Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Discovering Preferences: #cyberPD Week 3

The #cyberPD conversation continues to grow.  Today we are discussing chapters 5 of Donalyn Miller's book:  Reading in the Wild.
  • Chapter 5:  Wild Readers Show Preferences
  • Coda
  • Appendix 
Stop by Michelle Nero's blog today, Literacy Learning Zone, for today's discussion. 

To Participate:

Preferences and Wild Readers
Reading in the Wild
Reflecting on the young readers in my classroom last year, I still smile when thinking about their preferences.  There were students who read by authors, some who preferred characters, and others who read widely within topics.  There were those who preferred familiar books and those always on the lookout for something new.  Even as primary readers, there are those who get caught up in series (I might be using this term a little loosely):  Cat the Cat, Elephant & Piggy, Pete the Cat, Fly Guy, Henry and Mudge, Poppleton, Rainbow Magic, Junie B. Jones, and even nonfiction series such as National Geographic Readers Series among others.  I could easily list the names of students who preferred fiction and those who were all about nonfiction.

When talking about reading preferences, "social readers" cannot be overlooked.  In my opinion there are three kinds of social readers, there is the "compliant social reader."  This reader reads whatever his/her friend is reading, providing little input into book selection, not demonstrating the same satisfaction with the book as the lead reader, and doesn't take these reading selections into his/her personal reading life.  I worry about this reader a bit, but if I take the time to determine the motivation behind this behavior next steps are easier to find.  There's the "friendly reader."  This reader loves to join groups and talk about books.  She/he is often sitting beside friends ready to listen to discussions about books and use these discussions to shape personal reading.  This reader selects books to discuss them with friends, share discoveries, and be a part of the group.  The "lead reader" is someone everyone comes to for book advice.  If the lead reader wants a book, it is most likely the book will become a hot title in the classroom library.  All three of these readers thrive on the social aspect of their reading lives.  It is the social interaction that brings them into the process and keeps them in "next books."

In the last ten years of my teaching, I've become more aware of the need to discuss reading preferences and their importance in building a reading life.  As I read Donalyn's book, I realized there still is need for me to look beyond the school day and link these conversations to reading outside of school.  Finding opportunities across the year for short "reading preference" surveys, might be an interesting way to look back at the end of the year to see how our reading lives have grown and build plans for the summer with greater purpose.

Beyond Preferences 
Finding friends who share preferences can help us know who students can talk to when finding next books.  I'm always trying to find ways to turn readers back toward each other as it seems the advice of a peer carries more power in moving forward.  It also builds those connects which might help in the years following our time together in our classroom.  Understanding preferences supports readers in finding next books, but it also opens the door to conversations about filling our reading gaps and trying something new.  When I think about those readers who get stuck in an author, character, or genre, it seems knowing preferences can help us to find those next titles and work toward balancing our reading more.

Next Steps
As I think about working with developing readers in the upcoming school year, Donalyn has made me think about the significance of helping them to build a reading life that extends beyond our school day.  In relation to preferences, ideally in the first weeks of school as I hope to work beside students in their classrooms and discover their preferences and habits as readers.  In the first weeks I will do this in a survey, but also by watching the choices they make and their social interactions within their workshops.    In the following months, I would like to quickly follow up on these preferences to look for signs of growth and change.  As students transition away from support, I will want to make sure students have in place reading habits  and connections that will help them continue to move forward independently.

Here's a form, adapted from experience and the many points shared by Donalyn Miller in her books, that I hope to use in the first weeks.  My plan is to link the form in Evernote and then complete it in beginning conversations with readers.  It's still in progress, but here's what I envision:

Scheduled #cyberPD Events.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Developing Wild Readers: #cyberPD Week 2

The #cyberPD conversation continues to grow.  Today we are discussing chapters 3 and 4 of Donalyn Miller's book:  Reading in the Wild.

  • Chapter 3:  Wild Readers Share Books and Reading with Other Readers
  • Chapter 4:  Wild Readers Have Reading Plans
Stop by Laura Komos's blog today, Ruminate and Invigorate, for today's discussion. 

To Participate:
After three previous years of participation I can tell you I am amazed by how much I learn as I move from blog to blog.  I value the varying perspectives from other colleagues joining the conversation. Because it is the conversation that matters, I suggest reading and commenting on at least three other posts each week.  

Connected Communities 
Donalyn shares a quote by Jeff Wilhelm (loc 1760) that will stay with me awhile this year, "What's your bottom line?  What do you really want to happen for your students?  Now, how does what you do every day serve that bottom line?"  When I think about my upcoming work alongside students needing extra support as readers, I am continually drawn back to this idea of the significance of reading community.  If I want these students to become passionate about reading, I know they will need the support of their reading communities.  I'm continually asking how I can support these students in building a reading life beyond our time together.  Donalyn reminds us, "At the campus level, scrutinize every component of the school day to determine if your procedures, policies, and systems support or hinder students' reading. (loc 1836)"

To help shape the reading lives of young literacy learners I want to be able to help them to connect: connect with other readers (community), connect with a next book, and connect with story.  How can I lift readers up to help them see themselves as part of this reading community?  

  • Create a reading "hub":  My hope is to recreate my Weebly site to serve parents, readers, and classroom teachers.  This will be a place to provide information to parents "about the importance of daily reading, increasing book access through libraries and book ownership, and promoting the value of reading aloud (loc 1809)" to children as well as share recommendations for books with families.  Additionally, this site will be able to house links to digital reading work students have created and recommendations for books.  Perhaps an "iRecommend" page can house blog posts and video commercials for books.  
  • Create reading clubs:  Leaving the classroom is going be hard as I know I will miss being a part of this community so I'm trying to rethink my community.  How can I create a culture of reading in our school?  Creating reading clubs to provide opportunities for readers to connect with one another is at the top of this list.  
  • Share my reading life:  I keep track of my reading (usually) on Shelfari, but I would like to make this visible to the readers I will be sitting beside each day.  Creating "shelfies" of my favorite titles and displaying my "currently reading" (loc 1809) books is at the top of this list.
  • Provide opportunities for students to share their reading lives:  I'm thinking a display outside the room I'll be working from is one way to honor the reading lives of my students.  Displaying covers of their current recommendations with stars and explanations might be a great way to start. (Tapping into their home reading lives early is going to be a first step in this journey.)
  • Lift reading voices:  With a little help from the school news team, readers can share book titles with our school community.   (Book commercials, loc 2206) 
  • Book swaps (loc 2785):  I'm thinking the idea of having students bring a book from home (or choosing from a collection of books I need to weed from my old classroom library) and hosting book swaps before breaks with students I will be supporting is a great way to send the message of the importance of continuing to read.  It seems like a fun way to celebrate reading as well!
  • Graffiti Walls (loc 2177):  Creating spaces, digital or paper, to share favorite lines from books would be one way to honor the voices of readers and build community.   
  • Rethink grouping:  Look for opportunities to have readers learn alongside other readers within their communities to form connections to support readers across the day.  
  • Develop reading plans (loc 2511):  Consider the reading plans students have during their reading workshops and when taking reading home.  Help to make connections to next books and create reading plans.  (This video with Tammy Mulligan demonstrates one way to help students learn to make "reading plans."  It is Choice Literacy premium for member access.)
When considering building reading communities, Donalyn Miller shares some community building titles for middle grades (loc 2132).  It made me ponder community building books for primary grades.  I thought I'd try to consider her topic and some titles I would recommend.  Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.

Communities That Read and Write
Follow Cathy 's board Books About Reading on Pinterest. Follow Cathy 's board Books About Writing on Pinterest.

Communities That Value All Members
Follow Cathy 's board Social Imagery on Pinterest.

Communities That Have Fun

Follow Cathy 's board Laugh Out Loud on Pinterest.

Communities That Care About the World

Follow Cathy 's board Go Green: Taking Care of Our Planet on Pinterest.

Join us next week as we discuss chapter 5-6 with Michelle Nero at Literacy Learning Zone.

Friday, July 11, 2014

It's Coming: August's Picture Book Event #pb10for10

It's hard to believe we are already nearing the middle of July.  Where has the summer gone?  That means it is almost time for our annual August picture book event.  If you love picture books.  If every trip to the book store leads you to the children's section.  If you check out larger picture book stacks than the young children waiting in the checkout line at your local library; then this event is for you.

On August 10th, Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning and I will be hosting our 5th annual Picture Book 10 for 10 (#pb10for10).  The event started in 2010 and has been growing ever since.  Last year over 100 blogs participated and my library card was full of requests by midnight August 10th.    

What Is It? 
The idea began as Mandy and I wondered what ten books were "must-haves" in the classroom.  If you could only choose 10 picture books, what would they be?  It's not an easy question.  We've had participants find some innovative ways to cheat the system (and we love that!) and share interesting groups of ten titles in our past years.  Each year the collaborative effort produces an informative picture book resource.

Last February, with the help of Julie Balen, we once again hosted the nonfiction (#nf10for10) event.  

We are hoping you will join us again this year.  
  1. Contact Us:  Contact us on our blogs, on Twitter (@mandyrobek or @cathymere), or by e-mail to let us know you are joining this event.  This way we can try to be sure we don't miss anyone on the day of the event.  
  2. Grab a Badge:  Add the Picture Book 10 for 10 Badge to your blog.  
  3. Choose your favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  Believe me, that's not as easy as it sounds.  Here are some tips that might help (Choosing Picture Books and More About Choosing Picture Books). 
  4. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post telling us about the 10 books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it here or at Enjoy and Embrace Learning.
  5. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog this might be the perfect time to start one --- or you can find alternate ways to participate here.  Mandy and I are not huge rule followers so feel free to adjust as needed.  
  6. We do the rest:  Then Mandy and I will link your post to the other posts in a Jog for 2013.  (Exercise without leaving our couches.)  
Pass the news along to all your crazy picture book friends.  Educators, media specialists, parents, book enthusiasts are all welcome!  You won't want to miss it.  

If you've participated in the past, I hope you will leave a comment telling how many years you have participated in the event.  We're excited to have many of you back for the 5th time....and to have many new book lovers join the conversation!  It's the community that makes this such a great event.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

#cyberPD: Reading in the Wild (Week 1 of 3)

Let's Get It Started
Today we begin our 4th annual summer #cyberPD conversation here at Reflect and Refine.  If you are joining our conversation, please leave your link in the comments below.  Across the day I will move them up into this post.  
Reading in the Wild
by Donalyn Miller

This year we chose Donalyn Miller's, Reading in the Wild.  Our event is a progressive conversation that starts with appetizers here.  Dinner is served by Laura Komos next week and Michelle Nero will end the event with dessert.  

To participate:

  • Link in the comments of the host blog (Ch 1 & 2 here).
  • Comment on the host blog.
  • Tweet comments using #cyberPD hashtag.
  • ???  (creativity is always welcomed)
After three previous years of participation I can tell you I am amazed by how much I learn as I move from blog to blog.  I value the varying perspectives from other colleagues joining the conversation. Because it is the conversation that matters, I suggest reading and commenting on at least three other posts each week.  

Reading in the Wild
First of all, can I begin by saying kudos to Donalyn for including so much research supporting the importance of time to read in our classrooms.  Thanks to her work, I have many references to support our reader's workshop and time to self-select reading.  

With my upcoming change in position from a first grade classroom to primary reading support, I seemed to read this book with an eye on the "developing reader."  What do these students need to grow their reading lives while learning to read?  

These statements particularly caught my attention (Loc = eBook version location):

  • "When we teach and assess reading in our classrooms, we cannot overlook the emotional connections avid readers have for books and reading and the lifestyle behaviors that lifelong readers possess." (Loc 288)
  • "Children who read the most will always outperform children who don't read much." (Loc 308)
  • "Our true obligations regarding children's literacy:  fostering their capacity to lead literate lives." (Loc 310)
  • "Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Frazen (2013) assert, 'There are too many research reports on the relationships between reading volume and reading achievement to continue to ignore the necessity of expanding reading activity for struggling readers (p. 7).'" (Loc 569)
  • "Developing readers need more reading, not less." (Loc 569)
  • "Beyond time spent reading, we deny our neediest readers full citizenship unsupportive classroom reading communities when we commandeer their independent reading time for reading intervention instead."  (Loc 569)
  • "At risk readers don't build reader-to-reader relationships." (Loc 569)
  • "At-risk readers need substantial reading time and access to peer communities that value reading." (Loc 587) 
It seemed fitting to
enjoy "Reading in the Wild" on
a plane.  What wild place
did you find yourself
reading our #cyberPD title?
As I read I began to consider my new role not as someone teaching reading, but as someone helping to build lifelong reading habits.  Donalyn reminds us that our responsibility is to help readers grow their love of reading; to develop readers who keep reading outside the school day and beyond required reading.  

Because developing readers need to be part of a reading community, I want to be able to provide support without sacrificing their time to build a reading life.  How best to accomplish this is something I look forward to puzzling out with readers, parents, and teachers in the coming year.  

For developing readers to become wild readers, they need to be part of their classroom reading communities, be present for read alouds, and learn to self-select books.  Donalyn's work has reminded me of the necessity of helping to build connections between developing readers, books, and peer readers.  

The Conversation Begins
At Ruminate & Invigorate, co-host, Laura Komos, promised her fourth graders they would make time to read everyday.  In her reflection, she shares some of the ways she worked to keep that promise. In her post she talks about "edge times," reading aloud, and her considerations for authors students should know (and much more!).  

At Literacy Learning Zone, co-host Michelle Nero, discusses "building independence and creating readers that choose and comprehend good fit books is evident in developing lifelong readers."  In her post she reflects upon the reading and the implications for her work as a reading support teacher.  Additionally, Michelle has created a PADLET for participants to share their touchstone authors.  Stop by for the link and much more.  

Linda Baie shares her reflections at Teacher Dance.  Linda talks about the importance of peer relationships in developing wild readers.  Linda reminds us that our collaborative #cyberPD community is an example of the power of reading together.  

At Mrs. Knott's Book Nook, Michele Knott, shares her takeaways from Reading in the Wild.  As a reading specialist, she shares some of her reflections for making changes that create wild readers.  

Lisa, at A Little of This, A Little of That, shares her take aways from our reading and the implications as she moves to second grade next year.  

Adam Shaffer, at Shaped Like a Blogg, jumps back into the blogging world to join the conversation about Reading in the Wild.  He asks some tough questions about developing wild readers in systems with prescribed reading programs.  

Val Ruckes, The Sensibly Savvy Teacher,  shares many great suggestions for shaping wild readers in the primary grades.  (Of course, these smart ideas easily apply to older grades too.)  

At What I've Learned from 6th Graders, Katy Collins, shares her top 10 questions/ah-has/quotes from Reading in the Wild.  

Jamie Riley, at Rethinking Media Centers, considers implications of Reading in the Wild in her school's media center.  

At Ms. Victor Reads, Erika shares ideas she uses, and those she plans to try, to create wild readers.

Deb Day, at Coffee with Chloe, shares reflections of Reading in the Wild from her view as a high school teacher.  She shares many takeaways and some suggestions for building a library for older readers.  (Many of her ideas apply to younger readers as well.)

At In the Heart of a Teacher, Suz shares her reflections about Reading in the Wild in our current test driven educational system.

Chris, of Reading Amid the Chaos, shares the implications of her reading in the planning she is doing for next year's move to first grade.

At Fourth Grade Literacy Lovers, Megan shares her takeaways from Reading in the Wild.

The perspectives in this year's #cyberPD conversation are diverse.  Here, Elisabeth Ellington of The Dirigible Plum, shares the way she implemented the ideas from Reading in the Wild into her college course.  She worked to overcome many of the same obstacles many of us have in our reading workshops.

At A Web of Thoughts, Laura suggests, "the real question lies in how we can teach students to become wild readers.”  She shares some of her thoughts on making this happen.  

Tonya Buelow joins the discussion at Learning, Growing, and Reflecting Educator.  Tonya considers the essential need for time to read and the challenges of creating time for all readers as she works toward her dream of a thriving community of readers.  

Tara Smith's synthesis of Reading in the Wild will make you pause and think more deeply about the ideas within the pages.  She reminds us that reading can be infused with joy and purpose as she considers the ideas of Donalyn's book at A Teaching Life.  

Melissa Guerrette, at Educate, Empower, Inspire…Teach, made me take pause as she considers a reading community vs. a reading network.  She discusses our role as "lead readers" and gives some ideas for building reading networks for our students.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

DigiLit Sunday: Tools for Reader Response

As part of a continuous collaboration among educators interested in digital learningMargaret Simon has started a weekly Digital Learning round-up on her blog:  DigiLit Sunday.  I'm joining the event for the first time today.  Stop by Reflections on the Teche to read, discover, and link.

Tonight at 8:00 EST, Colby Sharp and Katherine Sokolowski will be hosting #titletalk.  Tonight's topic is writing about reading.  I have a busy day ahead, but I'm hoping I can stop in for a bit.  In our classroom, reader response is most often a choice not a requirement.  I've found technology tools have increased student interest in digging into text and sharing their discoveries.  Since over the last week I have started the tedious job of cleaning out my Evernote records as well as some of the sites we used for response, it seemed the perfect time to share a few favorite applications.  I had to smile at the variety of ways students discovered across the year to respond to text.

When choosing apps for our classroom I try to be intentional.  It seems less can really be more if you pick the right apps.  Here are a few things I consider:

  • Do apps allow students to create?  
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Can students create in a timely fashion in this application?  
  • Do apps connect to our curriculum and the focus of our learning?
  • Do the apps allow students to work where they are as learners?  
  • Will the apps allow students to create in authentic ways?
  • How can work be saved?
  • How can work be shared with others after it is complete?
  • Will app allow students to discover and build understanding?  
  • Does the app allow collaboration and/or commenting?  

Here are a few of my favorite apps for reader response:

Pixie:  In our district we have Pixie on our laptops so students become very familiar with this application.  It is a little expensive to add to the laptops, but I find it works well as it allows students to add images, create pictures, include audio, and create flexibly.  (Wixie is a FREE alternative app.)

Here's a response to That Is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems

Educreations:  Here is a quick recording made by a student to share her favorite books from the year.  She made this as we were reflecting on our reading and planning new reading for the summer.  This year, my students preferred Pixie in reading, but I think Educreations has a lot of possibility.
 Kidblog:  Many students prefer to go to Kidblog to create and share their thinking about books.  Often students choose Kidblog to write about their reading so friends can comment.
This was created in Pixie and inserted into the post.
Students can also post directly into the blog. 

Potential for Writing About Reading:
I played around with Haiku Deck earlier this year.  It's ease in adding images and then inserting text made it a quick application to utilize.  Additionally, the finished product is transformed into a presentation format in seconds.  I'm thinking students could use this to find images that might describe a character or to connect themes from books to their lives.  I'm thinking it also might be a way to build vocabulary through images with second language learners or those who need more experience with a topic.
Haiku Deck
I loved Franki Sibberson's post about Corkulous:  Corkulous for Read Aloud.  Oh, the possibilities.
Corkulous Free (Pro allows more boards)
I'd really like to find a collaborative tool that would allow us to grow our thinking together as we respond to reading.  Our district has been teaching us about Nearpod.  It allows teachers to build presentations, students can join collaboratively.  I'm wondering if there isn't a way to make this more of a collaborative response tool.

Please take a moment to share some of your favorite tools for reader response.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Snicker of Magic

"I knew how that felt, to love a story so much you didn't just want to read it, you wanted to feel it."  - Felicity Pickle from A Snicker of Magic

That's exactly how I felt about this story.  I'm pretty sure I did feel some parts of it.  How can you not feel the friendship between Jonah and Felicity?  How can you not feel Felicity's love for her mother?  How can you not feel the desire Felicity has to belong, to be home?

I purchased A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd many weeks ago as friend after friend raved about the book.  I knew I was going to love it so I did something I rarely do, I actually bought it for my Kindle.  Of course, I bought it, and then books I had been waiting in line for at our library digital site kept becoming available.  With the narrow window to complete, A Snicker of Magic kept having to wait.  Finally, I could wait no longer.  I opened it and couldn't put it down.

In A Snicker of Magic, the Pickles arrive in Midnight Gulch where Felicity, Frannie, and their mama stay with their Aunt Cleo.  Felicity's mom likes to wander and doesn't stay anywhere for long.  It doesn't take long for Felicity to fall in love with Midnight Gulch where she finds herself blanketed in the love of friends and family.  Felicity wants to stay there, to make Midnight Gulch her home, but she can see in Mama's eyes that she has plans to leave.

Midnight Gulch isn't your normal town.  Midnight Gulch is a place with a story, a little magic, and a terrible curse.  Natalie Lloyd weaves her story delicately adding small details about the curse that ended the magic of Midnight Gulch many generations ago.  Can Felicity and Jonah unravel the curse, bring a little magic back to the town, and possibly convince Mama to stay?  Is there, perhaps, a little snicker of magic left to make everything better?

If you haven't read this one, don't wait.  Move it to the top of your pile!  I'm glad it will be waiting on my Kindle when I want to visit Midnight Gulch again.

A Few Quotes
Natalie Lloyd has a way with words.  Here are a few quotes I loved in this book:

  • "Mama's story voice is like nothing I've ever heard, like something between a summer breeze and a lullaby."  Felicity Pickle 
  • "Every person you will ever meet, and every place you will ever go, and every building you set your foot in - has a story to tell."  Miss Lawson, Felicity's teacher
  • "Some miracles are big and flashy, and others are sweet and simple.  Some miracles make you want to shout, and others make you want to sing."  Felicity
  • "She told stories in such a way that I swear my heart heard them before my ears did." Felicity
  • "I wanted to wrap up in her stories, curl them around my shoulders like a quilt." Felicity
  • "How strange, I thought, when you can see what's way out ahead of you but not what's right up close." Felicity
  • "Even if the bad memory comes first, I choose to replace it with a good one instead."  Holly Pickle
  • "Home is what happens when you are brave enough to love people." Felicity

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Let's Commit to Comment #commit2comment

This week I've finally have had a little more time to visit blogs.  As I have moved from post to post, I've realized how many blogs, especially new bloggers, are not receiving comments; even though the message is moving, the voice is interesting, the opening for conversation is there.  While I typically try to leave 3 comments for every round-up I join, I'll admit I haven't been commenting as much either.  During the school year, I was quite guilty of reading and then clicking away.  It seemed an issue of time, yet I know readers who leave comments across blogs all the time.

Let's #commit2comment
For the summer, to remedy this problem, I'm committing to 5 comments each day and at least one of those comments will be on a blog that is new to me.  I will comment 5 of the 7 days a week…so 5 x 5 will be 25 comments per week.  I'm hoping others will join me in committing to comment (#commit2comment) by setting their own appropriate summer commenting goals.  I'm hoping you will tweet or blog your summer commitment and set a goal that works for you.   Let's start a movement to share some blog love and keep the conversations going.

Posts about Commenting
Your 2¢ Worth:  Merely Day by Day
Comments Are Like Christmas Morning:  Hay's Home