Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Quest to Become a Book Whisperer...Continued

Yesterday I went down into the basement and found this on Molly's whiteboard that she uses to play school.

This is her Daily Four:
Read to Self
Read to Someone
Word Work
Work on Writing

This is what Molly does everyday in her second grade classroom except in her classroom, it is the "Daily Five." I think Molly left out "Listen to Reading" because we don't have a computer in the basement for her students to listen to reading. 

Here's one of her students getting ready to do some word work or work on writing.

Here's another student "Reading to Self" in a cozy corner on the floor.

This is what Molly's second grade teacher uses as a foundation for her reading program. It is based on a book by the title The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. What I love about this way of teaching reading is that the students have a choice in what they want to work on. A similar philosophy to Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, where she talks about giving the students a choice in what books they want to read. Students get to plan their reading time. They can answer questions themselves: What will I do first? What was I working on yesterday that needs to get finished? Who will I work with? They get a say in how they are going to work on reading and writing during this block of time. When I volunteer in the classroom on Thursdays, it is amazing how everyone of these 7 and 8 year olds are on task. They are engaged readers and writers and for Molly, it has obviously overflowed into her own little classroom in our basement. When kids feel they have a say in the matter, it makes a difference.

I've been on this quest to get my kids to read more. I've been trying to match books to my kids that they will want to read. I found this book, The Fourth Stall, last week at the book store and thought it may be a match for Ryan, my most dormant reader. 

 Oh, he can read, and he is on grade level, and he gets good report cards, but he will not pick a book up on his own for enjoyment. I have paraphrased Mark Twain's quote to my kids a number of time, "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." I read the first chapter of The Fourth Stall aloud to him to get him started. He had that look on his face of "Oh, when will this torture be over" but when he went to his room an unusual thing happened to Ryan...he started to read the book. 

The other night I noticed a light coming from under his bedroom door. It was 10 o'clock at night. This usually means he has snuck an ipod touch into his room and is playing a game or he is fooling around with Timmy. But on this night, I walk in and there he was lying in bed reading a book. He didn't even notice me. I pulled out my phone in my back pocket and snapped a picture. No yelling that it was 10 o'clock and you should be sleeping, no confiscating an ipod touch or ds game, no goofing off with his older brother, just a boy quietly reading a book.

Every Tuesday afternoon, Ryan and I sit in the car together for about an hour and a half while Molly does her horseback riding lesson. Our routine is to come home from school so Molly can change her clothes and then we go to Subway to get sandwiches. Molly usually eats hers in the car on the way to her lesson but once we are there, Ryan and I take out ours. We eat together, we talk about our day, I ask him about what's going on in school. It's not often that I get alone time with just one of my kids so I treasure this time that we have together.

Yesterday, I brought Ryan's CCD homework and after we finished our sandwiches we worked on his homework together. Then I pulled out The Fourth Stall for him to read and I pulled out another book, My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian, that I found in his closet for myself. I think I bought it at the last school book fair. The night before, I started looking through some of his books to try and find another match for Ryan. This book caught my eye and I thought I would start to read it. Well, Ryan could have written this book. I could hear Ryan's voice in my head as I read. Chapter one starts with:

Ever since my teacher said I was a "reluctant reader," I spend every waking minute avoiding my mother and her latest idea of how I should use my time. WASTE my time is more like it.

"The librarian said you'd love this book." Mom vaults over a basket of laundry, but I'm too fast for her. I dive out my bedroom window onto the roof of the garage. "One chocolate chip per page," she calls.

This is my life in a book as well. But this is a great book. This book says it's a reading level 2.9, it has huge margins on the side of each page, it has Derek's doodles or drawing of his vocabulary words in the margins, it is perfect for the so called "reluctant reader." But this book is also a good story. It may be a level 2.9, but the main character is twelve years old. There is a mystery that would interest an older kid as well. Derek finds a ten year old newspaper in the attic from Martha's Vineyard with an article about a teenage girl that had drowned. Why did his mother save this paper? Who was this girl? They don't even live close to Martha's Vineyard, so what would it have to do with them? But it does. 

So there Ryan and I are, sitting in the car like every other Tuesday afternoon and Ryan asks me what I'm reading. I give him a little summary, I tell him that the book reminds me of him, I read this first line of the book and he is hooked. He wants to trade books, his The Fourth Stall for my My Life as a Book. I tell him to finish the book he is reading now first and when I'm done reading this book I will pass it on to him. So the two of us quietly reading together, both reading different stories but feeling a bit connected to Ryan as we read simultaneously. 

After a while, Ryan looks up and asks, "Do you think if I ask my teacher to read this aloud to the class she would? I think other kids would really like this book as well." 

"I don't know Ry, but it doesn't hurt to ask."

"I'll ask her if she wants to read it after she's done reading the book we are listening to now."

My "reluctant reader" wants to SHARE a book he is reading because he is enjoying it!!! Think about it, he didn't say, "I want to write a 2 page book report," he didn't say, "I want to make a diorama of the setting and the main characters!" He wants to share it with his friends. Isn't that what we do after we watch a great movie. We talk about it with our friends. We ask them if they have seen it too. We tell them, "Oh, it was a great movie, you have to go see it!" We talk about our favorite parts and favorite lines. We need to talk about books like we talk about movies.

Last night at dinner, we shared what we were reading. Molly shared Bunnicula, a book her teacher is reading aloud in class. Timmy is reading Catching Fire but didn't say too much because he knows I'm going to read it and he didn't want to spoil it. Shannon is still reading Countdown and I shared a scene from My Life as a Book, that involved a monkey, a cowboy hat, and a dog. I was laughing out loud as well as everyone else at the table. As all this is going on, I notice Chris quietly sitting at the other end of the table looking down at his lap. 

"Chris, what are you doing?"

"I'm reading The Fourth Stall. I'm up to page 19. This is actually a pretty good book.

I just put The Fourth Stall Part II and My Life as a Stuntboy into my Amazon cart.

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