Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 7.09.14 and #cyberPD week 1

NF PB 2014          

We know that a big part of the CCSS is to include more informational texts into ourstudents' reading.  I quickly discovered I had a "gap" in my reading diet - the genre of informational texts!  To help me fill the gap this year, I am going to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays!  This is a great link-up hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.  Please visit this website to see other educator's link-ups.  My goal is to read at least one informational text each week and post information on the blog.  The more books and subjects I read, the more I can encourage (my #OLW for 2014) other teachers to use in their classroom! 

I'm reading what you're reading!  Part 2:  Longer nonfiction texts

I love this weekly post because it has added to my nonfiction reading.  But sometimes it takes me seeing a book a couple of times in a post before I pick it up.  All of the books I'm spotlighting originally were reviewed on someone else's blog or their Goodreads post.  I'm showing them again because maybe for you, seeing it here will be what gets you to read the book!

Food Trucks!
Food Trucks! by Mark Todd
This book is so timely as these trucks are becoming more and more popular!  Each page spotlights a truck and gives it an appropriate name.  The Taco Food Truck is "Amigo", the Barbecue Truck is "Bubba Q"....  The food trucks are drawn to perfection - decorated just right and many have menu boards that give more examples of items found on the truck.  The description is told in verse with just the right amount of information, and not overloaded with details.  If you do want to know more information, there are captions around the food truck illustration that gives more about the food truck or about the food it carries.  While not a very long book, if reading all of the information on the page and discussing the illustrations, I imagine this book would take a few days to read out loud.

Wow, I Didn't Know That: Surprising Facts About Animals
Wow!  I Didn't Know That:  Surprising Facts About Animals by Emma Dods
You could probably stretch this book over a couple of days, but it would be a long read for younger readers in one day.  Really fun and interesting facts, many left me saying "really???"  For example:
* did you know a gorilla can catch a common cold??
* how about some cats are right-pawed and some are left-pawed?
* or did you know a crocodile's tongue is stuck to the bottom of its mouth??

Shimmer & Splash: The Sparkling World of Sea Life
Shimmer and Splash:  The Sparkling World of Sea Life by Jim Arnosky
Arnosky wrote and illustrated this book after doing research by spending days observing water from a small boat and wading in shallow water.  You can tell his interest in the subject by his descriptive writing.  He often "talks" straight to his reader, as if having an invested conversation with a close friend.  The illustrations are vivid, bright and eye-catching.  I love the beautiful paintings and the small sketches are fascinating to look and see the details.  Any ocean unit should include this book.

Deadly!: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Creatures on Earth
Deadly! The Truth About the Most Dangerous Creatures on Earth by Nicola Davies
Davies does a great job compiling deadly animals and then writing about them in a way that shows why they are important, how they are deadly and how one is always worse than the other!  The entire book can be used as a read aloud, or just to research a particular animal, or a particular deadly way of protection!  Illustrations instead of photographs, some are more graphic than others!

This week is the first week of #cyberPD.  Many of us are reading Donalyn Miller's newest book Reading in the Wild.  It's not a new book for many, some have already read it, but it's great to go back, reread or read for the first time AND discuss!
I read this book back in January, but I'm excited for the opportunity to not only reread, but also discuss with fellow bloggers and people on Twitter.  To see the links for other bloggers, please visit Cathy Mere's blog Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community.

Here are my {random} thoughts about the Intro and chapters 1-2

* Something that stood out to me is the notion that kids must think of themselves as readers.  Amongst a few other things I read, I guess I never really thought about what kids think of themselves in this regard.  I teach, they learn.  That's it right?  Not really.  Not if we want our students to continue what we're doing at school in their own time.  It's a mind-shift for me, but one I want to remember.  I know from my other reading and research that if kids think of themselves as readers and develop reading habits at home during the school year, they are more likely to continue those habits during school vacations!

Something to remember for this school year:
* I am one of the reading specialists in my school.  Instead of just providing reading interventions, I also work with teachers in their classrooms to continue to develop reading practices in their rooms.  A question I would ask that I would like teachers to ponder this year is "When thinking about your classroom, what do you do to foster reading habits with your students?"

Chapter 1:  Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read

What I want to remember:
* We cannot expect parents to continue our reading structure from school at home.  Sometimes they do, and that's great.  But often, life gets in the way.  We need to show students who they are as a reader so they embrace that and then understand how to continue this even when they are not around school.
* I love this quote "We cannot tell children they need to read more and refuse to offer any time for them to read during the school day." pg 9.  But isn't that what we do?  Time to make a conscious change!
* Donalyn talks about how so often kids who receive interventions are taken out of independent reading time for their intervention.  Kids who need time to read the most, aren't getting it!  We were not doing this at our school, but we were taking the kids out during reading block time.  Were they missing instruction?  No, but is there a better time to take them out?  Yes!  And I'm happy to report we are going to try something new this year.  We'll see how it works!
* I love the idea of teaching kids what "reading on the edge" is.  Carry books around.  When are you sitting there doing nothing when you could be reading?  Put electronics away (especially in the car) and read!  Every minute counts and adds up, it doesn't have to be in succession.
* I liked the Independent Reading Observation idea - taking time and data to analyze why a student isn't reading.  Great for talking with students and parents!
* I also liked the status of the class idea.  Don't have to use it all year, but great to get kids started!

What surprised me:
* The idea of talking to students about their reading habits and their reading lives.  Wow.  This could be powerful!  I'm thinking the difference it can make in students to think of themselves as having a reading life!

A question:
* When I first read about "reading on the edge", I talked to so many reading students, and even parents, about this.  But no matter how hard I tried, it's very difficult to get students who struggle with reading to actually spend time reading.  We are also coming from a school that relies on guided reading.  All independent reading time is done without teacher conferences.  I know that could be the pinnacle of making this work, but right now we do not have that model.  We've made changes with making reading more visible and getting things going in the right direction, but it's baby steps.  I've worked with struggling readers and tried getting them hooked on books and given them a choice, but getting them excited about reading, or reading outside of school has been tough.  How do you promote this with kids who really struggle?  Those kids who decode independently on a first or second grade reading level?  Any primary teachers, do you have any thoughts?  Please leave them in the comments!

Chapter 2:  Wild Readers Self-Select Reading Material

What I want to remember:
What I'm noticing as I read this book, is so much of it is common sense, but Donalyn takes it to the next level of making sure it makes sense to the students and making them be more reflective about themselves.  I think a lot of teachers have rules for their classroom library (although I really liked the one about "sliding" your book in and out of places) but I liked some of her thoughts about dividing them up by genre, knowing what the popular and current series are, and I loved Mr. Schu's recommendation for weeding out books with the MUSTIE acronym.  

* I think teachers try to recommend books and put good books in their reading corners.  But take it to the next level - discuss with students, where do you get book recommendations from?  Make sure they know how to get book recommendations!
* Students need to learn how to choose books for themselves.  If they have places to get recommendations, it will be easier for them to get book choices.  Do they know what kind of book they like?
* I thought this quote was powerful, "Students who cannot successfully choose texts that meet their personal and academic reading goals fail to develop a vital skill that all wild readers possess." pg. 47
* When talking about read-alouds (especially as a tool for book recommendations) make sure you vary the genre you read aloud.  If all we do is fiction, that's all you are exposing your students to!
* Lots of great ideas about creating a reading community.  Very powerful when students think of themselves as being part of a reading community.

What surprised me:
* The idea of abandoning a book and talking to students about how this is ok is not new.  But, I liked the idea of teaching kids strategies of how to get through the "draggy parts".  I had not thought of that before!
* The concept of never giving students just 1 book idea - always give them a choice.  How many times in the past have I done that?  Recommended one book and said "oh you'll like this one."  I guess that student really didn't have a choice but to like it???

Lots of good thoughts already!  An idea that is sticking to me already is the concept of talking to students about their reading lives.  The more aware they are of one and what it is, the more they will understand themselves as a reader.  This could be a powerful transition this year!


  1. Michelle,
    It seems Donalyn has your head spinning with possibilities! Getting kids excited about books and seeing themselves as readers is the most important and exciting part of my job! You may have inspired a blog post!
    You might want to check out Still Learning to Read by Franki Sibberson, she talks about reading interviews with readers and understanding your readers life. Also, Cathy Mere (host of this weeks #cyberpd, is moving into reading intervention and has some great thoughts!)
    I will let you when I get that post ready!

  2. You had some of the same reactions that I did, Michele, like being intentional about conversations with students concerning how "wild readers" do things-reading on the edges, etc. As for struggling readers, I had more than one at the middle school level. One resisted so much that I had him tested to be sure he was okay. He was, but continued to protest with "I hate reading", & did only what was necessary to complete research, etc. One thing I did with him is that I read books "with" him. He, and I, found books that he thought "might" be okay, & we former our own little book group, so I led him through the book, showing my thinking. It helped. I'm not sure he had ever had anyone tell him how readers think before. He could read, was accomplished enough to comprehend, but I think early thoughts of "unlikes books" had caused him to believe he didn't like it at all. Good luck with your own problem-solving in this area.

  3. Michelle,
    Guided reading has always been the heart of our reading instruction too, but more and more teachers are understanding the importance of that one-on-one conference time. How to fit conferring in is a conversation I often had with teachers when I coached and now I struggle with it myself. So I was lucky enough to be a part of a residency with Ellin Keene a few years ago and she gave us some smart ideas to think about, especially redefining what a reading conference is. We always have kids reading when they come to a guided reading lesson and teachers listen in, prompt, question. Ellin asked, "Is this not a conference time?" Some of our staff is discussing Reading in the Wild this summer and we had this conversation last week. How can we sneak in conferring time? (Conferring on the edges! Lol) We are looking at places within and between guided reading time to do more conferring, but also know that on some days what a student might need is that reading conference more than a guided reading lesson. We need to be student-centered not framework-centered each and every day!

    Enjoyed your post! I

  4. Michele,
    I'm so glad to have you as a resource as I move into my new position supporting primary readers. You and I have many of the same questions from the reading as we reflect upon supporting developing readers. Like you, I was caught by the idea of considering how readers see themselves. I'm thinking that since I have last year's data to begin and classroom teachers will want the first weeks to develop routines, that I will go into classrooms and sit beside those readers already on our radar. During this time, I hope to do informal interviews to find out how they see themselves as readers, the books they have at home, and the books they've already discovered.

    Another piece of your reflection that caught my attention was parents. I really want to work hard to help share information with parents and so they can help create wild readers. I'm not really sure we can do it without them.

    Finally, that learning to choose books for themselves point. My hope is to be working in classrooms enough to sit beside students and help with this in the communities students are a part of.

    Lots to think about,

  5. Like you, I am rereading this great book. I also really dwelled on the idea of edge time and think that this can be an important lesson for kids. On the last day of school I had my students make a reading poster where they divided their papers into sections: summer reading: who, what, where, why, and when. In each section they brainstormed what it could involve for them (for instance who might they read with, what might they read, where would they read this summer, why would they read, and what times of day would they read). This helped my students to see all the opportunities for reading they might have, especially when they shared with each other. Unfortunately many of the kids will not have reading encouraged at home, so they need to find their own edge time.

  6. Hi Michele,

    Thanks for giving us so much to think about. We also want to learn more strategies for engaging our primary grade students. Some strategies we have seen teachers use successfully to is to have a student who is struggling in grades 1 or 2, read to a student in kindergarten on a regular basis. We find that when our students who are "at-risk" feel that their reading is helping someone else, it seems to change the dynamics. We also find that when we ask our primary grade students to make audio recordings of books for younger students,readers seem to become excited.

    We are looking forward to learning more ideas from everyone else.

    Tammy and Clare

  7. Love your books and your cyberPD. I hope to participate next week.

  8. First of all, nonfiction text is also my largest #bookgap. Bravo to you for pushing yourself to read more -- your students will greatly benefit!

    I'm also so glad you were up for rereading "Reading in the Wild" again and join in the conversations! I agree, you learn so much more after reread a book and talking about it with others! I agree with you, first our students must see them as readers to be readers. That's very powerful! And then taking it to the next level and building the independent reading habits, students must be involved and reflective! Clearly, they own the learning and the wild reading!

    I am also a reading specialist in my school and support teachers in the classroom. The question you posed to discuss with teachers is thought provoking! So many great ideas will be shared among teachers and new ideas will be developed and implemented!

    I need to know more about your schedule! We also currently pull students out during the literacy block, usually during the Daily 5/guided reading time. Students meet before or after with the classroom teacher ... however, they are missing out on independent reading time. When is a better time? Or is pushing into classrooms a thought? (I need to know more!!) :)

    I also struggle like you about hooking our developing readers and encouraging them to just pick up a book and read. (I did not read the other comments yet, but perhaps an idea or two was shared!) I love the idea of showering our developing readers with positive reading experiences and lots of touchstone authors and book titles! More, more, more! And more time in school to read too!

    I second the strategy for getting through the tough parts of a book. We need to be more explicit! Simple to do! And same with the preview stack ... instead of just handing one book over. Love it!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Michele! I think we will definitely continue to connect! (Like that new schedule ...)

  9. Hi there Michele, I read your reflections on Reading in the Wild with great interest. I know that my own copy is littered with post-its and notes on the margins - I just fell in love with it, similar to how I fell in love with Book Love and The Book Whisperer. If these are the kinds of PD texts teachers must read, then I really love being a teacher! :)

  10. Nancy Atwell writes about bringing in a book bag filled with her favorite books to share her reading territories (In The Middle) and this was a "thing" I have borrowed for many years. I think our kids watch us and see how much we read, too - so using our own reading habits as teaching points is wonderful modeling, and it's authentic, too. I loved the careful way Donalyn goes about this.

  11. Michele,
    I'm also rereading Reading in the Wild! This is giving me a chance to dig a little deeper and pick up on what I might've missed when I devoured it during the first reading. :)

    You ask some really important questions in your post. One of the questions that kept me thinking was about how to engage struggling readers. My experiences with first grade and fourth grade readers taught me the power of graphic novels. All too often, I think we dismiss this genre (style?) as "fluff" reading. But I can tell you that graphic novels have been a staple in hooking some of my most hard-to-reach kids!

    I'll look forward to hearing more from you as we continue rereading!