Book Whisperer and Reading Workshop in 8th
05-08-2012, 10:48 AM
I am a HUGE fan of Miller's concepts, but I agree with previous posters. The Book Whisperer is more of an inspirational book than a practical "how-to" guide, but don't give up!
I did further research into the 4 books she mentions that served as her workshop guides. I have looked at Nancie Atwell for the majority of my guidance. I even went to Maine and did a week internship at her school. It was fascinating to see how it all works.
I have structured my class so that students read 10-15 minutes at the beginning of each 50 minute class. I do this instead of a bell ringer. Fridays I dedicate as "reading workshop" days. That is the only day I have them read 30 minutes. I don't do whole class novels so instead we talk about literary elements in the context of their own books. They write a "literary letter-essay" about their personal reading book about once a month(ish). We also have round table discussions about once every 4-6 weeks. So far we have done "Types of Narrative Leads", "Theme", "What is Literature", and "Plot Development". I also use short stories if I want a shared literary experience. I also assign 30 minutes of reading a night. Atwell says this translates to about 20 pages a night. I am very bad about daily logging of reading, but most of them do it.
This is my first year doing it, but so far I really like what I'm seeing. I have seen such a love of reading develop in our school. Students that have been in intensive reading for the two years I have known them have probably read 15-20 books this year. Now, they aren't reading Jane Austen quite yet, but it's still amazing to see them want to read every book an author has written.
I will say that it is a tough switch to make mentally. I think assessment is the toughest part. It requires a little more anecdotal evidence. The comprehension check has to happen in individual conversations. That is my weakest thing write now.
I am thinking about changes for next year. I would like to have a literary topic for each week (e.g. protagonist vs. antagonist, dynamic characters, plot development, descriptive writing, point of view etc.) and have them post to a discussion board each week. I am also toying with the idea of using the social media site Goodreads to have them track their reading progress.
I realize this was a ton of random stuff to throw at you, but it can be done in middle school. It's not easy, but worth it!! Feel free to message me if you have questions. I don't have all the answers, but I'm working through it.
** Oh, also! I initially tried to do the genre requirements, but quickly abandoned that in favor of getting kids to find books they loved. Some of my lower readers got too caught up in reading the "right" books which defeated the purpose. I do a genre study though of the different characteristics and then we have a round table about what types of books they are reading and their opinions on different genres.
Last edited by Ms. Katie; 05-08-2012 at 10:50 AM..
Reason: added stuff