Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Summer Reading

It's summertime and like so many other educators, I'm enjoying some much needed R&R to get recharged for a new school year. Like you, although school is out, it is never far from my mind. I use some of my time to reflect, attend conferences, and revise curriculum maps, but much of my time is spent curled up, blocking out the chaos of life, and simply reading. I spend hours engrossed in an story, wrapped inside the story line, and standing beside the main character. I feel their turmoil and rejoice in their triumph. This is what Aimee Buckner calls experiencing the story.

Aimee in her new text, Notebook Connections: Strategies for the Reader's Notebook, claims that readers visualize a story in three different ways; still pictures, motion picture, or experience. Readers who get totally engrossed in reading, who experience the reading, like I do, become life-long, avid, reflective, thoughtful readers. They are able to move beyond the still and motion picture to being a part of the story-connecting with it in such a way that they will forever be a reader. Isn't this what we want for all of our students? We want to help them become avid, reflective, thoughtful, connected readers. We want them to pick up a book and read even when it is not expected of them. We want them to love reading, for it to become a life-long pastime.

Teachers of reading grapple with how to teach students to become this type of avid reader. Because, like me, some didn't experience this magic until adulthood. They, like I, were taught from a basal reading text. I didn't have teachers who shared their favorite stories; I didn't get an up close and personal glimpse at a particular author; I was never taught how to visualize or infer or synthesize to more deeply understand text. (My former teachers may disagree with me.) As an instructional coach to reading teachers, I try to devour as many professional texts on reading as I can. I try to understand how reading passion develops for young learners, and what we, as educators, must do to assist their reading development. I know that many of you share this same passion as we seek out reading best practices. As we turn kids on to reading.

One of my colleagues, dayle timmons, shares my passion, and is a veracious reader. She's a stalker of Stenhouse and Heinemann waiting for new literacy texts to hit the market, and when they do, she's always the first to order them. Aimee Buckner's, Notebook Connections: Strategies for the Reader's Notebook, was one of those text. She passed it my way and I think she meant for me to give it back after a first read, but I'm quite certain she had no idea that the text would be earmarked, highlighted, coffee stained, and passed along to another colleague to take on vacation for beach reading this week. What dayle passed along for my summer reading was a gem-one I will add to my toolkit. Of course, she knows, another one is on order for her.

Aimee Buckner has written a practical guide for helping teachers use the Reader's Notebook. In this easy to read guide, she shares snippets from her classroom of lessons she's taught and ways her students have responded in their notebooks. She shares student responses so readers can see actual student work generated from these lessons. Her last chapter also addresses using the Reader's Notebook as an assessment tool.

If you are looking for a way to increase your student's reading reflection or want to assist them in articulating their thinking, this text may guide your instructional practices. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Melanie Holtsman said...

I have this book on my nightstand as I write this and I can't wait to read it! I loved her first book: Notebook Know How and it really guided a lot of what I understand about the writers' notebook. Thanks for whetting my appetite and inspiring me to get reading!

dayle timmons said...

You must be a really good friend if I passed on a book BEFORE I read it! I love the way the author explains visualizing. Sometimes "sensory images" is a strategy that we don't see as a priority and just give it a cursory glance and yet it can make the difference in becoming a lifelong reader! Just recently I aligned our county's Core Reading series with the Keene reading strategies and I was surprised to find almost no lessons on visualizing/sensory images! To leave that out in teaching our youngest readers comprehension is such an injustice! Can't wait to read this book!

Mrs.Mallon & Mrs. Dillard said...

Geez Suzanne,
If it's that good, pass it my way. Love to incorporate new and exciting ways of learning for the students and myself. Still a couple weeks of summer left for the "beach read."