Building a Reading Life


My hope each year is to connect each and every student to the joy of reading. The unit, Building a Reading Life, allows me to pinpoint student’s individual needs and to personalize student understanding. I read aloud quality literature each and every day. I get to know the students. I model effective conversations skills. I investigate reading logs. I develop fluent reading skills. I model how to choose a “just right” book. I allow for time in each day for students to read without interruption. I teach the students to read like a writer.

What Big Ideas have I gained?

Routine, modeling, investigation, differentiation and punctuality are essential to a quality workshop approach to literacy. The day-to-day schedule was altered this year. Word Study was newly incorporated into the daily curriculum and I found scheduling reading to be my greatest challenge. I feared that the students would not get the proper amount of uninterrupted reading time needed to progress. I sought the help of fellow teachers to get the latest ideas on assessing student comprehension and fluency rates. I learned to develop attractive Keynote presentations, which respect how the brain acquires information. I learned to trust the curriculum and myself. I essentially tightened my craft so that time would not be wasted. I am quite proud of my growth in this regard.

What new questions were raised?

I wondered how to explain, precisely, the qualities of a good reader. I wondered how to express my personal reading experiences. I wondered how I could celebrate the students’ reading lives so far, with an eye to creating readers for life. I wondered how I could teach the students to document evidence of empathy and thought while reading. I wondered if I could get the students to read “like a detective” so that they do not miss out on the important little details that make reading so enjoyable. I wondered if I could get my students to buy in to developing a more balanced approach to their reading selections. I wondered if I could get children to love poetry. I wondered if I could get students to notice patterns in their thinking and reflect on the reading process.

What feelings have I experienced?

Throughout the unit, I felt encouraged. My confidence grew with each Keynote I developed. The presentations were helpful in channeling the students’ and my own thinking. Each Keynote gave me the chance to expend my cognitive energy on the task at hand. This practice created a profound shift in my teaching of reading. I no longer thought about all that I needed to do in the day and modeled living in the moment. I responded much better to my students’ questions. I remember feeling a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment when this unit was completed.

What actions do I plan to take?

I plan to expand my personal read aloud library. I expect to connect kids with “just-right” authors. I plan to have an end of the unit Reading Celebration that is akin to our many Writing Celebrations. I hope to use social media to discover better practices in teaching reading. I will use to record student read aloud sessions and one-to-one reading conversations. I will blog about my experiences and share with my rapidly expanding professional learning network.

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