Thursday, June 19, 2014

Reading in the Wild Book Study: Chapter 1

IT'S HERE!!!!! It's time to start our book study on Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. This week, our two hosts are Misty from Think, Wonder, & Teach AND Abby from Third Grade Bookworm.
Think, Wonder, & Teach 
So, read on through my notes, ideas, and thoughts below - then, link up your own posts OR comment below and we'll chit chat about our ideas! At the end of each chapter, I'm going to include TWO goals that I am setting for myself. These goals can be personal goals or goals in relation to my professional world - teaching!
Chapter 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read

From page 3 (just after the introduction), I loved what Donalyn Miller said about what wild reading is.
"Wild reading is readers who incorporate reading into their personal identities to the degree that it weaves into their lives along with everything else that interests them."

This quote hit a home run for me. I believe that wild readers are those that read just simply because they want to! They read on the way to school, at lunch, at recess, on the way home, with their friends, before dinner, after dinner, before bed, and any other available time.

TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book. ~ Author unknown

As we dive into Chapter 1 itself, there are quite a few points that I loved.
On page 8, Miller listed some responses from Wild Readers on a survey they had taken. The responses indicated the various "excuses" as to why people couldn't read. I connected with one of them on a level that was TOO comfortable: "I spend too much time online." Just today, I calculated that I spend anywhere from 8-10 hours online EVERYDAY throughout the summer. Why? I have no clue!

There was another responses I connected with: "I feel guilty that I should be doing something else--playing with the kids, housework, etc." I am not kidding you… I just said this exact same sentence to my husband the other day. I want to read SO badly, but I feel that I should be doing something more productive. I feel like I should be cleaning, working on teaching stuff, etc. But, reading is NOT considered a luxury that's out of my reach… I can do it and I AM doing it daily from now on!
Then, on page 10, Miller said, "Too often reading intervention specialists pull students who require additional reading support out of class during independent reading time. Disregarding the effect of independent reading time on students' reading achievement undermines our intervention efforts over the long haul." Then, below that, the sentence, "Developing readers need more reading, not less." struck home, too.

Too many times, my students this past year were pulled out of the classroom at the most inopportune times, especially during our DEAR time. DEAR time was our Drop Everything And Read time, otherwise known as independent reading time. I NEVER got to see my students that were pulled out complete independent reading. It was very difficult on their self-esteem, too. They were not able to establish that rapport with their classmates where they could discuss books to read, books not to read, and so forth. It was aggravating to me! This will be something I'm going to work heavily on next year to change.
On page 11, there's a point Miller makes towards the end of the page that says, "Life is full of wasted moments in between our daily commitments."

This could NOT be more true. There is so much wasted time throughout the day - transition periods, walking to and from places, etc. This time could be spent READING! I think that this year I worked real well with my students on trying to have very minimal wasted time. During our restroom breaks, they read. During transitions, they read. During downtime, they read (this all ties in really well with the uninterrupted conversation Miller had with her student Tristen on page 13 - PERFECT!). Many LOVED this time because they were able to get back into their groove, but at the same time, others didn't like it because our transition times or restroom break times were not as long as they liked, so they didn't feel as though they needed to read. We'll make sure next year that my feelings of "you can read anytime, anywhere" is definitely conveyed!
Fake reading and reading avoidance. I saw this with several students this year and it broke my heart. But, I'll admit, I was that teacher that called across the room multiple times to say, "HEY! You're not reading! You better start reading!" Instead of correcting the problem, I added to it. I still held a very good relationship with my students, but it just wasn't the best tactic to use to correct the behavior.

Miller talks about on page 27 the warning signs of a student that's not really reading. How many of you have seen students that finish books quicker than you can say "yup?" How many of you have seen kiddos finish only 2 books in 6 months? What about if a student is CONSTANTLY up getting a new book? What about those personal errands (Mrs. V, I have to go to the bathroom - daily during DEAR time)? Finally, what about those kiddos that decide independent reading time is also code word for "talk to the teacher and everyone else around me??"

Oh ya, I had a few of them and they stick out like sore thumbs. But, again, I didn't do anything to solve it. Miller talks about how you should politely and delicately approach your students to talk about their fake reading behaviors. While some students will come back saying they truly are reading, others might also say they don't care too much for reading. RED FLAGS.

I had one student this past year who told me he wanted to read a book, but there was no way he would finish it by the following weekend - it was just too long. So, he put it back. I stopped dead in my tracks and told him to pick the book back up. He picked it up and we talked about how many pages were in the book. This child is not a top reader, but he's by no means at all a low reader. The book was 120 pages long. We talked about goals and setting them for ourselves. He decided, with my help, that he was going to read 20 pages a night and that would have him finishing the book in 6 days. The fact that he was able to consider that goal and THEN go for it, it made my heart melt! Just like the boy Nathan that Miller wrote about on pages 31-32.
Overall, I think this chapter provided some GREAT conversation starters. I think that TIME is my big issue, personally, when it comes to reading. But, as the chapter title says… wild readers dedicate time to reading! This time can be found anywhere, at any time. Binge reading, emergency reading, etc. - all a GREAT time to find a few minutes here and there to read for pure enjoyment.
1.) Make plenty of time throughout the day, no matter where I can fit it in, for my students to read independently. This includes restroom breaks, hallway breaks, lunch room, etc.

2.) Encourage those who are not the best readers to find a book that will be challenging, yet readable, to them. This will make them strive to want to become better readers simply because they're enjoying the story because it's interesting, readable, AND challenges their thinking in comparison to old books they had read before.

Your turn! Link up or comment below with your thoughts, ideas, questions, etc. I cannot WAIT to see what y'all think of this chapter!


  1. I just finished reading The Book Whisperer, and it has truly inspired me to get back to doing more personal reading. Various things have gotten in the way, but I am beginning to get back to things I always did growing up -- like always having a book with me. I'm heading out for all day PD today, and I just stuck my book in my purse.
    I am definitely going to make some changes in my classroom to facilitate more reading. I teach math and science, but I know I can have a big impact on their reading too.
    This book is going on my want to read list!

    Math is Elementary

    1. Hi Julie! I wanted to respond to you via e-mail, but you're set up as a no-reply blogger. So, I hope you see this response!!

      In Reading in the Wild, Miller talks about how we let so much get in the way that we ignore our pleasure of reading and treat it as a luxury. That is SO true and I can see that with you, too! But, the fact that we stick books into our purses or bags or in the backseat of our car, we're working to change that!

      Even within math and science, reading is SUPER important. My students loved our science days when literature was included. Most of it was non-fiction, but they were READING! And they were enjoying it. I loved it.

      I'm glad you came by and I hope that you get the chance to read this book - GREAT points throughout!!


  2. I totally agree with kids being pulled out during independent reading time. It makes me crazy! Yes, they need more instruction, but they also need to learn how to read on their own, and how will they ever do that if they don't have the time? I wish I had more control over that, for sure. :( Loved your points in your post! :)
    ideas by jivey

  3. I am totally with you on the reading "for fun" guilt. I hadn't read a book for fun since my son was born (he's 3) because I thought it was selfish and I had so many other things to do. We went to the beach two weeks ago and I thought, you know what, I'm going to download a book and bring it because this is vacation. So I did. I read in the car (my husband drove) and I knew I'd get sucked in and I did. So now I read at night before I go to bed as a "downtime" for me and it makes me happy!!! We deserve to get lost in a book!!!!

    (and it drives me nuts when the low kids get pulled out during LA. Last year one of my struggling ESOL students was pulled and it was soooooo frustrating! Ugh!!!!)

    Read on friend!
    Collaboration Cuties

  4. I totally connected with this quote, too: "I feel guilty that I should be doing something else--playing with the kids, housework, etc." -especially playing with the kids. I know if I start reading, I won't want to put the book down! One way I have managed to steal time to read personally is on the elliptical each morning, multitasking! :)

  5. #amen! My lowest students rarely have the opportunity to participate in independent reading. They are pulled for intervention or pulled for small groups. I know those things are important, but so is becoming a wilder reader - ahahaha! I love the strategy for sitting down and goal setting to complete a book. This is not something I was very intentional about this year, and really need to focus on. Goals are SO motivating for students, and can help break-up daunting books or tasks. Thank you for the encouragement! :)

  6. Great points! I spend too much time online too...but don't you think eventually that's what our reading will consist of? I don't know...reading the news online, etc. is still a form of "reading" don't you think? I agree with you as well about the lowest readers, they are always getting pulled and ultimately probably end up doing the least amount of reading.

    Literacy Spark

  7. Sara, we used the same quote today for our struggling readers! And, you're right they aren't given that time to bond over books or build their esteem as readers. I plan to make this happen in my classroom next year-we need to collaborate together!!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  8. TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book. ~ Author unknown

    Love this quote!! Thanks so much for your thoughtful and honest post. I appreciate that there are other teachers out there who feel the same!! I am loving the book and looking forward to making some positive tweaks in the coming year!

    XO, Kelly Anne

  9. I'm so glad you shared your success story! Those are the moments that validate the choices we made to be teachers, aren't they?! :)

    I did put my foot down about pull-outs during my Reader's Workshop a couple of years ago. Our principal (thank goodness) is crazy supportive, and works with our SpEd peeps to make sure that it never happens. In fact, they work really hard to "double-dip" our at-risk kids as much as possible so that they're getting as much support as possible. I know that's not the norm!

    I'm also way guilty of the online overdose. It's so easy to do. :( Hoping to build new habits this summer that include more reading and less (gasp) Facebook. :)

    Loved your post!

    Third Grade Bookworm

  10. For me as a new teacher, pull-outs have been one of the hardest things to manage. I feel like my kids need to be in class with me, learning to read and write but yet... they leave. What bothers me the most is that they leave to spend time on a computer screen. Yes,.. I know its educational but I think they would get so much more out of a book. I never thought to say no to it. Thank you for sharing your success story!

    Think, Wonder, & Teach


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