I am a reading teacher. I teach first grade readers all day: one-on-one intervention with our most at risk readers in the morning and then literacy block in a classroom in the afternoon.
I am also a reader. Ok…so I used to be more of a reader before I had two small kids, but in my heart I am a reader. I love books. I have always loved books.
Donalyn Miller speaks to my heart. She is a teacher who loves books and wants her students to love them, too.
I love teaching readers…but I’m going to be honest and admit something to you…I do not love literacy centers. I try really hard to love them. I want to love this time. I love teaching guided reading groups and know that the other kiddos need to be engaged in something to make those groups possible, so I’ve survived 10 years of literacy centers. Every year I tell myself “There has to be a better way!” Five hours every week my kids work in centers. They have to be getting more out of it.
I change something every year and honestly, this year, I felt like I made some progress toward creating an enjoyable, meaningful center time for my first graders. I gave my kids one or two “must do” activities to complete. After those were finished, they were free to choose from a wide variety of literacy games, computer activities, independent reading, etc…
For this class it was pretty effective, but I’ve always envisioned myself teaching in a room of readers. Playing sightwords games does not build readers. It makes school fun and helps kids learn words, yes, but creating a child with a love of reading? Certainly not.
I talk about refining my plan for centers to everyone..my principal, my building literacy coach, my co-teacher, my husband (who is not a teacher, but sort of listens anyway)…honestly people are probably sick of hearing me. Well, friends, Donalyn might have saved you from having another conversation with me about centers.
In Chapter 1, she shares her struggle of refining her practice to better teach her students. Trying, refining and trying again. Using a workshop model, which looks different in her middle school room, than my first grade one, but is rooted in the same ideas: choice and natural responses.
Now that I’ve confessed and rambled…some organized thoughts…
I’ll be honest that Reader’s Workshop in first grade scares me a little bit and I’m still working on how this will look in my classroom, but I am officially committed to making a real change. I’m not getting rid of the sightword games…the kids love them and school should be fun.
Going along with more authentic reading and responding, I’m working on reorganizing my classroom library to make it more student friendly. I’m going to break down the books into more categories and add reading levels to the books so that students can gauge if they are appropriate for them to read, or might be better to retell or invent (especially at the beginning of the year). I’m hoping this will make the books more approachable and also help me to aid students in selecting the right books for them.
One last thought, and my favorite quote from this chapter:
Be sure to check out the other fabulous posts about The Book Whisperer or link up and share your thoughts!
Here’s my blank organizer if you want to use it and post along…