Sage

 

 I am embracing the idea put forth by Lucy Calkins in The Art of Teaching Reading regarding independent reading-(Oops-you can tell I got distracted during writing. The reference to Calkins’ Chapter 17-September in a 2-8 Grade Reading Workshop: Reading with Stamina and Comprehension)-One of the sections is titled “Reading Easy Books with Understanding”. Calkins recommends that “every teacher of reading starts the year by steadfastly directing children toward reading a lot of easy book, and reading these books fluently and smoothly, with clear comprehension, and at a good pace” (p. 339). Calkins states that this is a TEMPORARY goal-I loved this section! It so clearly puts in words what I have known about students, but had a hard time explaining to parents who fret about their fourth grader loving Babymouse or insisting that they are ready to reading Twilight at the beginning of fourth grade.  Often parents’ sense of self is so tied to their child being a good reader that they have a hard time seeing the trees in the forest. This has continued to be a big issue every year I taught fourth grade.

Calkins also has a great section in this chapter about how often students use their desire to be a good reader by picking books to “read” that showcase their future selves, rather than their current reading selves.  

 

Here are some of the other titles I bought for their classrooms.

Percy Jackson and the Olympiads series by Rick Riordan

The Warriors: Code of the Clans by Erin Hunter

39 Clues Series   

Babymouse Series by Jennifer Holm

Castaways of the Flying Dutchmen series by Brian Jacques

The Mysterious Benedict Society #1 & #2 by Trenton Lee Stewart

Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism Series by Georgia Byng

Patricia Reilly Giff books

 

For my own reading pleasure I picked up When Readers Struggle by Pinnell and Fountas and plan on reading all the new books I can before giving them to the teachers in August. 

My daughter picked News for Dogs by Lois Duncan, the sequel to Hotel for Dogs and The Pocket Daring Book for Girls: Wisdom & Wonder by Andrea Buchanan. news for dogs

My son picked by Roscoe Riley Rules #6: Never Walk in Shoes That Talk by Katherine Applegate, Magic Tree House #34, and The Curious Boy’s Book of Adventure by Sam Martin. He is still obsessed with us reading all the Hardy Boy original books aloud to him, but he sometimes takes a break for other things :)

 

Reading toolbox January 17, 2009

 

 

img_1370

Click to play Kgn Reading Toolkit
Create your own photobook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox photobook
 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,319 other followers