Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Book Whisperer - Reflection #6

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio.  As I read Chapter 6, "Cutting the Teacher Strings" I enjoyed reading Donalyn's thinking about practices that have been around a long time and how she examines their goals and if those goals are truly met with such a practice.  Donalyn talks a lot about whole class novels and this is not appropriate to use in kindergarten at all.  I found myself reading her work and thinking about my high school daughter, wishing her reading life was being embraced and fostered during high school.  Right now, she is immersed in whole class novels as a junior and gets frustrated by the choices made for her by someone else.  I believe in stretching reader's genre selection and thinking.  I wonder if allowing student's a choice from a collection of Mark Twain books might be more beneficial and motivating.

Next, Donalyn talks about comprehension test and this makes me think about my youngest daughter.  I love this message from Donalyn, "We cannot confuse assessment techniques with motivation techniques, either.  Reading for the goal of performing is not motivating for students beyond their desire to earn a good grade on the test and may actually reduce their reading enjoyment and enthusiasm for reading outside of school."  

Tests are here to stay.  Tests are frustrating.  Donalyn encourages us to have children read widely so they can think critically about what they have read.  She believes this carry over will help all students meet minimal expectations for any standarized test.  Test preparation is not reading instruction that can carry over to new situations in real life.  Donalyn does a study for reading tests and I have done that in the past when I taught third grade.  We need to find the balance of fostering true readers in our students and guiding them to pass and be successful reading a test. 

Donalyn shares book reports and book talks are not motivating nor do they create readers.  They create pressure to read and lack personal interest for the student.  She suggests book commercials as an alternative method for sharing and recommending books to friends.  Book commercials are shorter and don't give away the plot or sequence of events in hopes of enticing books with other readers.  Another alternative for book reports would be a book review.  Book reviews foster book evaluative thinking.

Other traditional structures Donalyn writes about include reading logs, round robin reading, and incentive programs.  I don't use any of these structures in kindergarten but I have used reading logs for years.  I gave up keeping track of pages read years ago.  I did enjoy the monthly calendar format I created to help my readers look at genres they were reading to help balance their reading choices.  I can see why Donalyn thinks these are not needed.  If students read the same books at home and at school, you will be able to know more about the genre choices they are making daily.  

This chapter is a great resource if you questioning anything you are currently doing.

1 comment:

  1. I am sort of cracking up right now....title of the next blog post in my google reader is, "A Book Report Project for Any Book"

    I think Donalyn Miller is a breath of fresh air and am so glad she shared her thinking with teachers. Thanks for reminding me of how much I love The Book Whisperer.

    Chickadee Jubilee