Monday, February 4, 2013

Hints Toward a Reading Life

Sometimes it is good for teachers to take a few minutes out of our day, and observe--to really observe the small things, the littlest hints, the tiny reminders that what we are doing as lovers of books is truly making a difference in the minds of our students on a daily basis.  Sometimes I question or wonder, "Am I really making a difference?"  "Do my students love books more now than they did last year?"  "Am I equipping them to become life-long learners?"

So, I've been noticing a little more lately, and observing the "small things."  None of the revelations below are necessarily new or "other-worldly," but what I've found is encouraging.

  • I see students taking books with them to every class to squeeze in some reading time.
  • Students often can't wait to tell me about another book they just finished.
  • They choose persuasive writing topics like asking an author to add another book to a current series.
  • They choose persuasive writing topics like asking teachers for more independent reading time.
  • My kiddos groan when it's time to stop independent reading.
  • My students cheer when it's time for read aloud (and complain when I stop reading).
  • It's becoming harder and harder for students to come out of "the reading zone" during independent reading.
  • They are working on strategy instruction beyond the "literal" level, and are making deep connections, revelations, and thoughtful observations about characters and events.
  • They are beginning to really "own" the idea of keeping a "Next Reads" list (not just because I tell them to keep such a list).
  • They actually read (and trust) other students' book recommendations!
  • They are seeing the value in stretching beyond their own genre comfort zones.
  • They are becoming better "previewers" of books, and are abandoning books less often.
  • Students are problem-solving words, and looking at context more meaningfully to gain understanding.
There is still a lot of teaching and learning yet in the year, but when I get a bit discouraged, or when time just seems to slip away, I know I can stop and reflect on this list, and know that it is purposeful, meaningful, and real.

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