This book is one of the BEST I have ever read-TWICE! Yes, I read The Book Whisperer last year and have read it again! Our book study, however, is on chapter 4 this week: “Reading Freedom”. Hmmm, freedom, that is a term that you don’t hear too much of in the classrooms nowadays with all of the mandated “research based” scripted programs that are thrown at us. I, however, think that the states/nation need to start looking at “teacher research based” structures because that is where the true EVIDENCE is! 🙂
Donalyn Miller, the author of The Book Whisperer, is a dynamic 6th grade teacher who practices this reading freedom in her classroom each day. Choice is what it is all about!
I have to admit that last year (my first year in 6th grade with a mandated reading program) I did require the 40 book requirement and the genre requirement that Ch. 4 discusses, but I didn’t keep a check on it like I should have! I also didn’t give my students enough time to read EVERYDAY in the classroom so I only had 4 students who met the requirement out of 38!!! I was so disappointed, but now looking back at it I should just be disappointed in myself. You have to admit, most 6th graders are not lovers of reading by the time they reach me. In fact they are sick of it, and some even downright hate it! Sigh….. One thing that I DID do that really worked was to NOT implement the AR programs that the other teachers require. I told my kids they could read ANYTHING they wanted to-picture books, books below their grade level, books above their grade level. The restriction for that was that if the book was less than 40 pages they would have to read 5 of them to count as 1 book, while at the same time if the book was more than 250 pages it would count as 2 books.
The freedom of letting them read anything they wanted to did result in a few of my boys falling in love with a couple of books-Sounder, Hatchet, and Where the Red Fern Grows. I was extremely happy about that! 🙂
Rolling along to this upcoming year here is what I plan on doing:
1. Allow time for independent reading EACH day-I am going to implement The Daily 5 and CAFE this year so the kids will have plenty of time to read while I work with small groups and confer individually.
2. Encourage students to read during any downtime(in line and all waiting events)– They already do this when they finish with something before other students finish, but I am going to take it to the next level!
3. Create “rights of readers” list with the kids– My kids were astonished last year when I said-If you don’t like a book and just can’t get into it-TURN IT IN! They couldn’t believe that I had done that before and was giving them the “reading freedom” to do that! 🙂
4. 40 Book Requirement– I am going to require this again (with PLENTY of time to read in class). I am going to also let them know that I will be doing the 40 book requirement as well along with them. I am even going to keep my own notebook and do EVERYTHING that I require them to do with this requirement: reading log, genre tally sheet, response letters. What do you think they are going to say about this???? 🙂
5. Give them a genre requirement– I am going to alter Donalyn’s genre requirement a bit since poetry is not all over our state standards. Here is what my genre requirement will look like (I think). 🙂
Informational-2(They will probably meet this requirement by reading mostly children’s literature picture books so 10 of these will meet the 2 required)
Books recommended by friends-2
6. Really have my kids study the genre characteristics– Donalyn does several things that expose her kids to different genres and teaches them the genre characteristics-check out pages 92-93 for her genre note sheet.
This chapter really hits the mark on “reading freedom” which is the backbone of getting the kids to read more, read often, and LOVE reading! I can’t wait to get to the next chapter (for the 3rd time :)) on the reading notebooks.
I just created a new page on my blog for READING TOOLS. This will be a place where I put links and upload documents for things like:
reading surveys, reading logs, reading genre posters, etc. I will continually be updating this page so hop on over to see if there’s something you can use! 🙂
This was my 1st year teaching 6th grade so I wasn’t really sure at the beginning what I wanted to do with independent reading. I read The Book Whisper by Donna Miller and decided to set a goal of 40 books for the year. Well, of course I didn’t provide them with the time in class to read indpendently because we focused so much on Scott Foresman so I only had 4 students out of 38 that met or exceeded their goal. They were 4 girls that loved to read anyway! 🙂 Here are pictures of 3 of them holding their U.S. map with 40 or more states colored in to represent total books read.
Next year I am going to set the goal at 50 or more books. However, I am going to implement The Daily 5 (or Daily 2, maybe) and CAFE in my classroom which means they are going to have A LOT more time in class to read independently. I can’t wait!! 🙂
I am also going to change some of the genre requirements for what they read independently from what I had them do this year. AND-their entire reading notebook is going to be restructured!!!