Summer Reading

One of my very favorite things about summer is the time I have to read. I have vivid memories of riding my bike to the public library during summer vacations when I was in elementary school. I would check out 12 books (the most they would allow), balance them precariously in the basket of my bike, ride home and devour them on the screened in back porch and then ride back to the library to get 12 more. Summer days spent reading were the best. I still feel that way now.

I started my summer by reading several “just for fun” books. Elin Hilderbrand is one of my favorite “beach book” authors, as well as Chris Bohjalian. Now that I’ve decompressed a bit and am in full-on summer mode, I’m diving into my professional reading stack. Of course, I’ll make sure to mix up the professional reading with plenty of pleasure reading too.

Here’s what’s on my professional reading list:

Teaching in the Digital Age: Smart Tools for Age 3 to Grade 3 by Brian Puerling

Talk About Understanding: Rethinking Classroom Talk to Enhance Comprehension by Ellin Oliver Keene

What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton

Choice Words (I always reread this one in the summer) and Opening Minds by Peter Johnston

Blocks and Beyond: Strengthening Early Math and Science Skills Through Spatial Learning by Mary Jo Pollman

The Play’s the Thing: Teachers’ Roles in Children’s Play by Elizabeth Jones and Gretchen Reynolds

Magic Capes, Amazing Powers: Transforming Superhero Play in the Classroom by Eric Hoffman

Already Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten (rereading & discussing with my Kindergarten team) by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover

Young Mathematicians at Work: Constructing Number Sense, Addition and Subtraction by Cathy Twomey Fosnot and Maarten Dolk

In Pictures and In Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study (another reread but I want to do more with this next year) by Katie Wood Ray

Happy summer reading, friends! Enjoy.

What’s on your summer reading list?

Do you have favorite books you read and reread as a summer ritual?

Literature Circles Continued

If you saw my post the other day, you’ll remember that I’ve been thinking a lot about literature circles or book clubs lately.  We can teach children to facilitate their own discussion groups.  I especially like to see these happening in grades 3-8, but I’ve also seen them work well in grade 2.

You might want to pick up a professional book on the topic this summer. Here are a few I’d suggest:

Harvey Daniels, Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs or Reading Groups, Stenhouse, 2002.

Harvey Daniels (or Smokey as he’s known to his friends) is probably the person most responsible for getting many teachers to think about literature circles.  In this second edition he clears up the confusion about “role sheets.”  In some classrooms, he says, they became “a hindrance, an obstacle, a drain.”  He explains that the roles are “intermediate support structures” and that each role was designed to “support collaborative learning by giving kids clearly defined, interlocking, and open-ended tasks.” In this text he moves from role sheets to a training process.  On pages 55-71 he gives four training options.

Jeni Day, et. al., Moving Forward with Literature Circles, Scholastic, 2002.

This book will really help you begin the year with careful practice of discussion groups.  The authors help you map out a way to begin with whole group read alouds and practice different ways of talking about text before moving students into running their own groups. The lists of prompts to get discussions going on various topics will be helpful to novice teachers.

Kathy Collins, Reading for Real: Teaching Students to Read with Power, Intention, and Joy in K-3 Classrooms, Stenhouse, 2008.

Although Collins is not talking about literature circles, she does use reading partnerships. The partnerships are student-led discussions and are meant to support students as they delve deeper into texts. The two members of the partnership read the same book or books by the same author and then “grow ideas” together about their book, characters, series, author, and so on.  Collins has the partners fill out a “Reading Partnership Contract” (an adaptation for book club members would be easy.)  Their contract begins, “We will try our best to work well together to help each other become stronger readers, thinkers, and talkers. Here is a list of things we will do as partners (book club members) that will help us do our best work together.” Then the students create a list and sign their contract.

Other ideas from Collins’ book involve the T-charts she often uses. For NonFiction reading:

Column 1: What we noticed, learned, and found in the text.

Column 2: What it makes us think, wonder, and question.

Or if students are reading fiction, make a T-chart about characters:

Column 1: What we noticed about our character.

Column 2: What ideas we grew about our character from the things we noticed.

Comprehension Through Conversation, Heinemann, 2006

Maria Nichols has two wonderful books out – Talking about Texts, Shell Education, 2008 and Comprehension Through Conversation, Heinemann, 2006. Both texts will help you teach children about what good literature conversations look like and sound like.

Shelley Harwayne, Lasting Impressions, Heinemann, 1992.

This book is probably already on your shelf! Has it really been 20 years since I first read this book??? Consider rereading the first four chapters. Even though it’s mostly about writing, the reading connection is so profound.  She opens the year by encouraging kids to respond to great literature and poetry.  Again, literature circles are not mentioned specifically, but the idea of teaching kids how to delve deeply into texts is ever-present.

Please feel free to add any other ideas of professional texts, blogs, or articles that relate to implementing book clubs in your classrooms.