Today my class Book Love, taught by Penny Kittle, at the University of New Hampshire Literacy Institute came to an end. My classmates have gone home, but my flight isn’t until tomorrow, so I find myself in the hush of the library on the eve of July 4 when the campus will be closed, alone.
There’s a quiet here like reverence in church on Sundays. A great time and place for me to reflect on my learning this week, and last.
It was anything but reverent. More like a fire hose without a turn off switch. In a word: revitalizing.
I knew it would be. I came to this same institute last year and learned from Penny. But the powerful learning for me this year happened because she pushed us into reading theory.
Why did I never have to do that in my education classes? You’d think it would be at the top of every class syllabus.
In four days we read a stack of articles about the importance of choice in reading and access to books and the influence of a teacher in the reading lives of children. We read close to half of the essays in Making Meaning with Texts by Louise Rosenblatt. Penny calls her the leading reading theorist of the century, and after reading and discussing Rosenblatt’s work, I believe her. We also wrote three papers that reflected on and infused the reading into our own thinking about our the practice in our classrooms and in our schools.
I am inspired to keep doing my own research as I continue to write what I think will benefit other teachers as they engage their students in authentic and personal reading and writing experiences, a must Rosenblatt says.
I learned many things this week, and I have a list of Ideas to Implement in the back of my notebook that I am determined to carry into my new classroom in the fall.
Isn’t it great that learning continues, improvement continues?
That’s what I love about summer pd — the opportunity to reflect, learn, and get better.
My Ideas to Implement (which include those inspired at the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching.)
- Skype in poets and authors to speak to my students about their writing and their works
- Use “Go World” videos by VISA as mentors for mini-narratives; have students edit their first narrative into a “Go World” video
- Ask students to analyze their writing process, write it out (perhaps creatively), and turn that in with every major writing task
- Use My Ideal Bookshelf as a mentor when students complete their beginning and end-of-year personal reading evaluations
- Watch for students with “social capital” and use their examples to promote reading
- Be more purposeful in my conferences with students. I could have moved more students up reading ladders this year.
- Include a reminder about vocabulary study within the books students are reading at least once a week
- Bring in college syllabi to show students of their need for greater reading stamina
- Create an anchor chart with a hard test that guides students in habits of complex reading
- Do black out poems early in the year as a means of getting students to look closely at language and create their own meaning with literature
- Select books for Book Clubs that are more closely theme related
- Make topic writing notebooks (again) for a place for students to write casually about their choice reading
- Remember story boarding will work for writing stories and for analyzing them rhetorically
- Include Author Talks in book talks to introduce students to an author’s work without having to book talk each one
- Create a reading sign for my new room: YES! You have homework tonight: READ!
- Create a literary category wall, so as students finish books they write a Title Card and place it in the era the book is most like, romanticism, transcendentalism, etc
- Read a poem every day, mostly just for the pleasure of it
- Tell students it is okay to not like a poem; it is also okay to not understand it
- Remember in revision conferences to use the phrase “What are the possibilities?”
- Remember the peace you’ve felt here in New Hampshire in June
Thanks, my friends, for another amazing summer learning experience. Yes, experience. (It has new meaning now, doesn’t it?)