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Monday, November 3, 2014

The Book Whisperer - Chapter 7

This week is Chapter 7, the last chapter, of our book study on "The Book Whisperer" by Donalyn Miller. 

If you don't have the book already,  you can grab it here.  It's not too late to grab the book and read back through the wonderful posts from everyone.

This chapter is called "Letting Go". 

The one thing that stuck out to me in this chapter was this line, "I have been told many times, both to my face and through comments on my blog, that I am not preparing my students for the "real world" by letting them read whatever they want" p166.  

This rang so true to me.  We (my EA's and I) have throughout the years not been supported (at times) in our views on reading instruction.  

Does a child need to know the whole alphabet in order to learn how to read?

  If a child is not "getting" certain letters do you drill, drill, drill until they do?  

Because part of our mandate is to take children who have just had surgery. I have had older students come to me for a short time.  Often, they have been unable to read even level one books (and hating it) and having not mastered the alphabet yet (I'm talking grade 3 or 4).  

Each year on their IEP is "knows 15 letters working on the rest",  then the following year "knows 17 letters working on the rest" etc. You get the picture. They would be in high school before they knew the whole alphabet.
  Do we start teaching them how to read then?  

In the 8 weeks of reading instruction in my class these children often jump to level 4 or above and are actually asking to choose books and to read to me. 

 Unfortunately I only have these students for a short time  after surgery before they return to their home schools. 

I know the endless drills are not working.  Does that mean that I don't work on the alphabet or phonics? No, but I work on them in the context of activities and books and real time practice.   We read, read, and read the sight words we have practiced in real books.

Each of my students have the opportunity to choose a book they want to read and then read it to me everyday. They then take it home and read it to parents.  This takes up a huge amount of my time and I've often wondered if I should stop and just have the children take the book home or maybe even pick the book for them and send it home to save on time.

 I now realize that I can't do that.  That the time they spend reading in my class has an impact on their reading levels and their motivation.   I know that the children argue about who comes to read to me first.  I hope this means I'm doing something right.

I hope you have enjoyed our reflections on the book.  Here are more links to chapter 7.

Last one:


Unknown said...

Your post rings true to me with one student this year. We are trying a new approach with more listening to reading and technology assisted reading and hoping that it helps her to pick it up quicker. Any suggestions?

Barbara said...

It sounds like you're doing exactly "something right"!
The quote you highlighted is kind of mind boggling. How can letting kids read books of their choice be construed as "not preparing students for the real world"? Hmm, some strange and odd thoughts out there.

Sandi said...

Reading self selected books makes reading meaningful. Learning the alphabet and phonics through books and activities makes that learning meaningful. Logical to some of us ...