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Almost gave it a fivethis woman is my kindred spirit I love how she talks about how pointless book reports are Every year, sometime in mid to late September, my students start wondering if we re going to do book reports Then, we have our parent teacher conferences in early October and the parents ask me about book reports I m a little less dramatic with the parents who are SO relieved to hear the news , but this is what I do for the students I become silent I stare at the whole class a Almost gave it a fivethis woman is my kindred spirit I love how she talks about how pointless book reports are Every year, sometime in mid to late September, my students start wondering if we re going to do book reports Then, we have our parent teacher conferences in early October and the parents ask me about book reports I m a little less dramatic with the parents who are SO relieved to hear the news , but this is what I do for the students I become silent I stare at the whole class as they await my reply I put one finger up to my lips for a long moment And then I WHISPER, Sshhhdon t tell anyonebut, I don t BELIEVE in book reports And the class immediately erupts into cheers Oh I teach Yes, I do I teach the core curriculum But I don t do book reports I whole heartedly endeavor to help my students ENJOY reading Go ahead and fire me.I ve just finished it for the second time and I OWN it now Akin to Nancie Atwell s In the Middle about reading workshop, Miller s book talks about creating a community of readers and encouraging students to read by giving them time in school to read She points out that her students score well on their standardized tests, and she attributes this to her expectation that each student will read 40 books during their school year I think she s right.My only irritation with this book is that, as a school librarian, I find classroom libraries to be a connundr Akin to Nancie Atwell s In the Middle about reading workshop, Miller s book talks about creating a community of readers and encouraging students to read by giving them time in school to read She points out that her students score well on their standardized tests, and she attributes this to her expectation that each student will read 40 books during their school year I think she s right.My only irritation with this book is that, as a school librarian, I find classroom libraries to be a connundrum They re GREAT Kids need to have books available to them, right in front of them, they need to be able to easily abandon books and start others, talk about books, think about books, etc However, I firmly believe that 1 The school library is not so far away that you can t send kids to it regularly and 2 schools are using the expectation of classroom libraries to diminish school library budgets and personnel Miller says her classroom library is 2000 volumes My understocked school library is 7600 She says she buys books on the cheap School librarians have CONNECTIONS I get almost all my new paperbacks for at least 50% off cover price, and hardcovers for 40% off I don t pay shipping and my books are cataloged so that it s even easier for kids to find what they re looking for than in a collection that is only known well by the teacher In addition, school libraries can interlibrary loan materials so that each reader can have the books s he really wants When classroom teachers spend hundreds of dollars a year on books, I cringe If I had that money, I could spend iteffectively to buymaterials that would be available to every kid in the school Teachers need to lobby for sufficient school library budgets so that good books are available in quantity for students They need to lobby for sufficient qualified school library staff so that they can send kids to the library at any time to get new books, different books, etc It frustrates me that even a teacher like Miller, who is a heavy library user, doesn t seem to know that there is a relationship between her spending her own money on books for her heavy reading students and the school s measly budget for school library books She talks about using the school s library, but insists that her classroom library is the main source for her students reading material If that s the case, I think something s wrong with her school library and librarian This is a book I wish I could rate a couple of different ways Because in some ways it is a 5 star book, and others it deserves a 2 Let me explain.First why is it so great I would highly suggest this for any reading English teacher in America There is nothing really complex about this book, but it certainly proposes a culture shift in reading education The basic premise is that the way we are teaching reading is actually what is destroying the love of reading in America Americans are readin This is a book I wish I could rate a couple of different ways Because in some ways it is a 5 star book, and others it deserves a 2 Let me explain.First why is it so great I would highly suggest this for any reading English teacher in America There is nothing really complex about this book, but it certainly proposes a culture shift in reading education The basic premise is that the way we are teaching reading is actually what is destroying the love of reading in America Americans are reading less and less all the time and it is this teacher author s contention that we need to just let kids read instead of creating all the complex reading programs that we have in education Miller requires her 6th graders to read 40 books during the school year Not really surprising, many students meet this goal and exceed it and a byproduct of the students reading so much is their reading scores on the Texas state assessment actually improves None of her students have failed the state assessment in four years and an average of 85% of her students score in the 90th percentile There is no disputing she is doing something right.Why not so great Ms Miller has a bit of a God complex and it s not well placed at times She is highly critical of everything we do in reading education At times she writes as if she has all the answers to reading education and we should just follow her lead Which leads us to a second criticism At times you really don t understand how her classroom functions We know she incorporates a lot of reading and time for her students to read, but we never get a solid picture of what her reading instruction looks like Finally, her last chapter in this book is just total crap She spends precious pages criticizing her fellow teachers in her district and really doing nothing to promote a collegial atmosphere It seems that many teachers ruin all her hard work and she tells us how she gets severely distraught over this issue as well This chapter just doesn t fit She could have spenttime helping us to better understand her classroom Because believe me, she gets your attention.The bottom line is this book really makes you think about the value of reading and really brings out the inner reader within you as a teacher Donalyn Miller gets it She understands perfectly why many of our kids don t like reading any , and she has the answer You d think Congress would be knocking down her door by now Let s hope it happens soon.In the mean time, anyone who considers himself or herself a teacher needs to read THE BOOK WHISPERER It s a book that gets right to the heart of what makes us readers and how to instill that love of words and stories in our kids Miller goes right after so called tried and true method Donalyn Miller gets it She understands perfectly why many of our kids don t like reading any , and she has the answer You d think Congress would be knocking down her door by now Let s hope it happens soon.In the mean time, anyone who considers himself or herself a teacher needs to read THE BOOK WHISPERER It s a book that gets right to the heart of what makes us readers and how to instill that love of words and stories in our kids Miller goes right after so called tried and true methods like comprehension tests, book reports, whole class required novels, and test preparation workbooks not just with empty criticism but with solid research that supports reading time and student choice More importantly, she provides a healthy list ofkid friendly, reading friendly alternative strategies that teachers can use in their classrooms right away.Truly, this book is a model for getting kids back to books they love, and it provides a great model for classroom teachers to follow For those who aren t sure where to start, there are plenty of anecdotes, sample student interactions, and useful classroom forms to get new teachers started.I m both a children s author and a National Board Certified middle school English teacher, and I found myself nodding my way through these pages to the very end Miller s ideas and they re ideas that smart teachers all over our country are using in various ways have the power to make a real difference in education ( READ DOWNLOAD ) ☧ The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child ☩ Known for her popular blog, The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller is a dedicated teacher who says she has yet to meet a child she couldn t turn into a reader Her approach, however, is not conventional Miller dispenses with the traditional reading instruction of book reports and comprehension worksheets in favor of embracing students choices in books and independent reading Her zeal for reading is infections and inspiring and the results are remarkable No matter how far behind Miller s students may be when they enter her th grade classroom, her students read an average ofbooks a year, achieve high scores on standardized tests, and internalize a love for books and reading that lasts long after they ve left her class Travel alongside the author as she leads her students to discover the ample rewards of reading and literature Her secrets include Affirming the reader in every student It has been said that teachers teach how they were taughtP 13I think this statement is the crux of my bafflement and let down over The Book Whisperer I would have been what Donalyn Miller calls an Underground Reader had it not been for the fact that I was homeschooled I read and read growing up, and the line between books for school and for pleasure blurred Every book was a whole class novel study because I constituted the entire class I guess I never doubted that I would allow myIt has been said that teachers teach how they were taughtP 13I think this statement is the crux of my bafflement and let down over The Book Whisperer I would have been what Donalyn Miller calls an Underground Reader had it not been for the fact that I was homeschooled I read and read growing up, and the line between books for school and for pleasure blurred Every book was a whole class novel study because I constituted the entire class I guess I never doubted that I would allow my own classroom of students to do the same read and read and read, in different capacities and with varying outcomes and destinations, but still always reading I will admit that there is good research concerning encouraging students to read within this volume Reading instruction is necessary and valuable, but what develops good readers better than reading itself Nothing Kids need to read, many genres, and as often as possible Period Fact What irked me about this memoir instruction manual, and drove me to the point of discouragement, was Miller s attitude that she is the very first teacher to ever stumble upon this idea in the history of education It is basically a 200 page plea for reading done her way, and that gets tired fast, especially when it all seems obvious.Believe me, I am against Accelerated Reading AR and other types of log and forget programs, too, but I have seen firsthand that whole class novel studies, and literature circles, and reading groups can work I have seen a read aloud, novel study, and an independent reading period fill a fifth grade language arts block to great effect You cannot forever let students read their own choices of books, because when they get to high school and hopefully college, there is assigned reading, whether they like the book or not They will have to read what everyone else is reading or fail.Miller is also right in that the culture of testing and standards in American public schools is monopolizing Is she calling for a reading revolution Maybe She s going to have to bespecific about how she schedules her classroom hours if she is I kept waiting for her to explain how she wove lessons on comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, and other reading strategies into this free wheeling reading program, but it never came The only accountability I could discern mentioned towards the end of the book was that the students write reviews and recommendations to post on the classroom blog And what about elementary It is one thing to dedicate so much time to independent reading when you re solely teaching language arts to sixth graders, as Ms Miller does Early readers still require a lot of reading instruction, and their attention spans do not allow for 30 minute blocks of silent reading Trust me You re lucky if you get 10 15 90 minute literacy block or no, there has to be a balance of modeling, instruction, and independent work That s Teaching 101.That s what I would say is missing, for me, from The Book Whisperer balance It is sad that so many teachers have switched to a classroom culture of test prep This is true However, I do not feel it is fair to the students to provide no test prep at all I will use one of my favorite adages in response to test prep Don t teach to the test Teach how to take it Students can have lots of independent reading time while also learning how to successfully conquer the current education waters Why can t there be both At the end of the day, getting kids to read is the prime objective, and Miller achieved that Her students loved to read I am all for encouraging life long readers I am one myself I can t understand people who don t read It is a fundamental part of how I have become the person I am now, traveling down the path toward the teacher I want to become I agree that too many children are not the readers they need to be, some because of disinterest or learning disabilities or language barriers Miller ignored accommodating exceptional students altogether others because they were not given a good foundation of reading instruction when they needed it What about these students who are struggling Miller promotes giving them books at their reading level and eventually, they catch up Independent reading is neither a catch all, nor should it be in lieu of concentrated, individualized reading instruction As she pointed out, one size does not fit all After all, some of her students reached her 40 books a year goal and some of them didn t So much of what Miller was advocating was common sense to me, and I couldn t stand how arrogant she was in touting this method, which is, in a nutshell, to model good reading habits and pay attention to the reading needs of your students After this book, I am all thethankful to my K 12 teacher my mom and my current education literacy professor In their own ways, both have taught me that reading is the gateway tolearning Learn to read so you can read to learn Thanks to them, and my own hands on research, I already believe reading is the most important skill that students will ever learn in their educational career I don t need The Book Whisperer herself or anyone else to convince me of that I m a high school English teacher and plan to incorporate this philosophy into my classroom this year Most of Miller s experience is with middle school students, but the ideas can be adjusted to work in a high school classroom as well My goal is to end the year with half of my students reading books for pleasure and enjoying it as much as I do. More than 20 years ago I began reading Lucy Calkins I think the first book of hers I read was Living Between the Lines From that moment I knew what I wanted my classroom to look like, to sound like, to be like I knew I wanted to have a reading workshop a writing workshop and have great conversations with kids around reading and writing I didn t know, though, how to actually start this Then I read Ralph Fletcher s very user friendly Writing Workshop That got me started, and Lucy s Units o More than 20 years ago I began reading Lucy Calkins I think the first book of hers I read was Living Between the Lines From that moment I knew what I wanted my classroom to look like, to sound like, to be like I knew I wanted to have a reading workshop a writing workshop and have great conversations with kids around reading and writing I didn t know, though, how to actually start this Then I read Ralph Fletcher s very user friendly Writing Workshop That got me started, and Lucy s Units of Study for Teaching Writing have helped me refine my teaching and learning This book, The Book Whisperer, has done for my reading instruction what Fletcher s did for my writing instructtion It consolidated all I thought and believed about reading including Fountas and Pinnell s work, especially the Reader s Notebooks and just pushed me right into implementing the program outlined by Donalyn Miller The book is straight forward and very easy to read Thank you, Donalyn Miller, for changing my teaching life Many years ago, I took a graduate class with the author, Donalyn Miller The first day, our professor let everyone in the class know we had a reading celebrity in our midst Many times, this professor would refer to Donalyn for her opinion At that time, I decided I should probably read her book at some point I purchased the book and stuck it on my to read bookshelf Like Donalyn, I have a mountain for my to read list During the school year, I read two things professional pedagogy and researc Many years ago, I took a graduate class with the author, Donalyn Miller The first day, our professor let everyone in the class know we had a reading celebrity in our midst Many times, this professor would refer to Donalyn for her opinion At that time, I decided I should probably read her book at some point I purchased the book and stuck it on my to read bookshelf Like Donalyn, I have a mountain for my to read list During the school year, I read two things professional pedagogy and research books for PhD work and books for young adults Either way, my choices are guided by what my needs are at that moment So, this book had been relegated to the one day shelf until today It is the summer, after all What I learned by reading this book is that Donalyn s approach to teaching Reading is much like my own I teach two subjects English and Reading In my Reading class, the focus is solidly on reading We read independently 15 90 minutes per period I do conferencing with my students, and spend hours trying to personally match books to students I do this because I like to see what happens when a struggling reader suddenly becomes a stellar reader When that happens, these same kids make immense jumps in their performance in other classes Sometimes, this also means a change in their general behavior All of a sudden, they have confidence They feel affirmed Apparently, Donalyn s experience with the importance of independent reading with 6th graders mirrors what I see at the high school level In English, I focus most of my effort into writing while still maintaining an independent reading requirement I appreciated the voice that Donalyn used, as it clearly spoke to an audience of teachers who care about reading While providing big name scholars research as a support for her viewpoint strengthens her argument, the passion that comes through leads to the truth of the matter evenFor Donalyn, reading is life For me, this is also a reality that I try to express to others but can never quite seem to put it into words I m glad Donalyn has done it.Those people who like Donalyn s work should also check out Nancie Atwell s In The Middle and Penny Kittle s Write Beside Them If you a teacher of reading, The Book Whisperer is the most important book you will ever read.