Sunday, July 18, 2010

Post 204!

I have been so busy remembering to blog daily that I haven't paid attention...I crossed 200 posts a few days ago! My friends ask, "How do you find something reading oriented to talk about every day?" My response, "How can I not have something reading oriented on my mind every day?"

But today is about me. My head has been spinning, my body on overload.

Preparing for school never gets easier. There are always new things to try, new arrangements...and this year I have a new school, new room, new's so exciting, but crazy too.

I sat down yesterday and started thinking specifically about how I want my Reading Notebooks to look this year. I let Nick watch videos nonstop for over an hour...felt guilty, but I need to have that time!

Reading Notebooks aren't simply a place to write down favorite parts or log minutes read. It is a whole philosophy...

Here's where I start. There is an ongoing section of the notebook called "Reading Identity" -- that's where I focused my thoughts yesterday. It is very normal for kids to come into my third grade classroom without a clue about themselves as readers. What do I mean? I mean, what are their preferences--their interests--their habits as readers?

Knowing those things unlocks the mystery behind why they love/hate reading and areas to grow. For example, I will ask them to list 10 things they are nuts about on a page, and then ask them to reflect on what that says about them as readers. I know -- kids that age are not very abstract, so I usually sit and conference with them and talk about what I see and then they add to it. But some kids have very deep understandings.

Here's Ben's list:
1. family
2. video games
3. space
4. TV
5. money
6. books
7. playing with friends
8. dogs
9. helping people
10. cub scouts

Looking at this list, it tells me volumes about Ben. He and I talked, and I told him that I knew exactly the right books for him and why. For example, because of number two and four, he would love graphic novels, especially choose your own adventure ones. He reminded me of the books Meanwhile, Wimpy Kid, and Club Penguin. The fact that he loves space, I recommended lots of nonfiction books, but also the Magic Tree House Midnight on the Moon and If you Were the First Kid on Mars. He loves books already, number 6, so we are a leg up. I recommended Math related books for his money interest...Kings Commissioners, Greedy Triangle, How much is a Million...and he reminded me he likes the workbooks at school too. I asked him to tell me what he's nuts about in terms of family. He said it was being together and going on trips and having fun. So I have a few books there...Henry and Mudge, Seven Silly Eaters, Harriet You'll Drive Me Wild! There are a great deal of family oriented picture books.

Overall, this tells me a few more things...he's not a huge fantasy buff, or mysteries. Those might be two areas I can grow him in. I could transition him from Space to fantasy pretty easily.

So that is simply one page in the Identity section...It is a great way to start with kids.

Something to note is when kids can't come up with a list. It can be one thing. It doesn't have to be 10. Use that one thing as a jumping off point.

I use this Identity section all year long. We revisit it every few months to see if we have changed or how we have stayed the same. It is facinating to watch the kids grow in their understanding of themselves as readers.

Knowing themselves means they stop needing others to tell them what they need to read. And isn't that what we want??

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