Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 Focus: Inquiring Our way through Independent Reading

Every year, one area of teaching comes out in the forefront as the area that I want to work on that year. It is usually that time of day that I feel most unsettled, like I am teaching but it is not meshing the way I want it too or I don't feel like I am maximizing my time with the kids to meet their needs most effectively.
Of course the area of reading has come up a lot through my seven years teaching. It started when I was teaching a group of advanced kids in my second year and I didn't feel like the curriculum was meeting their needs. They needed more time to build comprehension and I didn't feel like I had all the tools to meet that challenge. Then I read Debbie Miller's Reading With Meaning. (Click on all of the book pictures if you want to get more info about them!)

That book helped me see the need for independent reading and since then it has been an important part of my day. A coworker and I followed her model pretty closely, but I did feel like there were other parts of the reading process that I didn't cover as well or that my kids didn't get enough practice time.  I wanted my kids to have those thoughtful conversations as she mentioned, but I just couldn't get them that far. But, I was still a fairly new teacher and there were still a lot of missing pieces to the puzzle.

I think it was also in my second year that I took a class through my district that really opened my eyes to teaching reading too. My teacher introduced us to the bag of books concept, which is also a staple in my room now. My kids always got some free choice but I made them choose some books that were on their reading level as well. I believe it was through this teacher that I was introduced to Debbie Diller. We had to read Making the Most of Small Groups for the class.

WOW! What a book. My understanding of effectively using that small group time grew leaps and bounds while reading that book. {all those things they don't really teach you in college!}

Over the summer I got her book on workstations:

I LOVED it! It put together so many missing pieces for me and it was a system that was authentic and worked with my teaching style. I used this model for quite a few years and it allowed me to pull groups and watch all the rest of my kids work with their partners independently.

Then. I had one of those years. That kind of year where basic is better and, although I love giving kids choice, sometimes they just can't handle it, and I knew it was time to change up the system a bit. I was a little late in reading Daily 5 and the CAFE book, but they are such excellent books I definitely recommend them!

I have to admit though, my reading workshop never completely followed one model exactly. And I don't think any of us should follow a model so exactly that we lose sight of the things that are important to us. Mostly the needs of my kids.

Okay, So back to now. I know that was a terribly long background, but I'm realizing how all of these pieces have shaped me to be the reading teacher I am today. And so as I progress with my focus for the year, those all need to come into play again! :)

Then there is this year. Small groups are just not working. I have some needs in my classroom that prevent me from being able to really go deep with the kids at my table, so I feel like I have been doing "fluffy" things that allow me to keep eyes on what is going on. I don't think it is that workshop is working, because most of the kids do a great job at it, but I just need a method of instruction that is going to allow my presence to be felt all over the classroom.

In the last couple months I have noticed that my most productive differentiation and teaching comes from my short reading and writing conferences with my kids. We don't spend as much time in workshop has we have in the past, but my independent reading time is a solid, 20 minute, productive time each day. So I need to use that time to make the most out of reaching the needs of my kids. Thankfully, that is the focus our Reading Coach has developed for us too, so I am excited to use her to help me develop this time to be as productive as possible!

So if you made it through this incredibly long post, I hope that you will join me on this inquiry of Independent reading! In the coming weeks and months til the end of school I hope to share what is working, what needs to change/be added, and how this time has benefited my students!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments or Questions?