I am fully committed to implementing some type of reading workshop this year. I'm still working out the kinks as to what that will look like in my 4th grade classroom, so this book came into my life at the perfect time. I can already tell you that I am not going to be able to contain myself to a chapter a week. In all honesty, I'll probably have it finished by Wednesday at the latest and will be re-reading each chapter in the weeks to come. And I'm very excited about that!
First of all, reading the Introduction and Chapter 1 is like reading the story of my life. I am a reader at heart and I always have been, so it's difficult for me to put myself in the place of my students who don't like to read. My mother loves to tell the story of my desperation for learning to read as a child. She says that in the weeks leading up to starting kindergarten I would ask her repeatedly, "Will they teach me to read?" And back in the late 80's (which was when I started school) kindergartners really didn't do a whole lot of reading instruction...and that was a frustration to me. When I finally did learn how to read, however, I took off! I tested at an 8th grade reading level as a 1st or 2nd grader. I've ALWAYS been passionate about books and reading, and as a teacher it is SO important to me that my students learn to love to read.
There were so many great quotes in this book! Here are a couple of my favorites:
"Making the workshop work became more important than the readiness or interest of my students or me. You see, while I searched for the key to being a master reading teacher, I forgot what workshop teaching was all about--my role as a master reader..." (p. 18)
I was struck by this comment! So many times I make reading instruction about kids being able to pass a test or a quiz. I mean, after all, isn't an "A" on a test the true indicator of whether or not a student has learned the material? I loved this reminder to pass on what I already possess within myself...the love of reading!
"Reading changes your life. Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time. Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education. Through characters--the saints and sinners, real or imagined--reading shows you how to be a better human being." (p. 18)
I think this one speaks for itself!
I also identified with the section where Miller discusses her "good intentions"--what she felt were solid, well-planned lessons that completely fell flat with her students. How often have we all been there? On page 13, she makes reference to the fact that teachers teach how they were taught--and it's so true! I spent 12+ years in school with teachers who stood in front of me, lectured, then made some kind of written assignment. So it's very difficult to release some of that control and let students be more involved/responsible for their own learning. I loved that idea of student readers as apprentices--we provide them with the tools for the job, yet release them to practice A LOT on their own! We provide them with guidance and instruction while they do the work themselves. And how incredible to have 100% engagement instead of limiting it to the student who is currently reading aloud for the class!
Ultimately, I want my students to recognize their teacher as a reader--that I would want them to love reading even if I wasn't their reading teacher. Reading is an experience--it is moving, powerful, and life-changing.
I'm really excited to continue reading this book as well as several of the others that she recommends for the workshop classroom. I'll close with the image of the Wordle that I created--I'm linking up at Thinking of Teaching. Feel free to join in with us!