Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Book Whisperer-Chapter 3

Somehow I missed the book discussion on chapter 3, so I'm going to  post today about chapter 3 and tomorrow about chapter 4!  

Chapter 3-There's a Time and a Place
Donalyn Miller writes about reading being the cornerstone to her class.  "Reading time is for reading," she writes on page 50.  When I started practicing The Daily 5 in my classroom two years ago, I was so impressed with how much time was spent reading.  Fortunately, my first year of teaching was the only year that the majority of my reading class was not spent reading.  This is when I thought we had to teach the basal series, and didn't have much guidance from administration.  The following year is when we were given a literacy coach and we quickly realized reading class should be for reading.  Miller writes, "What are the effects of intensive reading?  Better writing, richer vocabularies, and increased background knowledge in science and social studies."  I have personally witnessed this in my classroom as well.  On page 52, Miller writes, "Because reading has more impact on students' achievement than any other activity in school, setting aside time for reading must be the first activity we teachers write in our lesson plans, not the last."  This is such a powerful statement.  Sometimes, we are overly focused on writing the lesson plans and scheduling fun learning activities that time for reading has been left out.  

Miller points out times that we as teachers can carve out time for reading.  She suggests tossing out the bell ringers and warm-ups, and just allow the students to read during the first part of the day.  I'm personally not ready to give up on my Language Dailies as a warm up yet.  I do feel they serve a good purpose-students review parts of speech, punctuation, etc. and it serves as a weekly mini-lesson on these topics.  I've also found in previous years that my students need some sort of structured activity while I'm doing check-in.  I'm afraid asking them to read is just not enough.  My students do read after they've completed their dailies, though, which is another time for reading that Miller suggests.  She writes of the fancy early finisher folders that teachers have for students to do when they are finished, and suggests they are time wasters.  I agree with her on this one.  My students know that if they are finished with work early, they are to read.  I think my absolute favorite part of chapter three was when Miller suggested students bring their books with them on picture day.  Picture day in and of itself stresses me out.  We never know when we're going to be called down, and when we are it's a mad rush to get students lined up according to height.  Then, once we get down there, of course they're not waiting on us, there's another class (or two!) in front of us.  So, there I am left to manage the behaviors of not only my class but usually half of the other two classes.  Miller suggests students take their books with them to read during the picture day wait-time.  She said this idea was born out of her always carrying a book with her no matter where she goes.  I take books with me everywhere I go, too, and I must say, my iPad has completely changed my life when it comes to that  No more do I have to worry about lugging around a 700 page book!  

The end of chapter three is dedicated to having a place for students to read.  I am so much like Donalyn Miller in her thinking, that it's eery!  She writes about how many leaders in reading education suggest we need to create a "reading sanctuary" in our classrooms, and how she would get frustrated when she could not come up with a reading oasis for her students.  I don't have the space or money to create this sanctuary in my room, and I really don't think it's necessary.  My students love to read in unusual places-under their desks, in a tight corner, laying on the floor, etc.  There are no fancy seats or corners in my room.  I bought carpet squares at a local remnant sale last year, and you would've thought we had hit the lottery!  

I am still continuing to love this book so much!  It really gets me energized to start the school year!  I made the decision that I'm not going to spend a bunch of money on school supplies this year, but use the money on books instead!  A post about my trip to Half-Priced Books is forthcoming!  


  1. Thanks for sharing! So many good thoughts. Isn't it a great book!


  2. Wow, I just love this post. I agree completely with everything you said. I'd love to have a place for students to read, but it's a stretch just to fit my students in the room :)