It’s the middle of March and I feel like I have momentum with my reading goal. I have loads of book in the On Deck stack. I’m keeping a reading log. I’m on the brink of a week off for Spring Break where J and E will be at school every day. This means hours of potential uninterrupted reading. Ahhhh…
What I am noticing though, is that just having read these 18 books is already paying dividends. My ability to conference with students in reading workshop is improving. Why? Not because I am recommending these exact 18 titles to them (it’s not about the book, remember…) but because I am constantly noticing the kind of thinking that I am doing when I am reading and I can teach these points to students when I confer. It’s like this: I get to read, which I love. The books aren’t hard, which is good for my brain right now. And on top of it, I am in a constant state of prepping for coaching students in reading workshop at the same time.
I just wrapped up a couple of weeks of work in a Grade 5 class doing a mystery genre study. The lessons were on things like reading suspiciously, thinking about how the detective changes in the story, noticing clues, thinking about how the detective solves the case, secondary characters and their place in the story, making lists of characters and determining if they are suspects and so on. At first, I thought “That’s good. The students will be able to access this genre more readily after these lessons.” Of course, that’s true. But I also want our teaching to be about something bigger than one book or even one genre. So I was kind of questioning myself in my teaching- were our goals broad enough?
Through my own personal reading, I think the answer to that question is yes. What I realized is that the strategies we were teaching them are applicable to so many kinds of reading-not just mystery.
Last night I started reading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordian. About 9 kids have recommended this series to me. I feel it might be the Harry Potter of the decade, so best to get it under my belt. Anyway, as I started reading, I realized I was reading rather suspiciously and making lists of characters in my head. I was trying to figure out what the ‘mystery’ was at the beginning of the book. The strategies from the mystery unit were already in play, and that was just in the first 20 pages of the book.
Now in Reading Workshop, we need to help those Grade 5 students see this as well: the mystery strategies are broader. We can coach them into use this kind of thinking in the next kind of fiction reading that they are doing.
FYI, my on deck stack includes: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Bud Not Buddy, Loser, A Single Shard, and Ivy and Bean among others.