I am about to begin my 6th year as a reading teacher. I was placed in this position because of my strong background in literacy for K-2 which is where I had taught for 20 years. Now I work with students in grades 3rd-5th, not my background! For the past three years I've been trying to figure out the best approach to meet my student's needs. These are the books that have inspired me and are helping me to become a better teacher. I'm beginning my 35th year of teaching and still striving to improve.
I started out by reading Daily Five and CAFE and even had the honor of attending Gail and Joan's workshop in Rochester. The following year I took their online course to get a better understanding and loved the course and the research I did to complete it. It gave me a much better understanding of what works in reading. Since I only see my students for 40 minutes every other day doing the Daily Five was not going to work but I modified it and we did read to self and read with a partner and worked on the CAFE strategies. I had a CAFE board for each group and the children chose their goals and worked toward them each day. I hate to admit I got away from the goals last year but I plan on getting back on board this year.
The following summer I read The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild by Donalynn Miller. I loved both these books. Last year my students filled in book logs to track the number of books read and they read books of their choice most of the time. Now instead of having time to roam my whole library I gave students 10 books to choose one or two they'd like to read. The pile of books was selected by using a reading inventory the students filled out the first day of class and what I learned about them as the year progressed. We also discussed TBR piles what we wanted to read over every break from school.
The next book I read was Notice and Note by Kylene Beers. Improving my student's comprehension is a big goal and this seemed like it would fill that need while still giving students choice in their reading materials. I focused on this mainly with my fourth graders this past year because a few of the classroom teachers were reading the book as well and wanted to try it out. We all found it worked well to get the students talking about their books and developing a better understanding. This coming year the fifth grade teachers are going to give it a try and the fourth grade team will begin introducing the signposts at the beginning of the year.
This summer I read Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Soalarz. Again, seeing my students for a limited time limits how many of his strategies I can use but I plan on trying to implement some things. I try not to talk for a longer amount of time than my student's age but I don't give them much time to talk. And last year I got away from partner reading. So, to begin with I plan on introducing Give Me 5 for the students to share: signposts they find, when they finish a book, when they read a book of a new genre, ask for a definition of a word, two minute warning for end of class... other suggestions? I think it will be disruptive at first but I hope they'll grow used to it and be able to go right back to work. I'm also going to let students do partner reading this year as well as let them listen to books on tape. Another goal is to do some reader's theatres and book talks. I also plan on some partner writing and in the back of my mind I'm toying with the idea of a passion project, just not sure how that will work with our schedule.
So, there you have my role models for trying to put together a relevant and engaging reading classroom for my students. When my students leave me my biggest wish is that they see themselves as readers.