Ah, round two of the #cyberpd summer read. Chapters 5 and 6 are where Vinton dives into the practical aspects of teaching for deeper meaning and creating opportunities for problem-solving. This is my comfort zone when it comes to reading and thinking about educational practices; I’m a details person, a concrete thinker much of the time who needs to hear about the mechanics of how something works before I can really think about it with a wider lens.
Chapter 5 spoke to me in so many ways. Whether they are reading for pleasure or for class, kids have such a hard time with “figuring out the basics”. Chapters with alternating voices, books with flashbacks and time switches, too many pronouns, elements that I think make a book more interesting often make it confusing to students. They bring it back unread, telling me it was ‘boring’. Boring = “I didn’t get it, and I couldn’t figure it out”. Much of the time, but not always. So many kids read just for plot, they can’t recall the title of the book, characters’ names or details about the setting, but they can give me a play-by-play of the action. They miss the humor, the wordplay, the patterns, the world-building in a good fantasy or sci-fi; so much is lost in the whirlwind of reading quickly to see how it ends.
The core practices that are shared in both chapters have helped me to think about how I can adapt them to my work in the library to help students dig a little deeper in their reading, to appreciate a book for more than just the plot points. Or to just mark it as “read” on their mental lists of things they have accomplished.
-Can I use sophisticated picture books with 5th graders to demonstrate how to think deeply about a text in a 40-minute class period? Will they find ways to transfer that learning to their own reading? Some will, some won’t.
-Can I create some open-ended questions for kids to think about in their independent reading that isn’t text dependent so everyone can answer it within the context of their individual books? I’d like to think so.
-Could they do “Turn and Talks” about their independent reading answering three specific questions with their partner? Maybe.
It feels piecemeal, but maybe something is better than nothing. Or maybe, I can try things out with students, talk to teachers as I go, and find ways to collaborate more often throughout the school year.
I’m curious. As people read these chapters and reflect on their own teaching will you be completely overhauling what you do, or will you be trying bits and pieces to see how it goes? Do you have the flexibility in your workplaces to make big changes? I’ll definitely be reading people’s responses to these more practical chapters with that in mind. What about collaboration with other teachers in your school? Can you reach out to the science teachers to think about how kids read and respond to nonfiction texts? Or working with librarians to find new and different texts that might meet your needs?
As always, so much to think about.
And, here’s a pretty picture of blueberries that are just ripening in my backyard, making focus on work things difficult. What’s your distraction this summer?