Phillips Summer 2018 Children's Literature discussion

The Book Whisperer Chapter 6

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message 1: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Phillips | 4 comments Mod
This is where you will post your new learning after reading Chapter 6 of The Book Whisperer. You are encouraged to respond to other discussion posts as well.

message 2: by Curt (new)

Curt | 4 comments The book review idea intrigued me. In class, we talk about building a community of readers because teachers and librarians alone can’t read all the books, but every one can read books. The idea of kids making their own reviews is empowering to the reader and helpful for teachers in more than just another thing to grade. In class discussion, we agree with the text: kids are more likely to read a book their classmates recommend rather than a professional book review. So why not give that power to the kids? Why not show them they have power? Why not show that they can empower their classmates to read? Letting the kids right their own book reviews perpetuates their classmates to see what we do and can get out of books further than a book report, further than a grade.

message 3: by Joshua (last edited Jun 09, 2018 08:58PM) (new)

Joshua | 4 comments In chapter six of “The Book Whisperer," the one piece of new learning I discovered was the section “One Size Does Not Fit All." The traditional practice of whole-class novels has slowly chipped away the love I have for reading. This book aside, because it’s a book about changing how people read, a lot of the other books that I’ve had to read week to week and chapter by chapter, have been draining and uninspiring. So, I can relate to when she said, “Breaking books into chapter-sized bites make it harder for students to fall into a story. Few readers outside of school engage in such a piecemeal manner of reading (Miller, 125).”

The other part that stuck out to me was when she talked about whole-class novels devaluing prior reading experience. I moved around a lot when I was in middle school and high school, and I ended up having to reread the same book because one school would read "To Kill A Mockingbird" in the 7th grade; another school wouldn’t read it until 9th grade; and then the third time I moved in high school they were reading it in the 11th grade. So, by the time I had graduated high school I had to read "To Kill A Mockingbird" and discuss it in three different classes.

That was basically the final nail in the coffin for me when it came to enjoying reading. I don’t want that to happen to future students so I hope in the future that schools take a look at books like this and start trying out some of the compromises that Donalyn Miller suggests, such as “reading the book aloud to students and share-reading the book (Miller, 126).” This might help prevent future burn-out with students and reinstate a love of reading for them.

message 4: by Jenni (new)

Jenni | 4 comments What I found interesting in chapter six, was the alternative to book reports and book talks, "Book Commercials". I have never heard of doing something like this as a way for educators to verify that students have actually read the book. According to the text, the purpose of these book commercials is for the students to make quick advertisements about a book they've read and enjoyed as a way to encourage their classmates/peers to read the book as well. The goal is for the students to share just enough information about the book so that other students would become interested in that book and read it as well. Donalyn Miller discusses how students will keep a list of the books that sound interesting to them in the reading notebooks. I thought this was an interesting take on how to prove the students read the book without having to write a book report or get up and give a long summary of the book, possibly giving away spoilers to the rest of the class. Students have to have read the book in order to give reasoning behind why they are advertising this book to the class. I thought this was a really neat idea and I can see students really getting into this because they have choice in what books they read and actually get to enjoy the book and discover the reasons they enjoy the book, rather than laboriously picking out information in the text that they think the teacher wants them to write/talk about.

message 5: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 4 comments One of my questions after reading Chapter 2 was: “If children are not reading the assigned books and the books are required by the school, what are we supposed to do?” I’m glad this chapter finds different ways to try and answer that. Something new I learned was the positive effects of the whole class novel (I realize that’s obvious but I’m very used to only hearing that it doesn’t work): examples of skills taught, common literary experience, fosters community between student and educator (Miller 127), etc. There are probably some budgetary reasons too. However, I believe that these positive effects are overshadowed by the problems caused by it. These effects are only for those who are reading the book successfully, not those who are falling behind. Another thing I’d never thought about was what someone would do if they had already read the novel assigned to the class (125). The assignments are probably “easier” but they’ll also be incredibly bored.

Reading about reading logs made me remember how terrible I did when they were assigned in elementary school. I’d always forget to ask my parents to sign it before they went to work. I’d do the reading, but get in trouble for not getting the signature, which I always felt was very unfair. I felt a bit better reading that a lot of others have this experience. I feel that a book review would be very useful in an attempt to improve the reading method. When I was younger I was so worried about not liking a book, having to read it for weeks and then having to write an entire book report on a book I didn’t even like! I feel book reviews would be a good way to learn how to formulate opinions. Even if a review is from someone who didn’t like a book, if their review is good then someone could still pick it up to read.

message 6: by Starla (new)

Starla | 4 comments Based off of the first page in chapter 6 it hit home! Instead of spending all of this money on research go to the people themselves, in this case being the students. I couldn’t agree more with what the students had to say about spending more time on worksheets or homework than it even takes to read the book. Many times, we forget that our greatest resources are right in front of us instead of spending money that is unnecessary for viable feedback. I think that the “seeing the wallpaper” would be extremely beneficial to all schools! Having the freedom to be able to make suggestions and examine the way practices are being used. This should also be available to the students to make suggestions as well. This would make school more interesting for many students.
A beneficial learning is knowing that reading a book as a classroom and overloading students with homework is extremely irritating for many students and it does not always improve them. You have to keep students motivated about the book rather than just throwing worksheets at them. How do you know that they actually learned anything is what I tend to ask myself? I also found that it was interesting that many students find reading as a burden rather than a pleasure to be able to read. I used to dread having to do this because most of the books I had no interest in or if I did I wanted to continue reading the book vs. waiting for the rest of the class to do it as a “group.”
One of my biggest take always/memorable ideas/new learning within chapter 6 is that one size does not fit all. This is based in short terms that you are not going to be able to please all readers with one novel. When I did classroom observations with 6th graders the teacher just read a chapter or two of the book to the class. Then the class talked about it briefly and predicted what was going to happen next. They were not required to do a bunch of worksheets about was read. This allowed for students to brainstorm new ideas as well as talking to others about the chapter or two that was read. Though I am sure the book did not “fit all” the students were not forced to do a bunch of work on something they were dreading.
I also found that on page 132, “Programs like Accelerated Reader (AR) or Scholastic Reading performance counts, in which books are assigned a point value and students must complete a multiple-choice test after reading them, are the worst distortion of reading I can think of.” This statement made me say BINGO! Having AR programs usually gives students some freedom to read what they want, however, there is a cap. You cannot go outside of your reading level, you can spend many hours reading a book you hate due to the point value and how many points are necessary to get a good grade. Many times, these test students fail because they are random and can range from 5 or more questions. There were so many really good things from this chapter I could go on for a while!

message 7: by Emily (new)

Emily Caveye | 4 comments What I found interesting in chapter six was basically all of it. Although the one thing that really jumped out at me was the idea of book groups. Instead of having your whole class read one book to get a certain point taught, you pick a ride range of books that focus on the topic you are trying to teach. She gave the example of World War II and had her class read a variety of different topics relating to that. Then all of the students came together to discuss their books different view points. This way you can cover more material and the different types of readers aren't lagging behind or getting too far ahead of the others. It makes it interesting for everyone, and the teacher.

I wish my teacher's would have incorporated these types of strategies when I was in school. I wasn't a doormat reader or really an underground reader. I loved to read, but hated the fact that I had to stop reading in order to complete assignments. And like Mrs. Miller said I didn't get to enjoy what I was reading because I was just searching for the information that might be on an assignment or test. I would have loved to do the book groups or the book commercials and I look forward to incorporating them into my classroom one day. I do not want my class to be boring and just another place that students need to "get work down" I want to teach them how fun reading is and can be. I cannot wait to read the rest of Mrs. Miller's book to find out how I can be a better teacher.

message 8: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Adams (Haruhara) | 3 comments The portion of chapter 6 that stands out to me as the most interesting piece of new information is the section on selecting "one theme or concept that students are expected to understand, gather a wide range of texts on this topic, and form book groups" (Miller, 2009, pg. 128). This approach does first what the district or school board wants, which is gaining understanding of the required concept or theme. Secondly, it allows you a great number of options to engage readers to open up to new books and genres. In selecting multiple reading options for students you can pick multiple genres on the subject. In her example of reading books for a unit on World War II you can select historical fiction, sci-fi, non-fiction, drama, etc. This allows you to introduce genres that students may not normally read. It also allows you to be able to select works at a variety of reading levels so that no one is struggling too hard to keep up with their group or so bored from a book below their reading level that their interest drops.

By using different books for each group it also lets students become the advocates for books other groups did not read. If Jimmy read "book A" and Susan read "book B" they may end up discussing their books and get the other into the book they didn't read and thus getting students to potentially reading more than just their required book for the course. This can be further facilitated by using a fun activity to promote the books to the other groups. She mentions using book commercials to "provide students with a forum for sharing the books they love and for recommending those books to other readers in the class" (Miller, 2009, pg. 137). Doing these commercials as a end of unit assessment tool gives students the chance to hear about all the books they didn't read in the unit. While still in the mindset of the subject matter students will have a deeper understanding of the themes at hand and can look more at what makes each story unique and hopefully hear at least 1 other book in the unit they want to read for themselves. This also gains group work skills as students prepare their commercial to benefit other potential district standards as well.

message 9: by Dani (new)

Dani Kraft | 3 comments Chapter 6
The Book Whisperer
Dani Kraft

Chapter 6 was a very important chapter for me. Miller really has such a perfect mind for teaching. The way she looks at teaching strategies, especially the one’s concerning reading amaze me. Reading can be one of the toughest subjects to teach because there is really only one way of testing it. Mrs. Miller comes out with different ways to test students. This is amazing, because it gives students the chance to not worry so much about what their grade will be and focus on the reading itself. Miller talks about how she understands there are certain standards in curriculum that we have to follow, but has alternative ways on how to teach these books in class.
My favorite alternative book report as the Book Commercials. This was because I think it is a fun way of presenting in front of a group. Not many people are fond of presenting, but this makes it look like fun. The student is asked to talk in front of their class about their book in a commercial like tone. Or in other words trying to get their fellow classmates to read the book they read. This is a great idea for suggesting books to children as well. If they see their peer like a book the odds are high they will as well want to read that book too. I know that children would have fun with this, even if they did not want to admit it. I for sure will be using this option as an alternative book report in my future classroom.
Mrs. Miller really does have such an open mind. Throughout the chapters you had us read, I really knew that teaching was right for me. Sometimes before this class I was nervous because there were a lot of things I wanted to change in the classroom. All because I did not think it was fair to the kids to force them to read what they do not want to read or do boring book reports that make the children more nervous. Now that I see Mrs. Miller, and her thoughts on those things too, I know that I should be a teacher. Having an open mind and being able to work with new ideas is important for any classroom and chapter 2 and 6 really do well explaining this to future teachers like me.

message 10: by Riley (new)

Riley Thomas | 4 comments Chapter 6
The Book Whisperer
Riley Thomas

The part of this chapter that I liked the most was the section about alternatives to whole-class novels. She gave the idea to read the book aloud to students which gives an advantage to students who have difficulty reading and who wouldn't normally be able to keep up with the class. An easy way that teachers could incorporate this in their classroom is to pull a small group of students who struggle with reading out into the hallway and read aloud to them while the rest of the class reads quietly to themselves. This may be an easier way to follow along for students who learn best through listening. Another alternative that I liked was to share-read the book. The teacher would read the book aloud to the whole class while everyone follows along with their own copy. I like this idea because it can bring more life to the story by the way the teacher reads it. Adding enthusiasm and fluctuation can make any story more interesting. The only fallback to this idea would be that some students and advanced readers may get easily distracted and not pay attention. You could incorporate students in the class by assigning certain advanced students to characters and have them read aloud when that character speaks.

message 11: by Justina (last edited Jun 11, 2018 12:20PM) (new)

Justina Wemhoff | 4 comments Justina Wemhoff
Children’s Literature
Week 2 Professional Reading

I discovered from the reading that it is important to teach reading in a way that lines up with “personal beliefs about reading and the habits and skills shown by life readers, not just school readers” (Miller, p. 122) Instead of focusing so much on teaching ‘great novels’ or classics, the focus needs to be on teaching how and why they should become life readers. Show them that it can be fun! The students don’t need to be bogged down by tons of activities and assignments to teach them about the book. Most importantly, they need to read it, be given some time to read, discuss, and enjoy. I was very rarely given time to read assigned books in class. Instead, the reading become homework along with all of my other class’ homework. That immediately took pleasure out of reading.

In highschool, we read the books assigned and did assignments and quizzes. However, the actual discussions for the books we read were very narrow and often focused more on the writing style, author, vocabulary, and how to approach discussion appropriately because of certain content. The term that Miller uses in the book is “hyper-analyzing literature,” which is definitely what happened most of the time. We didn’t have much chance to share our views and responses to the book. It was more often just quizzes to check that we’d read, preparation for those quizzes, worksheets, and essays. Often, the essays didn’t even give students flexibility in choosing the essay focus. The discussions we did have about the books were often about the teacher’s objectives and what she wanted us to get from the book, rather than a discussion in which the students shared their own thoughts, feelings, ideas, and analysis of the books.

Before reading this chapter, I never even realized that there is no single national standard requiring students to read specific books. Miller pointed out that reading strictly classics in class is like gearing the class toward future English literature majors. As those that enjoy classics are a minority, it is important to try other books as well. That will help the students explore different types of novels and hopefully find books that will help make them life readers! When I was in high school, I thought it made sense to have month long units on a book. Looking back now, it definitely stretched out the experience and the book’s story in a way made learning about it boring/less engaging. I liked Miller’s suggestions of reading aloud and share-read in a children’s setting and occasionally an intermediate setting, but I do not think I would have enjoyed those methods as a high schooler. I really liked Miller’s idea that a teacher should select multiple texts showing one theme or concept and then form book groups. This gives readers choice and exposes them to more books. Those are always positives in a classroom. I also think the book pass activity is fantastic. Not only are students having choice, they are getting some class time to really explore and see what jumps out at them before making that choice. If I had been given options and a brief time to choose like that, I would have been much more engaged and excited to start reading my personal selection. Choosing the text immediately helps students have some sort of a connection to the text. With Miller’s WWII Unit, having a selection to show students’ differing viewpoints is extremely vital.

My personal experience with comprehension tests is that they have taken away from learning from the text. I could get too caught up on what I needed to get from the book for the quiz rather than spending time analyzing the text or falling into the story. Test prep is definitely beneficial, but students must be shown that there are many other types of reading. Surprisingly, I agree with Miller that book talks are really equivalent to book reports and should not be the main instructional method for students to share that they have read the book. Dialogue is essential to create a community of readers, so I really like the book commercial and review idea. I liked Miller’s advice to let the students give each other recommendations rather than putting recommendations strictly on the teacher’s shoulders. Again, this all helps build a reading community. Internal motivations create stronger life readers than external motivations such as grades. I also think it’s a great idea for students to be given a chance to preview/pre-read what material they’ll have to read aloud. This gives them confidence to read aloud, and they have more chances to comprehend what they’re reading.


Miller, Donalyn. The Book Whisperer. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass (2009). Print.

message 12: by Caurie (new)

Caurie Kuzelka | 4 comments One main take away I got from this reading is that there are many alternatives to tradition practices like making students read a book and then testing them. I have always been the kind of writer she describes on page 135 that never reads and then right before the due date, suffers through and cranks it out. I can relate to children who don't like being told to read. Admittedly in school I would usually look up notes and summaries of books just to get enough information to skate by like I had read the book. This is why I appreciated all the alternatives that Mrs. Miller talked about like book commercials.

By finding new ways to ensure your students have actually read the book, I think it has potential to change the way some children view books. I think that if reading wasn't shoved down my throat in middle and high school I might have grown up to enjoy it more. When she said "Imagine how much less television we would watch if we had to take an assessment after every show?' that really stood out to me because it is true! Being constantly tested on books has drained the joy from me, and many current students, and hasn't allowed us to ever really enjoy reading.

I loved this chapter and related to A LOT of the content. I am glad that there is someone out there like Mrs. Miller who is trying to come up with alternatives to traditional practices so that students can begin to fall in love with reading again.

message 13: by Brandie (new)

Brandie | 4 comments The part of this chapter that captured me the most connected me to my own child who I believe will not succeed when it comes to whole class novels because if it doesn't interest him, he won't read it. I loved how Donalyn Miller said that "No one piece of text can meet the needs of all readers." I love this mainly because of my kids and seeing who they have become as readers. I also love this because every kid in a classroom will be on different reading levels with different interest and dislikes. This means to me that the reading selection needs to change and the kids need to be able to read what they enjoy. The whole class novels take months to finish and are actually very hard to follow, which i know from experience and with my own children. When you take a month or two to read certain chapters or pages of a book you lose track on what happened especially if you aren't very interested in it. This is why i agree with Miller that whole class novels are not the only way to teach critical analysis and reading skills. I also learned about alternative options to book reports which i have never even considered before. For example, book commercials are used as short stories that the students make from a book that they have read. I think that its a good way to build on students learning rather than an average boring book report and it lets them be creative in their thinking as well.

message 14: by Carmen (new)

Carmen | 6 comments Chapter 6 was very interesting and full of useful tips for me as a future educator. I have always heard from many professors and past teachers that the best way for a student to read and understand a book is to have them summarize and do book report after book report. As a current student, who has ready one too many class novels, book reports only made me dislike reading and made it seem as if I was a lazy student. In reality, that book report didn’t teach me to read nor did it teach me to like and enjoy reading. Instead many of those book reports and whole class novels, turned me away from reading. “No one piece of text can meet the needs of all readers.” This quote from Donalyn Miller spoke directly to me. As a younger student in West Omaha, reading was always pushed upon me. In the classroom from middle school to high school, many times a class novel was assigned. These were assigned many times throughout the year. I would always start out positive and strong, telling myself “I’m going to read this book cover to cover, just like my classmates.” That lasted about a week. The books that the teachers had chosen were either written in what it had seemed like the 1800s. They were dry, used many words I wasn’t familiar with, and all told the same story…from what I read at least. My teachers were not picking books that were meeting everyone’s needs, especially not mine. Too much time was spent reading these boring and bland books. All that time spent reading as a class and taking chapter quizzes should have been utilized. Donalyn suggests selecting a theme or concept that students can use in their lives. With my teacher’s choices, I wasn’t improving nor was I enjoying. One great thing I will take away from Donalyns quote about “No one piece of text can meet the needs of all reader” Is that I have the personal experience to understand that not every student wants to learn about the scarlet letter or about Huck Finn. There will be students who will excel with fantasy and sci-fi reads instead. The theme in “The Book Whisper” is choice. I will take choice into my classroom and leave class novels in the dust.

message 15: by Carmen (new)

Carmen | 6 comments Joshua wrote: "In chapter six of “The Book Whisperer," the one piece of new learning I discovered was the section “One Size Does Not Fit All." The traditional practice of whole-class novels has slowly chipped awa..."

Josh, I chose to talk about the same points in my post. I too think that the class novel alternatives are much more effective for students rather than reading chapter after chapter. Reading as a class wastes so much precious reading time for individual students. There will always be studetns who do benefit from class reads, but most likely those strong reading students will unconsiously hog reading time from the other students thus not giving them the practice time they are in need of.

message 16: by Alexa (new)

Alexa Marshall | 4 comments The first thing that stood out to me in this chapter that I absolutely loved was the concept of a "book pass" activity that Miller mentioned. There have been so many times in my academic career--especially in high school, where we were assigned the task of choosing one novel (out of a set of given optional novels) to do book groups. The option of choice was there, which I applaud my old teachers for doing, but weren't ever given a sufficient amount of information or time to preview the novels before being told to select ours. I remember being not even a quarter of the way through reading Ethan Frome, one novel option out of the three that I had hastily chosen, wishing that I would have never touched the book and would have chosen Tess of the d'Urbervilles instead, like some of my peers had. I think that if as a class we were able to have just a little bit more time in class to physically hold the books and read the first couple pages or flip through the book, a lot of us might have chosen differently, and in turn would have enjoyed the novel that we were reading for class.

Another thing that stuck out to me was how I have seen, now even in writing, that a teacher hates class novels as much as I always have! When i was younger, I really enjoyed when my teachers read to us as a class, but I have always disliked assigning the whole class the same novel--not because the books were always bad, but mostly because it took forever. In my English class during my sophomore year of high school, we spent over three months (almost the whole first semester), covering Huck Finn. As Miller pointed out, we could've all finished it within a week--maybe two, but it was dragged on for an unnecessary period of time. We spent about the same amount of time second semester focused on reading 1984. I personally enjoyed reading that book, but the worksheets and essays and repeated busy-work tasks took the fun out of the novel and I have not touched it in the years since.

Hearing, or rather reading in this case, a teacher validate my thoughts and wariness on whole class reading and dragged out book reports makes me happy. It also makes me happy to know that thanks to Miller, I now have other tools for myself and my future classroom to use instead of relying on book reports, such as book commercials.

message 17: by Maritsa (last edited Jun 11, 2018 08:31PM) (new)

Maritsa Vazquez | 4 comments I like how Miller explains why comprehension test, book logs, book reports, and popcorn reading do not work. I remember cherry-picking moments I thought may come up on the test later, filling out logs at the last minute, and losing focus after my turn in popcorn reading. As a student, I did not enjoy reading because these practices made reading feel like a chore. I absolutely love Miller's alternatives for book reports, especially the book reviews. Book reports usually end up being summaries of important events or facts from the book. However, book reviews are a creative way for students to share information about books they have read, especially since students are more likely to choose books based on other student's recommendations. Allowing students time to read professional book reviews helps them become familiar with key elements of a good review. I think it is important to provide students book review criteria and a chart list of enticing words to help guide them because many times when I read book reviews I come across spoilers or full summaries. Overall, book reviews are a great way to encourage students to read and try new books and give them an opportunity to share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences about books they've read. I look forward to trying student book reviews in my future classroom.

message 18: by Nikki (new)

Nikki Ibarra | 4 comments The Book Whisperer Ch. 6
This chapter is going to be extremely helpful going into the classroom as a new teacher, especially because I plan on teaching the upper grades. It’s so great to see alternatives to many of the old traditions, such as Round Robin, that I absolutely dreaded as a kid. I knew those techniques were ones I was going to try to find myself moving away from, but I hadn’t yet thought about how exactly I could do that. As I stated before, Round Robin is a big one I grew up hating and I was reminded by it in my Intro to ESL class when we discussed it. The anxiety that came with it was awful and it caused me so much stress when I was forced to read along with those who struggled. Although I was told not to practice this technique, I was given only one alternative to substitute it, but this book gave me so many better options and ideas. I really like the alternative where the teacher reads the book aloud while the students follow in their own book. This helps both the audio and visual learners in the classroom and hopefully it gets the meaning of the story through to more of my students.
Another thing I found interesting was the book logs that were brought up. I remember challenging myself to read every night because I wanted to fill my log and get my certificate to receive a free personal pizza, so I always thought of this technique as successful. Fortunately, I came across this book to tell me the hard truth and I’m so relieved to find out now rather than later. I think it is so amazing how Donalyn Miller has been able to motivate her students in such different ways than the norm and I’m so excited to implement these techniques into my everyday teaching to encourage students to become avid readers.

message 19: by Nina (new)

Nina (NinaCox) | 5 comments In Chapter 6 of The Book Whisperer, the author delves into the practice of Standardized Testing and what shocks me the most is how she says that by 6th grade, most of her students have spent the past 3 years in which test preparation and the drilling of test-taking strategies were the most common type of reading instruction they received. It is no wonder how many children have such a negative feeling towards reading, if that is what they are being subjected to. Students begin to feel that reading is a chore as opposed to something that is enjoyable. She says, "The high-stakes nature of these tests have disrupted quality reading instruction." I can definitely agree with this. This way of learning, in addition to the world that children currently live in (the age of Smartphones, Tablets, Media, etc), is very concerning, since it is widely known that these things negatively effect the amount of time that children actually read. I know of many parents who have stated that they wish their children would show more interest in reading, as opposed to being tied to an electrical device. But with this endless test prep in schools and the approach that schools have towards reading, who can blame them? I love how the author tackles this issue by making standardized testing a Genre, so that it can stand apart from the rest of reading in general.

message 20: by Nina (new)

Nina (NinaCox) | 5 comments Jenni wrote: "What I found interesting in chapter six, was the alternative to book reports and book talks, "Book Commercials". I have never heard of doing something like this as a way for educators to verify tha..."

I really enjoyed this as well, Jenni! It surprises me how many of us would easily turn towards having our students write out a book report, not having the knowledge that there are so many other options! I think that not only would the students enjoy these other alternatives, but I wholeheartedly believe that they would gain a better understanding of the books that they read.

message 21: by Caleb (new)

Caleb R | 4 comments In chapter 6, I enjoyed how the author talks about traditional practices used in the classroom for reading, the problems that arise from it, and the solution. For example, on page 146, the author analyzes popcorn reading, a practice I vividly remember in elementary. Each student would read a paragraph or two and call on someone randomly to continue reading where they left off. This may seem like a fun practice at first and a game because no one knows who is going to get called on next, so every student followed along really well in their books. However, this practice was deeply flawed. I was a fast reader in elementary, and it was extremely difficult to read along at someone else's pace. I found myself reading ahead and being very embarrassed once I was called upon and had no idea what part of the story we were at. Some of my fellow classmates who were slower readers disliked popcorn as well because they were embarrassed to stumble along the words and take longer than the other students to read their share. This reading practice is outdated, and thankfully the author provides an alternative way of handling reading books in class. Pairing each student with someone of the same reading level helps minimize the pressure and embarrassment and also allows the students to read at a relatively similar pace. I wish we had practiced this when I was in elementary. I think it would have allowed the students to better comprehend the books and enjoy them a lot more because they would be more relaxed, less embarrassed, and eager to ask and offer help to their buddy.

message 22: by Nyapot (new)

Nyapot Hogan | 4 comments Wow! Donalyn Miller has amazing insight! So much good stuff packed in Chapter 6. But what really stood out to me was some of the things she pointed out about whole group novels. In "One size does not fit all" she breaks down the different ways that reading a novel as a whole group is not always effective. One line says It takes too long. I agree with this because when I was in sixth grade I remember my teacher would read us The Chronicles of Narnia The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I felt like the book was taking so long when I really just wanted to go ahead and read something different. Even though that book is an amazing read I wanted to just go off by myself. Another thing that I've caught about Miller is that she emphasizes lifelong readers. I love her quote "teaching readers, not books." You can tell this woman was devoted to truly teaching her kids to read and love reading. Not just in her class, or so she can have outstanding readers, but an investment for the child. Breaking everything down to what they can understand (I wish I had her as a child) My mind has been blown. Who knew you can teach test reading as a genre. Her students must have really done well with all the dedication and detail she put in. You can tell that Donalyn Miller was a phenomenal teacher who truly wanted her kids to love reading for the rest of their lives.

message 23: by Brian (new)

Brian Duffy | 4 comments What really stuck out to me was how the main goal was to trim away any activity that didn't consist of reading, writing, or discussion. Miller was insistent that activities that couldn't be contained in those three categories are not only superfluous but in some cases could be harmful to readers and frankly I agree. I was ecstatic when she wrote that "Laboring over a novel reduces comprehension" I felt like she read must have read my mind back in high school. I hated the classic books we would crawl through in class. The only time I liked them was when I had previously read them for fun on my own time or when I read ahead to the end. That way I read at an enjoyable pace and really savored the book. I was surprised when she stressed the value of reading-aloud. I tend to associate that with beginning readers but admittedly, while I consider myself a strong reader, I lack the practice that would prevent me from tripping over my words when reading aloud. (Although it's possible that is more linked to my slight stutter.) This chapter really made the ideas in this book more concrete. I knew not to simply teach to the test and to instill a love of reading but this provided more practical techniques to use. While I do not plan to teach, there are still library reading programs and now I feel prepared to use which techniques work best.

message 24: by Huyen-Yen (new)

Huyen-Yen Hoang | 3 comments After reading chapter 2, once the inspiration wore off, I was left wonder how I would go about guiding students towards becoming lifelong readers. The previous chapter had done a fantastic job at explaining why it was necessary to focus on ways that would achieve this goal, but it did not explain how. This chapter gave me great insight on how to approach this.
Miller’s ideas for alternatives to traditional “wallpaper” tools were insightful. I enjoyed how she clarified some common problems, such using tests as a tool to improve reading skills, book logs, and lengthy books reports. In my childhood, although an avid reader, I too, despised the reading logs that remained untouched until the due date. Book reports only served to prevent me from starting another book. And tests? The tests almost converted me to become an avid non-reader. One alternative I loved reading about was her section on incentives. I too, believe that through cultivating a student’s innate ability to enjoy reading, they will have a better chance at improving.

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