Sunday, August 4, 2013

Summer Reading

Summer is winding down: one more week before I start setting up my (brand new!) classroom. This summer really flew. I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped (build a dining room table? read hundreds of picture books? not so much!) but I did do a lot of professional reading that has been really helpful. I really wish I'd read Small Group Reading Instruction, by Beverly Tyner, last year: I definitely could've used some of that insight into beginning and struggling readers with my third graders. She identifies five distinct stages of reading development and outlines in detail what readers at each stage need. I also really appreciate her clear-cut advice for guided reading instruction: she offers a very specific lesson format and scope and sequence for each stage of early reading. I'm sure I'll adapt it and make changes as needed, but I find it helpful to start from a framework rather than making it up from scratch (like I more or less have been to this point).

Right now I'm reading Growing Readers, by Kathy Collins. It's gotten me really excited about this year! Kathy Collins is part of the Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project, and I have used Lucy Calkins' units of study for reading both years I've taught and loved it. Kathy Collins definitely uses Calkins' approach to teaching reading, but Growing Readers is geared toward primary grades, which is so helpful to me in terms of building my knowledge of this grade band. It also has a lot more detail for how to make reading workshop work and lots of anecdotes about trouble-shooting typical difficulties. Something that surprised me is that guided reading is not the focus of reading workshop for her: conferring is. I have read about the importance of conferring, and I definitely confer with my students (I actually did it more than guided reading in my first year due to management issues and a dearth of guided reading resources) but it's never been the priority and the focus of my reading instruction. But I think if you understand what readers need and where they're at, it makes a lot of sense to prioritize conferring. Even when you have a guided reading group of students at a similar level, they are going to progress at different speeds and need different supports. I am excited to implement a reading workshop like she describes this year. Co-teaching will be a great opportunity to do a lot of conferring to be able to really differentiate on an individual level.