Thinking About “The 5 Truths of Reading” by Pernille Ripp

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I’m stealing today — stealing great words, great thinking, great learning. Pernille Ripp first wrote “The 5 Truths of Reading” on her blog in 2015, and as she says, the post is “old, but still relevant.” I agree. I’m thinking about how I can be more of an advocate for authentic reading and teaching practices as I start my new position as school librarian this fall. Here are my thoughts about the 5 truths: (See Pernille’s original post here.)

  1. Give students choice in what they read. Assigned reading is not the way to get kids to read. Usually the word “assignment” is followed by a collective “Ugh./Aww, Man!/That’s stupid!” from students in the classroom. I’ve heard it; I know. The love of reading for reading’s sake is gone immediately, and that’s not what we want. Our intentions are good — we want students to read good books, to be exposed to meaningful literature, to become more intelligent human beings. But when we assign reading that we choose, we are pushing our lives, our values, our choices into the faces of our children. Instead of assigned readings, give students choice. Talk about books that they might love, build a classroom library where students can find themselves, and create a classroom based on sharing those wonderful titles and the lessons they bring.
  2. Don’t judge the books – or the students. Pernille stated, “Our glances, our purchases, our book conversations all shape the identities that our readers are creating.” I’m guilty here, for sure. Not so much in glances or conversations, as I love to hear what my students are reading (and why they chose a particular book). My purchases have been my decision, though, and mostly reflected what I would like to have in my classroom library. No more! I have followed #WNDB (We Need Diverse Books) for over a year now, and I have consciously built a better library. Instead of deciding what you want, ask your students what should be in the library, and heed the call from recommendations given to you. Once I had a student tell me, “Mrs. S! I know this isn’t your genre, but you HAVE to read this!” One of the best things I ever did. I loved Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs! Listen to your kids. They know. Give them a chance. (Image courtesy of books.google.com)
  3. Be a reader. This is a big one! I cannot imagine being a reading teacher or a librarian without being a reader first. Shouldn’t reading be a pre-requisite for becoming a reading teacher? I think so, and recently I’ve said that out loud more often. Each time I finish a book, I’m more intelligent than I was before, and that is what I want for my students, as well.
  4. Read because it’s reading time. My motto in my reading class was “Read During Reading Time.” I still find it disheartening to hear that people who observe teachers find that there’s “just reading” going on in the classroom. Excuse me, it’s READING class! We have to get rid of rewards, points, and prizes for reading. We have to find that JOY of reading is its own reward, and we have to do that at school.
  5. Label books, not readers. This is so important. Pernille mentioned that Fountas & Pinnell (speaking at the ILA annual conference) stressed that levels are for books. Pernille also said that labeling books meant placing a sticker or stamp on them to show what bin they belong in. Kylene Beers and Bob Probst have done extensive reading research, and I remembered that Kylene said, “This is a child, not an H.” I remembered that when a student asked me once after a formative assessment, “Am I a red?” (as in, “Did I fail the test?”) I have the shivers now, just thinking about it again.

These 5 truths have been on my mind. Hopefully sharing my stolen thinking (thank you, Pernille!) will deeper our conversations about reading and teaching reading in the classroom.

 

Slice of Life Story Challenge Day 10: I Just Want to Read!

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Slice of Life Small LogoI Just Want to Read!

I have a student who grumbles every time we do a new reading project. I asked why the grumbles, and he said, “I just want to read.”

I totally agree! While teaching students to love reading, we teachers are also finding ways to assess/grade/report standards of learning so that our reading classes are successful in an administrator’s eye. Various methods are acceptable. Reading logs, comprehension checks, menus, games, and even tests are used in classrooms across the country to “prove” that students achieve the goals set forth by the school. Many archaic lesson plans are out-of-date now, or no longer acceptable as best practice ways to teach reading. What is a student to do? What are teachers to do? Conversations are ongoing…and fascinating!

Sometimes, though, as a reader, I just want to read.

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Time To Show What You Know!

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Slice of Life Small LogoTime To Show What You Know!

Waiting for the end of the school year is like waiting for the tea-kettle water to boil. Or for rain to come during a drought. Or for pigs to fly. Seriously! So I’ve decided to challenge myself: think positively every day and have fun every day. Today’s “beginning the book club” with my honors class was focused, fabulous, and fun! (For me, anyway. Yes, my opinion.)

First, I talked. Just a mini lesson, I promise! A few minutes of Great Expectations — “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s your turn. I’ve taught you all you need to know. Now it’s time to show what you know!” I told them that they would read choice books during a book club. Current expectations include reading during reading time (always), writing to respond, and discussing their books with each other. As the hands raised, I smiled to myself. “They are going to ask me how I want this all done.” 🙂

The students knew this was coming. We wanted this to happen in March, but we never got around to it, with sickness and testing getting in the way. Now it’s time. These procedures will help students guide themselves for the next few weeks. I will be what a teacher is truly meant to be — the facilitator. The hands were still up. “Ok, I’ll get you started. What do you want this to look like? You have to decide for yourselves. I’m just the observer now. I want to SEE IT HAPPEN.” I told them the clubs needed to write out their protocols. Decide…

1) How will you take turns?

2) How will you talk?

3) How will you be responsible, active listeners?

4) How will you make sure everyone in the group gets a chance to take part?

I gave each group a piece of chart paper. “Go!” (Still hands!) “No! I’m not helping. Ask your group. Decide and write it down.”

Then, it just clicked! The groups split up, started talking, and writing, and reading. I stopped them one more time before the end of class. “Hey there! I just want to make sure. Did you finish today’s work, or will you have homework?” When one group assigned 4 chapters to read for tonight, I did butt in again, only for a moment, to ask, “Do you have time to do that much homework tonight?” They adjusted and moved on, each participant agreeing to do the work. Their decision. Their plan. Their work.

I’m now the observer during reading time. I want my students to show what they know. I cannot wait to see what happens!

Slice of Life Tuesday: Who’s Having More Fun?

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I just opened the front door and found two boxes on the freezing cold front porch. I stepped outside for a few seconds to carry the unexpected, unexpectedly large boxes inside. The boxes were not heavy, but awkward, and I had to turn them both at an angle to get them in the door. Ok…I didn’t have to turn them 45 degrees or anything; the cardboard containers were not that large, about the size of vinyls or big picture books…OOH! It came!

The first box was my daughter’s new vinyl (I called them records when I was young — times have changed). She’s into music right now. But I — I got the book! I was so excited to receive my granddaughter’s birthday gift early — I Don’t Want To Be a Frog by Dev Petty! I wasn’t ready for it; I don’t need it until July, but I ordered it, and it’s here! “Why did you order it so early?” you ask? Here’s the truth: I love picture books, even more than my granddaughter, more than my kids, more than my students!

Last week, I packed my bag for school, carrying Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, Blackout, Blizzard, Snow Day, and Once Upon an Alphabet. My sixth graders buzzed around the room when they saw me unload. “Are you going to read new picture books today?”

“Of course!” I exclaimed. I love to share my new picture books with my “grown-up” sixth graders. They gather in the meeting area, never quietly, always giggling, and I share my new finds. Even though these are the “little kid” books, we read them. We’ve been talking about award-winners in literature, so this was well worth the instructional minutes. (Motivating students to read is always worth the instructional minutes.)

One of my students inquired, “You get really excited about this stuff, don’t you?” Yep. True story.

Who’s Having More Fun?

I’d have to say, “Me!”

 

“What Did She Say?” — My Answers to Twitter Chat Questions This Week

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What Did She Say? My responses to the Twitter chat, #titletalk

Hosted by Donalyn Miller and others on Twitter

September 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm EST

Q1: What is your definition of “uninspired reader?”

(A1: T.S. said, “ An “uninspired reader” is one who hasn’t had the chance to form a reading identity, feels no sense of ownership.)

My A1: Agree! Many students/people don’t have a chance yet to be inspired.

Q2: Considering your definitions of uninspired readers, what can we do to help Ss find reading personally inspiring?

A2: I make sure I allow my students to like and dislike – and share my likes and dislikes. Opens a door.

Q3: How can we negotiate academic and personal reading goals with our students, so they find reading personally inspiring?

A3: It’s hard to find time for everything. Reading is a non-negotiable. Even 15 minutes a day. Do it for you.

Q4. How can we engage a school/home community in the goal of inspiring more readers?

A4: Many families don’t have books or other reading in the home. Ss and P-T conferences help. Also ads for book clubs.

(E. S. said, “I have a future NBC post on this topic. My own children became uninspired readers because of AR.”)

I replied, “My 2nd daughter hated AR! Wouldn’t read at school. Is a wild reader at home!”

Q5. What books, series, authors have sparked uninspired young readers who you know?

A5: Scieszka’s KNUCKLEHEAD had the whole class rolling! Wild reading of wild stories! Also:

So many! Percy Jackson, Divergent, and 39 Clues, as well as Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Just starting…

(K said, “Several mentions of read aloud as powerful. It really helps level playing field for those who can’t quite access certain texts.”)

Q6. I just finished Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. Intriguing connections to Plath’s Bell Jar.

(I didn’t respond here. I lost the conversation for a bit.)

Q7: Last minute BONUS question: What are you reading your students this week? 

(W.C. said, “Whatever they want!”)

A7: I agree. I said, “I agree with W. They choose. Class reading is The Tiger Rising. Studying setting etc.”

Thank you so much to Donalyn Miller and others who host these amazing Twitter chats! I had a great time becoming part of the conversation!

Slice of Life Tuesday: Running Out of Time

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Running, running, running…

To the school supply stores, to the doctor, to the dentist, to the SCUBA shop, to Ohio for SCUBA day…wait! Today is National Book Lovers Day! I have to read! I cannot believe these are the last days of summer. I agree with a fellow Slicer; I’m not ready!

Running, running, running...

I have draft-planned my first few weeks of school. There are so many great ideas, stories, and lessons. Mostly, I want my students to read and write well, and have fun doing it! Yet, I feel a sense of urgency, and the meetings for staff development start next week — wait! Oh, no, it’s THIS week!

Running, running, running…

With all of this running around, I should be in great shape to start the school year. We shall see!

Curriculum Tip: March 19, 2013

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Thoughts on Oral Reading Fluency 

Recently, I was teaching an oral reading (fluency) lesson that led me to a teachable moment: never mistake “expression” in oral reading fluency with “volume.” As we practiced using modeling and choral reading, I noticed the students becoming increasingly louder with each line of a poem. After a few minutes of this shared practice, there was nothing but yelling — not at all fluent reading!

I stopped the class. I asked why. They told me. “You said to read with expression.

Ah, yes. But…Expression does NOT equal “loud.” Expression does NOT equal “high volume.” Expression does NOT mean “yell.”

Through a little conversation with the class, I found that most of the lessons about expression that I had used in the past were scripts or passages where a character was mad, or was yelling to save some other character from danger.  Although these characters’ words were excellent models to introduce fluent reading with expression, I never did include other expressive passages in the practice phase, such as whispering to quiet a baby, trying to talk while gasping for air after a track meet, or growling to express controlled, mounting anger.

So the tip of today comes straight from my classroom: In oral reading fluency, “expression” and “volume” are not the same.

HAVE A GREAT DAY! (But don’t yell.):)

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