I’m sure you’ve seen the poster about “Everything I learned in life, I learned in Kindergarten.”  ‘Sharing’ was undoubtedly one of those things.  In fact, learning to share starts even before that.  Two of my grandchildren are two years old and we constantly remind them about sharing nicely.  When Reilly starts to complain at the pool because a little boy is using her watering can, I say, “Remember we brought those toys to share.”  And when Brenna lays on top of 100 legos trying to guard them with her life, her mom says, “Lincoln came over to play with you, Brenna, so you have to share your toys.”

Sharing.  It’s one of the reasons I love teaching so much.  Teachers are famous for sharing.  They share ideas, materials, books, lessons, quotes, and so on.  In other careers or businesses, it might be all about competition — who made the most sales this month or who has the best, new, innovative idea?  But teaching is much more about collaboration and sharing than competition (or, at least, it should be!)

Lucy Calkins once shared an idea with me by signing my copy of her book, The Art of Teaching Writing, many years ago.  She wrote, “…and when you get there, there is no there there.”  Now, granted, she may have written that to 100 others, but I got her message. It helped me stay a learner all these years. And it suggested to me that I should never think I have all the answers, but should remain open and tentative about what I believe the teaching of reading should be.  I use that example to show that sometimes just sharing a saying or quote can mean a lot to a teacher.

Just the other day, on this blog, Katie wrote about sharing what you are reading. She shared a few professional books on her pile this summer.  I’m sure more than a few teachers took note of her recommendations.   Also, have you noticed all the fantastic literacy blogs lately? They are usually nothing more than a teacher sharing his/her thoughts, ideas, and reflections. There’s never enough time to read them all, but I encourage you to sign up for a few.  And they’re FREE.

I just finished What Readers Really Do by Barnhouse and Vinton from Heinemann. It’s excellent. My favorite parts of the book are the charts that they put at the end of some chapters: What we used to do/ What we do now.  I’m always interested in the shifts in teachers’ thinking as they learn and grow.

While reading the text, I was reminded of the idea that Katie and I tried to sort out in Catching Readers Before They Fall.  Having concerns about some of the strategy teaching we’d seen, we talk about the difference between spotlighting a strategy as opposed to teaching strategies for strategy sake. We emphasize the integration factor and urge teachers to keep meaning-making front and center.  Well, the authors of this new text go much further with this idea than we did.  Their book is fabulous.  Even though their examples are from third, fifth, and seventh grade classrooms, there is definitely something for everyone in this text.  In fact, I liked it so much I emailed ten really smart teachers I know — some Literacy Collaborative folks, some K teachers, some 5th grade teachers, a university professor, a retired reading teacher — a nice mix of ages and experiences. They quickly bought it and began reading. Presently, we are picking dates to get together to share our ideas and reflections.

Teaching is all about sharing.  I hope you will share an idea, reflection, book, or even just a quote with another teacher this summer. Anything you’d like to share right now? Feel free to comment.


  1. I love this and you are so right Pat! It’s all about sharing. That’s why I’m excited to be apart of the #cyberPD to study and dig deeper into Johnston’s “Opening Minds.” An online group of teachers willing to take some summer time to read, reflect, and share their thinking. Thanks for taking the to say this so eloquently! I’ve seen this book in many of to-be-read piles, and I guess it’s time I add it to mine! Thanks for the nudge!

    • I’m looking forward to the #cyberPD book study as well! Reading is such a social activity for me. I need to talk about what I’ve read to process, reflect and go deeper. I think of how our reading workshops are structured too – are they open for sharing and lots of talk? Even at the kindergarten level this is possible, and in my opinion, essential. Thanks for your comment!

      • Katie, I think you are right, reading is a social act and we all (kids included!) need time to process and talk about our reading, but — yes, the but — it can seem like an overwhelming task! I feel that our days seems so crunched with curriculum (not standards) and we don’t always give the proper time to students to allow them to think and share. I think the adoption of the CCSS will lead us to more engaging conversations about reading rather than focusing on the text, the basal, the book. It’s a challenge, but like you said, essential to include lots of time to talk during reading workshop!

  2. I am one of the teachers you (and the book) refer to. I taught strategies and thought everything was great. Then I noticed my students filling out forms to share their thinking, but in discussions they were unable to extend their thinking beyond the literal or connect the parts and verbalize new ideas. I am in the middle of “What Readers Really Do” and am loving it.

  3. Okay- I know I need it as well. During Reading Recovery training they warned us about strategy instruction…
    I’m currently reading (well, not at the moment because I loaned it to my daughter-in-law and I’ll get it back next week) Lucy Calkin’s new book Pathways to the the New Common Core. I recommended it to three teacher friends in our district because it is a great read full of much needed information .

  4. Pat, I loved this post as well. I appreciated the quote that you shared from Lucy Calkins.

    Lani, I just finished Pathways to the Common Core as well and have been sharing it with colleagues.

    Michelle, I started Opening Minds earlier this year and am hoping to finish it up this summer. I am looking forward to hearing what you say about it!

  5. Pingback: Book Discussion « Catching Readers Before They Fall

  6. Pingback: Readers Front and Center | Catching Readers Before They Fall

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