building a dream

I have a vision.

A bookish vision.

It started because this school year I have been doing loads of reading about best practice teaching strategies and practices of master teachers. Specifically, I was inspired after reading Collaboration & Comprehension: Inquiry Circles in Action and after attending a training about reading workshops by Penny Kittle based on her book Book Love

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I had already jumped on the opportunity to get some new books via the English department for my students to do student book clubs with (I wrote about the six books our department got here).  I had ideas…but  no real plan.

After a day listening to Penny Kittle talk about reading workshops, my brain was on fire scaffolding what I had learned from reading the Daniels/Harvey book.

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It’s going well. Even with it being the end of their senior year of high school, my students are reading. With the exception of only a few students, even my self-proclaimed non-readers have told me they love their books.

That is amazing.

But I want MORE for next year.

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I don’t want to go back to one “large work” per quarter next year. I don’t want to teach a novel (or play or poem or whatever) separate from writing, grammar, and vocabulary. I want it all to go together.

And I want my students to be reading a lot.

Students who don’t read suffer word poverty.   -Penny Kittle

This year was a test…if I give the kids choice and ownership, will they actually read?  Will they do the work?  The answer so far is a giant YES.

I am not going to abandon my belief in teaching students the classics. In fact, I am hoping that by switching to my plan, students will read more classics…because they want to.

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Next year I want to run student book clubs once a quarter.

I also want to run reading workshops all year long. What does that mean, exactly?

Students would practice goal-setting and tracking. At the start of each quarter, students would set a goal for how many books they will read. They will keep track of pages/books read.

Students will read every day.

Students will write about their reading.

Students will talk about what they are reading with me and with other students.

Students will unpack the writing styles and rhetoric of what they are reading to study the writer’s craft (mastering writing, grammar, usage, vocabulary, and style).

Sustained reading for 12 minutes a day can help students score in the top half of the SAT. -Penny Kittle

As students read, they will build stamina and endurance for reading longer, more challenging texts.  Students who are college-bound will be encouraged to choose classics a few times a year.

I have a little problem with my big dream though…

This is my current classroom library.

This is my current classroom library.

That tiny bookshelf hold all 104 books in my classroom library.

::cue the sound of a record scratching::

Yes, I have access to novels that have been taught in the past (see all those copies of Frankenstein? Yeah, there are not that many kids who would choose that book.), but not enough to rotate through the 120+ students I have.

Yes, we have a media center. But sending kids to the media center for books takes them out of the classroom. I want them to be able to grab a book whenever they are in my class. I want zero excuses for not having a book to read.

Read over 600 pages a week to be successful in a top university. -Penny Kittle

I want a LIBRARY in my room.

I want kids to run their hands over the book spines the way I do at home when I am trying to choose a new book, the way I do when I am remembering all the stories I have already read.

I want kids to hold books regularly. Sending kids to the media center during class time wastes time. Sending them on their own time means it won’t happen. I want them to be able to spot a book from across the room–the way you spot an interesting person–and want to walk over and get to know it better.

I never want any student of mine to suffer word poverty. They suffer enough poverties as it is.

So I need help.

What I have so far in my library I have purchased myself, and it’s not much. I can find the funds to add a few books each year, but I have nowhere near what I need to punch it up into something usable for the fall.

I can’t do it alone.

If I have learned anything at all, it’s that I cannot do this teaching thing alone.

using student book clubs and reading workshops

I’ve created a class library wish list on Amazon.

I am not an affiliate, so no purchases give me anything other than books for my students. Along with donations, I am also busy working on applying for a grant to help purchase books for my classroom library too.

I want to thank all of you for your support, be it books or donations or just virtual high-fives. Your encouragement is a BIG part of why I get on fire to be the best teacher I can be each day.

Read on, friends.

And read to your kids.

** edit: If you don’t want to purchase new books but would still like to help, I would also happily accept gently used books you may have laying around!  Email me for where to ship