With only a week to go until school starts, I’ve been frantically trying to prepare myself for the changes I want to make in my classroom. As I mentioned in my post about The Book Whisperer, I want to incorporate more reading in my classroom and make the assignments and assessments more authentic. Instead of teaching books to students, I want to teach the students through books. Thankfully, Donalyn Miller followed up her work in The Book Whisperer with a book that breaks down the facets of what she does in her classroom and gives in-depth descriptions for her process, procedures, and activities in her classroom. She’s made the book very helpful to teachers like me, who were left with questions like, how does this work? How do I track the students? What specific goals/behaviors do you have?
In her follow-up book, Reading in the Wild, she begins by outlining what behaviors readers exhibit outside of a school setting that help them succeed in reading. Then she explains what actions she takes in her classroom that helps scaffold and teach students to become independent in that behavior. This organization method has made it easier for teachers who, like me, want to replicate her method in our classrooms.
Part of me wanted more from the book. I wanted it to be very detailed and specific and that’s one complaint I had against the book, at first. But then after I finished it, I realized that what she’s done is given me her goals and enough details to get an idea of how she applied her goals in her classroom so that I wouldn’t be copying her. Instead, I am forced to reflect on my own goals and craft procedures and processes that reflect my own classroom context. This was a smart move on her behalf. Instead of making a one-size-fits-all model, she’s given us an outline and challenged us to make it applicable to our students and community.
I appreciate the details she does give and the fact that several teachers in my building are on board with this method and are willing to work with me to try it. I hope that by the end of the year, students in my class will not only be wild about reading, but can enjoy and be successful readers outside of my classroom.