September 8, 2013

Reading is THINKING


As little kids, we all let our imagination run wild thoughts, ideas, and what ifs, but then something seems to happen and our creativity gets squashed.  We are afraid to dream and put our thoughts and ideas out there for what reason I'm not sure.  Is it fear?  Is it self-consciousness?  Is it laziness?  Or is it something deep inside of us that has learned that people don't want to hear our opinion anymore.  Do our students learn from state tests, online assessments, and relentless teachers that the only thing that is important about what they read is if they can remember and repeat and summarize the details of the story.  As teachers, I believe if we teach students this is what reading is, we are making a HUGE mistake.  It is illogical to think that if we drill and kill reading that we are going to produce readers who enjoy reading.  It is also illogical to think that if we let students explore the creativity of reading by talking about what THEY want to talk about and exploring text at a deeper level that they will no longer be able to recite to us what is going on in the text.  Forget about stupid standardized tests and focus on getting on your students to love reading, the performance on the state test will be so much better if you have true readers taking the test versus summarizing robots who have grown to view reading as a chore.

I used an activity with my students during the first week of school last week to get this point across early in the year.  I am not the teacher that is going to make them all read the same book and take chapter quizzes and  tests on the book.  I am the teacher that is going to constantly support them as they push themselves as readers.  It is essential that students understand that reading goes far beyond within the text knowledge.  Reading is about making connections, inferences, synthesizing information, critiquing the author, and analyzing the text.  But even beyond this, reading is being able to pick out what you, as a reader, truly want to talk about surrounding a text and being able to discuss your ideas with peers and have this conversation be enjoyable.  When we can teach students how to do this, we have succeeded.  Students having conversation about text is not possible if students are stuck talking within the text with drill and kill questions:

-What is the main character's first name?
-How old is she?
-What happened in Chapter One?
blah, blah, blah, blah, blah....

I'm not saying that it's not important that students understand what's going on in the book, obviously it is.  What I'm saying is far too often we stop there, and we're happy that students at least know what's going on.  Many of us are part of book clubs with other adults and co-workers.  When we go to book clubs, do we sit and summarize the book to each other and ask trivial questions about the book to one another?  NO!  We talk about choices the author made, what we thought about the characters decisions, how we relate to situations in the story, how we would have behaved differently as characters, how we would have written the book differently as the author.  Why wouldn't we want the same thing for our students when they're discussing text with one another?

The link to the activity that I'll place below is one that I did with my students last week during the first week of school.  It allowed students to respond to the first three chapters of Susan Draper's novel, Out of My Mind with three different reading activities.  Students didn't know at the time that the reading activities were different.  One was purposefully set up to ask only within the text questions, the other students wrote down points of what they wanted to talk about, and the third was a variety of within, beyond, and about the text questions.  Once students filled out the reading activity they had a discussion based only on the reading activity with their corresponding group members (still without knowing that their reading activities were different).  Afterwards, we debriefed as a full group about what types of questions generate the best reading discussion and how they wanted to be treated as readers this year.  Definitely check out the activity by following the link below:

Reading Activity to Show Importance of Within, Beyond, and About the Text Talk

On a side note, this year marks the beginning of my 6th year of teaching so at the opening day in-service I received this fabulous certificate for five years of service to my current school district. :)  Just thought I'd share! ;)

16 comments :

  1. Thanks for sharing, Kasey! I downloaded the activity and ordered the book from Amazon. Can't wait to try it all out...

    Kim
    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You rock, Kim! I'm excited that you're going to try it out. Let me know how it goes in your classroom, and I hope your year is off to a great start!

      Delete
    2. Truthfully, YOU rock, Kasey, because you share so generously!
      (And I really wanted to see what a Reply to a Reply looked like! heeheehee)

      :)
      Kim
      Finding JOY in 6th Grade

      Delete
    3. Well now I just have to see what a reply to a reply to a reply is all about... :)

      Delete
  2. Love this Kasey! I'm coming from the same point of view - we have to create readers who are passionate about the books they love and have strong preferences, and they can't figure that out if all we do is water down books with the plot/characters/theme questions.

    I'm going to download your activity and make a similar one to use with kiddos here or even my staff! :-)

    thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Michelle,

      I definitely thought about doing the same thing with one of my professional development groups as well. I'm glad you brought that up because I still might! It's a great perspective as a teacher to be forced to talk about something surrounding a book that doesn't interest you-it will prevent us from doing the same to kids!

      Kasey

      Delete
  3. Thanks for another great idea!!! I'll try it with my classes soon :-)
    P.S. I sent you my book in the mail today. Please let me know if you get it okay!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome, Jamie! Let me know how the activity goes! I can't wait to get the book! I'll let you know when it comes. Thanks again!

      Delete
  4. Hi Kasey,

    I am trying to start the school year off like my young idol, Kasey...no packets....no worksheets! It hasn't been easy but I did make it through two weeks already! We started off with the same book just to keep me sane, but from here I told them we are branching out into different books. This is SCARY new territory for me (I am 49) because I came up through the BF Skinner behaviorist years where we all went in lockstep and took notes. You have motivated my inner constructivist (and I bought "The Case for Constructivism" from ASCD...great book) and I am trying hard to do more lessons like your Sounder "Point of View Gallery Walk." Can you share any other constructivist ideas like this one when we are all reading different books? Help! Thanks for sharing everything you do....you touch far more kids than in Rice Lake! You are truly the best!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Laurel,

      As always, you are just the sweetest. I'm glad that your inner constructivist has come out! One thing that I found when I "switched over" was that many students who were used to the "sit and get" so to speak didn't like moving to the constructivist way of thinking because it actually required them to THINK. I have my own class this year at the 8th grade level, so I will definitely try to do posts about reading minilessons that I do. The key thing is to have a daily lesson that students can apply to ANY book. You can have students do a paragraph response to it in their Reader's Notebook or LA Notebook (whatever you have) and/or you could have them write ideas down on post-it notes or prepare points that they want to discuss at the end of reading time. The key is that it's okay to give students time to read different books. It's an adjustment because you're giving up control, but if you keep tight classroom expectations and develop routines, it will work out. I'm not sure if you've ever downloaded my reading minilesson freebie from my TpT store, but this is a great place to start in forming those constructivism lessons you're thinking of. Example lesson: "Readers examine author knowledge so that they can predict what type of research an author had to do in order to write the book." For the modeling portion, take a book that you've read and explain the type of research you think the author had to do in order to write the book. For the have-a-go, as a class, compile a list of types of research authors may have to do (this is where is gets into constructivism). For the application, have students write a list of what types of research their author may have done in relation to the setting, characters, etc. in order to write the book. I hope this helps! Keep going!! It sounds like you're off to a great start! :)

      Delete
    2. Hi Kasey,

      I got all of your Guided Reading Organizational Tools, Reading Conference form and the Mini-Lesson How To. I have done two mini-lessons but I start mine with "Critical Readers...." because I have 8th grade and wanted to have it sound sort of serious. I have your list of mini-lesson statements mapped to the Common Core...it's really helpful! That small twist where you compile the list or anchor chart together really would give them ownership....how different than just telling them! I have to restrain my need to "tell" and have that control. Thanks again! Can't wait to try this one! Thanks for being my coach!

      Delete
    3. Laurel,

      The it SO SO huge to not tell them but instead let them generate ideas. It's really hard to hold back sometimes, but I'm often surprised when they come up with something I hadn't considered! Keep making little shifts! You're on a great track!

      Kasey

      Delete
  5. Kasey,
    I find it interesting that your most recent post centers on a text that classrooms around the world are reading in a very social way. Have you heard of The Global Read Aloud? If not, check it out. If so, the world will be lucky to have your voice on board! http://www.globalreadaloud.com/

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the heads up, Laura! I was not aware of The Global Read Aloud and will definitely have to check it out! :)

      Delete
  6. Awesome post. Reading IS thinking. I actually created an App called Stream Reading for this purpose. My reading conferences were becoming restrictive so I wanted to get down to what the child was thinking about with their reading. Inferring is such an under valued skill these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! That is so cool that you made your own app for this purpose. I agree that without going deeper, reading conferences can get a little surface level and boring.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...