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Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Book Whisperer: Reading Freedom {Chp. 4}

In chapter 4 of the Book Whisperer, Donalyn shares with us how she gives her students reading freedom in her classroom.
Donalyn gives her students reading freedom by allowing them to choose their own books for the year.  Her students also help decide what books they will read together as a class, and they spend time talking about their choices and recommending books to friends and classmates.  Giving students the freedom to make their own reading choices allows them to grow as readers. Even if they choose books that are juvenile, or if they choose to stop reading a boring book, those students are discovering what they like about reading.  They are on their way to becoming lifelong readers.
Of course as teachers we also need to have some requirements for our students.  Donalyn requires her 6th graders each year to read 40 books across different genres.  She then keeps up with their reading through individual reader's notebooks and conferences with the students.  This format gives her students freedom of choice while still exposing them to different types of books through the genre requirements and recommendations that she gives.

While I had no problem last year letting my students choose their own independent reading books, I was not as successful in talking about those books with my students.  I gave them time to read, but didn't take time for individual conferences.  This year, I am planning on spending time with each student at least once a week to talk about the books they are reading.
I also had them start a reading notebook, but I had a hard time remembering to have them write in it consistently.  This year, I want to set aside 10-15 minutes every Friday for them to write in their reader's notebook.  This will give them time to write down books they have finished and write a short message to me about the books they are reading.  {Also, having this happen on Friday will give me the entire weekend to respond to their messages.}

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