June 24, 2010

Professional Reading: More Wonder and Books!

I've read a couple of great teacher books recently that have no direct correlation with school librarianship but I'm going to be keeping them in my library and putting them under teachers noses, quoting from them and using some of their ideas as much as possible.

Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough's  A Place for Wonder grabbed me the instant I heard about it.  I set up a "Wonder Wall" bulletin board in my classroom last year and recorded some of the best student-generated questions throughout the year, some of which we researched.  Many of them were about science and astronomy along with some crazy 2012 mythology that was fun to find out the truth about.

Their book takes that idea and just adds more.  More question-generating, more research opportunities and more ways to connect it to the student's own nonfiction writing.  It's written for the K/1 crowd, but the ideas of pursuing an inquiry-based approach to student reading. writing and research are great for any age.

I completely agree that the best and most motivating research we do is from questions we have on our own.  Whether it be about buying a car, finding a suitable mate, or trying to find out if that myth about full moon fever is really true (it's not, of course but it's fun to read about).

Donalyn Miller takes the same idea toward reading in The Book Whisperer.  It's much more motivating when it's self-selected.  This is hardly a new idea.  Stephen Krashen, Frank Smith, Jim Trlelease and Nanci Atwell have argued in favor of it for years.  But Donalyn Miller pushes the idea even further and writes so well about it I ate the book right up.  She lets her students read read read and has them taking and giving book recommendations like nobody's business.  At the end of the year when the dust settles, her kids blow away the state test but that's not why he does it.  Her goal is to "show students how to embrace reading as a life-long pursuit" (p. 4) and this just happens to be the best way to create better readers, students (and it shows on the tests).

She bemoans the dry-as-chalk-dust way reading is taught in schools and the boring whole class novel approach.  She asks, "are we teaching books or are we teaching readers?" (p. 85)

Heck, yeah!  It's a highly motivating book.  I could go on an on about it, but I'll leave you with this quote, from page 112:

"Your love of reading is the best part of you."


The Book Whisperer book and blog

Lunar Effects (Full Moon)

A Place for Wonder

4 comments:

Peaceful Reader said...

Both these books sound wonderful and full of good inquiry ideas. I've decided to work on research right away with students this year, using their own questions. I left it for last and we had so much fun but not enough time.

Beth S. said...

I LOVED The Book Whisperer. I read it a few months ago and am completely overhauling my classroom next year to set it up just the way Donalyn Miller does. Her structure of requiring kids to read self-selected books by genre is brilliant.

And BTW, I love your Wonder Wall idea! I think I'm going to steal it since I'm always SO bad at figuring out what to do with bulletin boards. I'm one of those people who want to do one and leave it up for the whole year because I hate doing them. Methinks a Wonder Wall is one of those things that can stay up all year! :o)

Jim Randolph said...

Peaceful Reader,

Yes, it's definitely worth kicking off the year with and making it a thing. Have fun!

Beth,

Steal away. It was nice to have something for the whole year and the kids were more engaged with it since we added to it all year.

Thanks,
Jim

Z-Kids said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I'm going to hunt down both of these right now...
Z-Dad