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PROFESSIONAL LITERATURE CIRCLE

Cassidy Shostak

In the article, Creating a Classroom Where Readers Flourish Donalyn Miller

discusses specific strategies to implement into every classroom to create enthusiastic,

engaged, and confident readers. Miller finds that the amount of time spent reading is the

best predictor of school success in all content areas; however, the poorest readers

continue to read less contributing to a large academic gap (2012 p.89). So how do we

lessen this academic gap between students? Miller argues that students must read and read

AND READ to become better readers. Therefore, the challenge is motivating and getting

students enthusiastic when it comes to reading and creating long lasting reading habits,

which is something most teachers can sympathize with. Miller presented, four specific

strategies that increase students reading volume; firstly teachers must, carve out time to

read specifically suggesting 30 minutes a day (2012, p.89). Secondly, create an expectation

of the classroom that when students are done activities they must read (Miller, 2012, p.89).

Thirdly, teachers must provide students choice to what they want to read; however, never

give the option to not read (Miller, 2012, p.90). Lastly, introducing books and authors

through read-aloud exposing students to different genres, authors, or series allowing them

to recognize more books when making a book selection (Miller, 2012, p.90). Tompkins,

Bright, and Winsor, also agree that independent reading is important for developing a love

of reading; however, it is important for students access to books (2016, p.149).

The author suggests that educators teach their students to always keep a book with

them to ensure that they are never bored contributing to never having a wasted moment

(shout out to my language leader, Jo!). During our discussion, the connecter compared this
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idea to the program D.E.A.R or Drop Every And Read. The D.E.A.R program is national

celebration of reading to show the importance of reading whenever we get the chance. I

have experienced D.E.A.R in the school with random announcements for students to drop

everything and read this includes the hallways, gym, and during instructional time in their

classroom. As well, Dr.Gerald Probe Elementary School challenged students to share photos

with the hashtag #readanywhere. Staff and students shared photos of them reading in

various areas of their life, one even reading while waiting in line at Disneyland! I thought it

was a fun thing that kids looked forward to throughout the day and through their daily

lives, so how do we transfer this excitement about reading into our everyday classrooms?

As the illustrator of the group, I used the aspect of visual literacy from another

literature circle, Reading Pictures: Developing Visual Literacy for Greater Comprehension,

by Kathleen Ellen ONeil and Kathy Schrock, concept of sketch noting to highlight and

illustrate the key points and take-aways from the article. The combination between these

two aspects (what I think) creates an easy way to show the important points of the article

as well as a strategy to remember what I felt were the most important features from the
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author (also who knew I was so artistically talented). This research also shows that we

process visual and/or images 60,000 times faster than we do words and that 90 percent of

information transmitted to the brain is visual therefore, this idea of sketch noting may help

students process information quickly and effectively (Thermopylae Sciences &

Technology). I cant wait to teach and incorporate sketch noting in my classroom for a fun,

different, and easy way for learning activities and even use the concept for different forms

of assessment!

Our connecter discussed how by first reading books aloud allowed English Language

Learners (ELL) to better recognize words and make better vocabulary connections. Getting

students to read along with a Big Book or on the Smart Board allows all students an

opportunity to attempt to read in a low risk environment. Student can follow the words

along with the teacher tracking the words and be introduced to new words they may have

not attempted to read before. Students are able to progressively read more challenging

texts as well as independently and successfully. This gives many opportunities for mini-

lessons for word sounds, suffix, prefix, rhyming, or any specific reading strategy the teacher

would like to highlight. Tompkins, Bright, and Winsor, gives a suggestion of making a class

big book, each student contributing a page about themselves, which I would LOVE to do

with my future/potential/hopeful kiddos (2016, p.86). I think this is an amazing strategy to

get students reading and writing in a fun way but as well another strategy to develop a

community in your classroom actively getting students to know each other better. During

my PSI, I was in a class where all of the students first language was German and there were

a lot (I mean ALOT) of things to consider teaching an ELL classroom, especially when

developing reading skills. I found the more one-on-one interactions between teachers/EAs
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and students while they are reading creates better supports to develop reading skills. I saw

that silent reading conferences were essential to quickly improving reading skills as well as

using small-levelled reading groups in the classroom. When thinking about increasing time

spent between teachers and students, I am left wondering how it is possible for many

student conferences and guided readings to occur without the help of an EA (or practicum

student)? And if a teacher did not have these resources/extra bodies, how to keep students

engaged in literature and activity, without their guidance, when they are working with a

particular reading group or student?

Our literature group discussed how when novel studies were assigned to a class or

they were forced to read a book they then developed negative thoughts about reading or

about the book in general. I posed a question on my twitter about how to keep students

engaged during their silent reading and there was an overwhelming response of choice.

Laurie Gatzke, a former teacher who now works for Saskatchewan Education Assessment

team replied, Provide books. Books. More books. Never ever ever stop reading aloud.

Don't box kids into reading only books from their level. Give choice. I think this is an

interesting concept to move forward with as a beginning teacher as we are struggling to

manage, plan, and instruct; however, when it comes to reading the answer is simple. We

must give options, provide choice, and read; using this is as a starting tool we are better

able to engage students to develop a love for reading.

When providing students choice in what they are reading so they take ownership of

their book. The inductor, Ashley, posed the question what are other ways to introduce

books and authors to students to help them choose one of interest? A strategy to expose

students to different literature is to set up in your classroom or school is a Give One Take
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One Library where students contribute books that they have read and completed to find a

new book to start reading. I find this a cute idea when building a classroom community that

emphasizes reading and students are able to share with each other favourite books or new

literature. Another strategy that will benefit student choice as well as develop a specific

writing skill and strategies getting students to write books reviews for books the finished

and leaving them in an envelope or slip taped in the cover of the book. This develops both

reading and writing skills in a classroom while students are able to read the reviews from

their peers to help make a decision if they would like a book. By teaching students what a

book review is and what it can do for us, teachers can scaffold and set expectations for a

books review, developing different writing skills while making it easier for students to

better choose books in their interest.

A last point from our discussion is when Jo made a connection between lifelong

readers to lifelong learners, which is a notion that education students are very aware of. We

want to create lifelong learners in our classroom; however, does this not include lifelong

readers? If students are able to develop a love for reading will this not contribute to an

overall love of learning? I believe, that creating and modelling the lifestyle of a life-long

learner should encompass all aspects of learning which includes reading. We need to show

students that reading is used in all areas of our lives that we love! (Video games, science,

history, art, movies, music, cooking, current events, sports, etc.)

My career goal is to teach in an early childhood education classroom; however, I still

feel very unprepared for teaching students how to read (and that scares me). I find that

there are so many aspects to consider when developing a literacy program that it is over-

whelming to think about. How do I ensure that students leave our classroom with better
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reading skills as a beginning teacher? (Jana that one is for you ) After reading the article

and making connections with other activities and readings I am left wondering, how do

teachers suspect learning disabilities is regard to reading at such a young age when

considering how essential early intervention is?

REFERENCES

Miller, D. (2012). Creating a Classroom Where Reader Flourish. The Reading Teacher. 66(2).

ONeil, K.E. (2011). Developing Visual Literacy for Greater Comprehension. The Reading

Teacher, 65 (3). Retrieved from

http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.uleth.ca/stable/pdf/41331601.pdf?refreqid=excelsio

r%3Ad00ede14cd5df32a9f8da66b30fdb3f8.

Thermopylae Sciences + Technology. (2014). Humans Process Visual Data Better. Retrieved

from http://www.t-sciences.com/news/humans-process-visual-data-better

Tompkins, G.E., Bright, R.M, & Winsor, P.T.J. (2016). Language and Literacy: Content and

Teaching Strategies. New Jersey, USA: Pearson.