Many times when I’ve sat through professional development meetings I saw glazed looks in my co-workers eyes. My perceptive principal saw the same thing because she gave us some advice that seemed to cure this. She said, our goal during training should be to take away 2 ideas that we could incorporate in our classroom the next week. We start off with good intentions at these meetings, but after awhile our brain goes into overload which is when our eyes glaze over. It’s amazing how that little nugget of advice cured the glaze.
The same thing happens when I read professional books. These books are always packed with so many tips and tricks that I want to do all of them the very next day. My latest discovery is this book!
This book initially caught my eye because I could relate to the author. Yes, text-to-self connections aren’t just for your students! Donalyn talks about her love of books which mirrored my own experiences. As soon as I began reading it, I could see a hundred, Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, different things I wanted to do. Then I decided I wanted to narrow down my list to two.
A common frustrations of teachers is the lack of time in our day. Donalyn gives very practical ways to carve out time, time that you didn’t even realize you had, in your schedule for independent reading. She calls it “stealing reading moments”. For example, She trains her students to get out their books when there is a classroom interruption such as office personnel delivering messages, phone calls, and other typical events that occur at any school. One of the ideas I loved was having your students take their book with them on picture day. You have less discipline problems and you lose fewer academic minutes. It’s a win-win!
The second point I loved was choice. Students choose the books they will read and Donalyn sets the reading requirement. Her students must read 40 books, a minimum of 9 out of each genre, by the end of the year. Much of her reading instruction uses the books the students choose, rather than traditional reading curriculum. She said, “Readers without power to make their own choices are unmotivated.” How many of us have unmotivated readers in our class? This really hit home with me. I belonged to a book club that read a different genre each month. Honestly, there are some genres I do not enjoy reading. The month we read a book from my least favorite genre was torture for me. I knew I needed to read the book, but it just sat on my nightstand unread. It was quietly nagging me! Finally, a day or two before BOok Club night, I had a major cram session. This must be what my students feel like when I pick a book that they don’t like. Yes, it was another text-to-self connection for me.
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