Friday, July 4, 2014

Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller - CHAPTER 2 - Summer Book Study


*don't miss the freebie at the end of this post*

I am sooooooooo excited to host this chapter!!!
SELF-SELECTING reading materials is perhaps the KEY to one become a wild lifetime reader!
I've always been "that" teacher that gave her students complete freedom to choose their own reading materials.
If there is anything I remember from my early student days, is teachers dictating what I should read. It was ironic as I would sneak in my own book and never read what was assigned.
It got even worse in high school! I read the cliff notes for the assigned reading, and read my own books at home, and at every other chance I got.
It is a miracle I am the avid reader that I am as it goes against all I was pushed to be at school.
Every child has different interests based on their gender, culture, personal experiences, etc.,
how can you force them to read something they have absolutely no interest in, and expect them to like reading?
I am all for GUIDING students in self-selecting their own reading materials based on interest after conferring with them and getting to know them better.
A great way to offer this guidance is to offer class time during the first week of school for students to complete an interest survey. You can than collect the surveys and pull them out during your mini conferences the first month of school.
Go over the survey with each students and provide recommendations you think they would enjoy. Offer choices and be sure to have some of those books on hand for them to browse.

I've always taught a mini-lesson for choosing Just Right Books
at the beginning of my reading workshop.
In that lesson student discussed how to pick a book that is appropriate for their level
(as in difficulty level) as well as criteria for choosing books.

At the beginning of the chapter Miller offers her own personal guidelines
for selecting books that work for her and I think this would make for a wonderful mini lesson in our Reader's Workshop!

Create a class anchor-chart after allowing students to work together with a partner
to brainstorm criteria for self-selecting materials

Criteria can include but not limited to:

What sparks my interest in this book?
Did the book win a major book award?
Did the book earn a starred review from a professional reviewer?
Was the book recommend by fellow readers/friends?
Is the book a sequel to another book we loved?
Do we like the author's past work?
Is there a movie coming up about the book?

To help students become independent and self-select reading materials, Miller lists sources for discovering new books. This resource would also make for a great anchor-chart.
I would begin by asking student to contribute their ideas as to where readers can discover new books, and fill in the rest.

Personal testimonials by friends and family,
Professional colleagues,
Book lists,
Bookstores and libraries displays
Book review blogs and websites,
Authors's blogs and websites,
Social networking sites,
Professional book review publications,
Book vendor websites,
Publishers' catalogues and websites,
Book clubs,

Research proves that providing students with choice and fostering independence by encouraging students to self-select reading materials engages and increases their reading motivation and interest. It builds their confidence as readers!

According to Miller, self-selecting reading material
1. allow students to value their own decision-making ability
2. fosters their capacity to choose appropriate literature
3. gives them confidence and a feeling of ownership
4. improves reading achievement
5. encourages them in becoming lifelong readers.

Students who struggle to self-select books lack background knowledge about books and authors and don't even know where to being finding books that they would be interested in reading.
It is our job as teachers to guide and support them through the process by recommending books by interest, promoting discussions and recommendations by peers, and providing access to a variety of materials.

My classroom library

 Bulletin Boards that feature students' selections & popular choices

Students reading, discussing, and sharing!

Community Conversations

Nurturing a community of readers in the classroom and providing students with a platform to read, discuss, share, reflect on books they've read, and recommend books to one another fosters confidence among the readers that they can self select books.
I love the concept of this Twitter board for example. It allows students to "post" their thoughts about the books they read with their peers in a social media friendly format that they are comfortable with.

Read Alouds
 Read alouds are the perfect opportunity for teachers to model and demonstrate their own love for reading, a variety of reading strategies, and highlight great writing.
 It should be integrated daily as part of the lesson plan.

Read Alouds:
* build community.
* expose our children to books, authors, or genres they might not discover on their own.
 * provide prime opportunities to introduce students to genres they often avoid, like poetry, biographies, and nonfiction.
* support developing readers.
* reinforce that reading is enjoyable.

Selecting class read alouds:

* choose books from authors who will lead your students to more books.

* share a variety of texts, including nonfiction, poetry, and online articles.
* consider time constraints and book length.
* decide how students will view illustrations.
* read books that you enjoy.
* ditch the read aloud if it doesn't work.

Building a community of readers:
* invite students to share their favorite read aloud.
* when you have a guest teacher, leave a read aloud different from the one you are already reading to the class.
* participate in World Read Aloud Day.
* invite students to select your next read aloud.
* post a lists of the texts you have shared.
* ask students to sign their favorite read aloud selections for the year.

Creating Book Buzz
Miller introduces an engaging method for creating a buzz about book she calls Book Drawings.
Book Drawings introduce new books to students and encourage risk taking. Students are more willing to try unfamiliar books when the teacher endorses them and classmates express enthusiasm for reading them.
The teacher begins with presenting the a book commercial about each book, sharing a brief preview of the content, personal impressions, connections to other books, and what they've learned from other teachers, librarians, and reviewers, about the title. 
Next, the teacher invites any interested students to record the book's title in their Books I'd Like to Read List (in their reading journal) and enter a drawing for an opportunity to read it. 

In my classroom, students give book talks.
Book talks give students an opportunity to share books they love with their classmates, 
and allow them to practice oral language skills, as well as public speaking.

Abandoning Books
I have ALWAYS encouraged my students to abandon books!
Yes, you read that right! Abandon!
Adults do it all the time when they loose interest in a book, 
so why force children to finish a book that lost its spark?
It is important to discuss with the students criteria for abandoning books.
Building a class anchor chart with those standards through a mini lesson, will provide guidelines for discussions during mini teacher-student conferences.

Guess My Lexile
I have never been one to stick to lexile level. It saddens me to see teachers and librarians who restrict students choices based on pre determined reading levels. 
A lexile level is a good starting point however, many other facts should be considered.
Teaching students how to choose books that are "Just Right" for them is an important lesson that should take place the first 2 weeks of your reader's workshop. 
Criteria should be developed based on both level of difficulty and interest.

The Mature Shelf
Where was this shelf when I was growing up?!?
I was always the reader who was ready for more mature reading early on.
My teachers resisted by title choices, stating I was too young for them.
Luckily, my father was always by my side, knowing I was bored of the selection offered to me, and supported me in reading anything I wanted even if it was more "grown up". 
Providing advanced readers who are both emotionally and academically ready with the opportunity to read young adult titles empowers them.
As I get to know my students throughout the year I know exactly who pertains to that criteria.

Selection Reflection
I HATE reading logs!!!! Never used them as I think they are absolutely pointless.
Both students and parents forge them and it doesn't provide any indication of comprehension and analysis of the reading selection.
Several years ago while teaching middle school,
 I read Nancy Atwell's books In The Middle & The Reading Zone 
BAM!!! It was the answer I've been looking for all along!
Ever since than my students have kept a reflecting journal where they write personal letters to me, their peers, the characters, the author, or themselves about the book. 
The students and I take turns reading each other's journals and responding back!
Journal letter writing takes place in class weekly and is NOT assigned as homework.
It allows me time to walk around and confer with the students individually about their reading & writing, providing them with immediate feedback.
When I feel overwhelmed, I partner students up to give one another feedback.
While teaching middle school, we had a laptop cart available to us. Instead of a notebook journal, my students created blogs and kept their journals online.
The amazing part?!? Authors who would google themselves found my kids' blogs and responded to them!!! What an amazing experience for my students!! They were stunned that the authors would take the time to write them to discuss the books.
In her book, Miller provides a form to help students quickly reflect on their selections.

Conferring Points
Do you take the time to confer with your students about their reading selections?
Discussing their selections helps them foster independence, providing them with opportunities to preview, evaluate, and choose books on their own.
Check out my FREEBIE form for teacher-student conferences below!!

Check out my 
Reader's Workshop Mini Lessons 
These specific lessons help support students in self-selecting reading materials t
throughout the year.

Check out my 
It will help get your students reflective journal organized, 
making it a place for them to respond to their reading thoughtfully! 

I will give out a free copy of my Reader's Journal Pack 
to 3 randomly selected readers who pin this post, leave a link to their pin, 
and comment below telling me how you encourage self-selected reading in the classroom.
Here's a 4th of July Freebie for you!
Grab your copy of my Mini Reading Conference form.

Check out my partner's post for this chapter!


Summer Book Study Blog Roll & Schedule - Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller

This wonderful book study is brought to you by a group of amazing teacher bloggers led by 


hosted by 

hosted by 



hosted by 

yours truly & the fabulous Michelle over at Making It As A Middle School Teacher


hosted by 

hosted by 

hosted by 

hosted by 

Happy Reading Wild Readers!

Link up your own posts for this book study & join us!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer Book Study - Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller

Happy Memorial Day!

I mentioned the past few weeks that I will joining a summer book study along with fellow bloggers, and we are getting ready to launch it soon!

As a huge fan of Donalyn Miller's first book, The Book Whisperer,
 I am psyched about her new book, Reading in the Wild.
Although her target audience is upper elementary and middle grades, I am a firm believer the philosophy works for all ages, from toddlerhood to adulthood.

The first book offered Miller's philosophy on encouraging reading in the classroom, whereas her new book serves as a hands-on classroom companion.

I will be hosting the study of one of the chapters in the book right here on my blog, and lead you to the other chapters & blogs when it is their time.
I will also offer a freebie for your classroom to go along with each chapter!

I'd love for you to join us!

We will use #WildReading14 throughout the study 
so be sure to tag your posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

End of Year Goodies!!!

As you get ready to wrap up the school year I went back to some of my old posts and resurfaced for you some of the oldies but goodies end of the year freebies, strategies, activities. 
These were a HUGE HIT! 

A wonderful activity that can be completed in class or at home, alone, with a partner, or in groups. Can be applied to ANY subject area, and either used in general or broken up into sub categories. It is the perfect differentiation tool that will be a wonderful creative visual display 
fro both you & students. It is the ultimate authentic assessment and will really show you what your kids learned this year. To read more about this strategy click on the title or images.

This is an engaging activity I did with all of my classes and all grades I taught throughout the years post state tests. It helped students channel their end of the year jitters and navigate their energies in creative ways. Depending on the level of your students, you can assign this activities to groups, partners, or individual. An amazing authentic assessment that ties together everything the students learned throughout the year and provides them the chance to implement their knowledge and bring it to life. It is a real opportunities for the artists and writers in your class to shine.

Use this strategy to wrap up books that students read in class this year.
Ask each student to choose their favorite book from this past year and provide them with class time to complete this FABULOUS secret door foldable. They can take it home to put their final touch on it. This was one of my kids favorite projects all year and the results were just WOW!
Make for a really great bulletin board display!
A great authentic assessment that lets their little minds process what they've read!
It is also a great way for students to share with their classmates their favorites books and  encourage summer reading choices!


A fun & fab foldbale to celebrate the end of the year!
As your kiddos gear up for summer fun they will compare & contrast last summer's events to this summer plans. This is tons of fun and made for a great May/June bulletin board.

*** Now... let me share two of my FAVORITE end of year goodies & strategies
 from my blogging buddies. ***

A phenomenal end of unit/end of year by my friend Jen Runde over at Runde's Room.
Follow the link above or click on the images below to read her original post.
She used this strategy in her Math class. I implemented it in Literacy when I taught middle school and in all subject as an end of the year review when I taught 5th grade. 
A wonderful authentic assessment that gives students both creative freedom and an opportunity to properly "socialize" with their peers as the brainstorm and review the concepts learned throughout the year. More importantly, it gets them out of their seats and moving in a productive way when they have ants in their pants at the end of the year. 

A freebie from Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits
These were a HUGE HIT with my kiddos last year!

Hope you utilize some of these ideas, and perhaps it gives you something new to try out in your classroom this year. 
I'd love to hear your feedback if you used any of these ideas :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Reading in the Wild - A Book Study

This post is loooooooooooong overdue!
Its been FOREVER since I last posted :(
I totally thought I could handle blogging & motherhood, and I was clearly wrong!
Now that I've been out of the classroom for over a year chasing a toddler
 and expecting baby girl #2 this coming Aug., 
I find it very hard to keep up with what is happening in education and the classroom while I'm not involved in it everyday and no longer have hands-on exposure.
Teaching used to be ALL I did, thought about, and worked on for 5 years until my little one came along, now however, my interest have shifted quite a bit.
I've been busy planning play dates, playing, singing, building blocks, teaching shapes, colors, etc., however, I am DEFINITELY raising a little reader :)

When I do get in into my "teacher" mode & mood, I create literacy bags for my girl with manipulatives for each story, and other fun activities.
I'm thinking that my NEW products will now greatly range in age as I create both for middle grades & toddlers/pre-school.

Anyway.... back to the ORIGINIAL reason for this post
(like every new mother I get carried away talking about my princess)
 I was sooooooooo THRILLED to find out Donalyn Miller wrote a NEW BOOK!
Her first book, The Book Whisperer was a god send!
It's as if someone finally understood my philosophy for teaching reading all along,  
and was able to properly articulate it in writing.
If you have not read it, it's a MUST!!!! Do yourself a favor this summer and READ IT!!!

This her NEW BOOK, Reading in the Wild!

I will be participating in a blogging book study this summer with some of my FAVORITE blogging buddies, and I'm very excited to share my thoughts on the book & analyze with you some of the concepts presented in it.
I'd love to hear how the ideas presented in it come alive in the classroom,
 and if it indeed the way to students' hearts.

I will also share a FREEBIE to go along with EACH CHAPTER of the book!

I will share more info. on the book study soon,
but in the mean time grab a copy if you haven't yet!
It is a fabulous read!

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