Donalyn Miller's reading instructional approach detailed in The Book Whisperer turned my world upside down in August and totally reframed how I approach reading instruction.
As a student teacher, my main goal is to create a classroom environment where children enjoy reading and embrace their identity as a reader.
As an adult, if you were told that every time you read a book you have to answer multiple choice questions, write several paragraphs about it, or do a book report, would that encourage or discourage you from reading? That's what I thought.
So I avoided using worksheets, comprehension questions, book reports, cumbersome projects, and similar inauthentic assignments that burden the act of reading. And just let them read.
As it turns out, they love it!
Today I gave the children a survey on what they like about the way reading is taught in our classroom. The results were amazing. Here are some examples of questions and responses on the survey.
1. What do you like about the way Ms. Cantrell and Ms. Straume teach reading?
Some quotes from our students:
"I like that we have a lot of time to read."
"They recommend you good books."
"[I like that] they let us choose our own books to read."
"They let us read so much which I love and they choose really good books for us and they give us good recommendations"
"I like how they read [out loud]."
"[I like] how they let us read every day in school."
"How you let us read a lot"
"That you give us a long time of READING!"
"I love the time to read!"
"I love everything about how Mrs. Straume and Ms. Cantrell teach reading in class."
2. Do you like reading?
100% of student responded "Yes!" that they enjoy reading
3. How much time do you spend reading on a typical school night?
The vast majority of the students reported that they are reading more than 20 minutes on any given school night.
Children appreciate being given time to read in school. They like it when teachers just. let. them. read. I can see this reflected in the amazing quality of our students' behavior during reading time. They are always quietly focused on what they are reading. We are collecting data on students' comprehension and fluency and seeing increases across the board there as well.
Donalyn Miller, if you're reading this, thank you! The Book Whisperer works!