Children's Books

Friday, November 11, 2016

Donalyn Miller Visits Lincoln School

Today was the day. The day I have been dreaming about since July. Today was the day that Donalyn came to share with the teachers at Lincoln School.  We've been studying her books, reflecting on our practice, and making changes as a community of readers. Today was the day we were going to be able to hear directly from Donalyn and have the chance to ask follow-up questions.  
Donalyn answering questions from 4th graders
I got so much out of today's experiences, and here are some of the thoughts I want to continue reflecting on.
  • Reader's Purposes- Donalyn brought up the fact that we talk with students a lot about author's purpose, but we don't talk and teach enough about reader's purpose. My kids who are struggling during independent reading probably don't have a purpose for their reading.  I need to work with my kids through mini-lessons and discussions to determine the purposes readers have for reading. 
  • Classroom Libraries- I have a very extensive classroom library, but there is always room for improvement. Last spring I started getting rid of books that the kids haven't read in a long time. My next step is to start working on how the books are organized. I need to get kid input for this part. How can we organize our classroom library in order to make it easier for kids to access the books they need and want? I also need to look with a critical eye to see how diverse the books in my library are.
  • Read Alouds- "Let the students experience the books the way the authors intended."  Donalyn suggested that we read books the first time with kids all the way through, just the way the authors intended that they be read.  Then we can take the kids back through the book a second time in order to read for a different purpose. That's what we call close reading.
Donalyn leading the afternoon professional development.
                    There were so many other topics we talked about. (I'll save those for another blog.) 

On a personal note, I'd like to thank the amazing people I work with.  My principal, Julie, was supportive of this whole thing beginning with the moment I told her I had won the visit from Donalyn. She supports our desire to work together. I'd like to thank Colbi and Scott for their support and excitement. A big thank you goes out to the entire Lincoln faculty who willingly studied Donalyn Miller's books through our book studies when they have many other things going on in their professional and personal lives. 

I'd like to give a final thank you to Donalyn Miller. She was friendly, flexible, encouraging, and real with us today.  Donalyn, you an open invitation to stop by and visit with us any time you want. You're now part of the Lincoln Family. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Teachers Reading

     Yesterday was the last meeting of our Reading in the Wild book club. It's been so inspiring to be part of the conversations our teachers are having regarding students and reading. The work we've been doing has impacted more than just the teachers sitting around the table during lunch.

  • Parents- At the recent PTO meeting, parents talked about how they appreciate some of the instructional changes that have happened. They like the new logs teachers are using, and they see the community of readers that is growing.
  • Students- I keep hearing, "My teacher is reading that book, too." The kids notice what we are reading. They make connections between readers. I had a 4th grader ask if he could read my copy after I was finished.
     Donalyn Miller will be visiting my school tomorrow.  I'm so excited and a little bit nervous.  It's kind of like when you bring a new boyfriend home to meet your parents. Will she like our school? Will my fellow teachers be inspired by her work as much as I am?  Tomorrow is going to be a great day.