Tag Archive for reading

Developing Wild Readers

I’ve previously shared my learning from reading Donalyn Miller’s book Reading in the Wild, but am grateful to have had the opportunity to hear her keynote on her research and practices within this book at the Wisconsin State Reading Association Convention (#WSRA15).  I am always inspired by hearing and reading Donalyn’s work and want to go back into my own classroom to inspire students to read, but then I remember I don’t have a classroom.  So, as a leader, I just continue to share my learning with our teachers and model myself as a wild reader for our entire school.

Lunch conversation selfie with my PLN: Donalyn Miller, Tom Whitford, and Pernille Ripp

Lunch conversation selfie with my PLN: Donalyn Miller, Tom Whitford, and Pernille Ripp


Here is the Monday Musings post I’ll be sharing with my teachers:


Over the years I’ve shared my learning with you from Donalyn Miller’s books: The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild (previous posts are HEREHERE, and HERE). I’ve seen many of the practices we’ve learned about from her implemented in your classrooms: reading choice, book talks, stealing reading minutes, sharing your lives as readers, reading goals posted (students and staff), etc.

Even though I have read both of Donayln’s books, I was re-inspired by hearing her speak last week and to hear her story of how she came to research reading habits and write the book, Reading in the Wild. As the well-known Book Whisperer, she always got her students to read voraciously and couldn’t understand what happened in the next grade level up when her students stopped reading, because their classrooms didn’t include the same practices. Instead of blaming other teachers, Donalyn realized that she needed to help her students to truly develop the habits of lifelong readers, not having to depend on her to get connected to their next book to read. How do you do this?

  • Instead of requiring reading logs to track minutes (which most students and parents “fudge” anyhow) having students track their book titles read (that’s what adults do!).
  • Instead of having required amounts of time to read, having students learn and find times to “steal reading” minutes like most adults do, by always having a book with them.
  • Instead of making a specific book recommendation to a student when they finish a book, ask first: “What’s on your to-read list?” (After setting up the structure/habit for students to have a to-read list.)
  • Instead of recommending a specific book to students, she started making a preview stack of books that included books she knows the student will like but included different types of genres to expose them to.
  • Never give up on having a read-aloud, kids are never too old (that’s why there’s such a large market for audio books!) Use the read-aloud to expose students to different authors/genres/series that they may never try on their own.
  •  Help students to build their reading community. If you are their only source of book recommendations, then they will be lost without you next year.
  • And just for fun: skip the “selfie” and take a “shelfie”: a picture of yourself with a stack of books you want to read (or your favorite books)!

If you want to read more “nuggets” from her keynote presentation, there were many attendees tweeting from it and you can find them all HERE.

Take a moment to reflect on how you share yourself as a reader with your students and how are you promoting the habits of lifelong learners in your classroom?

My Reading Resolutions for 2015

Books I read in 2014:


This is my 3rd year in a row of writing Reading Resolutions with the new year. You can find previous Reading Resolutions I’ve written in this post. I began using Goodreads two years ago and wrote about Everything I Love About Goodreads as I got started with it.

My goals for 2014 included:

1. Read 55 books (not including picture books)

2. Read one professional book a month

3. Have family “Read to Self” time

This year I did not meet my goal of reading 55 books, yet I wonder how few books I would have read if I didn’t have a goal at all? As I review the books I did read, what is not reflected are books that I have reread this year as I read them for staff/admin book studies or gone back to books that had such an impact on me like The Miracle Morning, High Impact Instruction, Lean In and Digital Leadership. Although I do not have statistics to prove this, I also believe I read fewer books, because I read more blog posts, read a few book drafts as a peer reviewer (so I couldn’t log them on Goodreads), and spent more time writing (a future book to be published!) I also realize once again that when I don’t read much fiction, I don’t read as much overall. I’ve written about this previously in Sharing My Reading Life.  Just in time to make my Reading Resolutions, my good friend, Leah Whitford posted that she’s going to take on the following Reading Challenge:

2015 Reading Challenge

In the words of Barney Stinson, “Challenge Accepted!” 

In all seriousness though, I think this is exactly what I need to get out of my reading comfort zone for 2015. I don’t feel like I need a goal of reading a professional book a month, because it’s such an ingrained habit for me to always be reading one, that I know I will do it anyways (or close to it).

When I shared this with a teacher in my building she said that her class already made a 2nd grade version of this list for their class to challenge themselves. What a great idea!

So, my Reading Resolutions for 2015 are…

1. Read 50 books

2. Get out of my reading comfort zone and read different genres

3. Have family “Read to Self” time


Next on my list…post my new Reading Resolutions at school for students to see and decide how else to share with them and challenge them to read a lot and challenge themselves.


Digital Student Portfolios

Over the years I have come to know Matt Renwick, fellow WI Principal known as @ReadbyExample on Twitter, as a wise literacy leader and tech guru that I love to learn from.  As our school continued to add technology and then implemented our 1:1 iPad program this year, he was a colleague that often shared resources with me; resources that he had created to help his teachers learn how to use their iPads for both teacher and student use.  So, when I heard that he was writing a book about their (school) experience of using Digital Portfolios I was ecstatic for him and eager to read the book to learn even more from him!

Digital Student Portfolios

I’m humbled to have been one of his first readers and even more so to have had the opportunity to co-write the forward to his book along with Curt Rees.  We both agreed that this book is a fantastic resource for teachers to utilize the power of the technology at hand to focus on documenting student learning in digital format as they focus on individual student progress and respond to their students’ needs.  In this book, Matt shares real examples of great learning among his teaching staff, along with steps they took that didn’t work, but they learned from them and moved forward.  What’s even better is there are several links to video clips throughout the book so you can learn from screencasts or see examples of digital/audio content of their students.  You can find some of these digital resources from his book HERE on his blog.

Where can you find Matt’s book? Go HERE to order his book.  Happy Reading!





Habit 2 of Wild Readers

My next several Monday Musings posts for staff will be sharing my learning as I read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. Here’s this week’s post for our staff:

I’m continuing to share what I learn as I read Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. (Previous posts are here and here.)  Habit 2 of Wild Readers are that they self-select reading material, a habit that I see instilled already in most of our students with the Daily 5 framework solidly in place. Why do we have students self-select reading material?  Miller identifies the following reasons (p.46):

  • Allows students to value their decision-making ability
  • Fosters their capacity to choose appropriate literature
  • Gives them confidence and a feeling of ownership
  • Improves reading achievement
  • Encourages them in becoming lifelong readers
But what about those students that struggle with self-selecting an appropriate book? According to Miller, “Students who cannot successfully choose texts that meet their personal and academic reading goals fail to develop a vital skill that all wild readers possess.” (p. 47)
So what can you do to help your students that are currently unable to self-select?  Here are suggestions from Miller:
  • Read-Alouds
  • Reading Community Suggestions
  • Creating Book Buzz (1 easy example is a raffle drawing to get to be the 1st reader of the new classroom library books)
  • Abandoning Books (conversations about when/why to abandon a book) – Miller recognizes that habitual book abandoners do’t have the reading experience to know how a typical story will flow with building pages to set the stage for entertaining conflicts.
  • Selection Reflections-do they know other readers, online sources or book stores/libraries to go to for book recommendations? Miller shares (in the appendix of the book) a student selection reflection form that can help you as the teacher get to know more about how/why they selected/abandoned a book.
  • Preview stacks- create a stack of books you think a student might like, let them preview/choose from the stack (or reject all to find a different book).
*While I am giving bullet points in this post, the book obviously goes much more into detail to build a better understanding of how/why for each of these.

Identifying Fake Readers


My next several Monday Musings posts for staff will be sharing my learning as I read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. Here’s this week’s post for our staff:

As I shared in last week’s Monday Musings, Habit 1 of “Wild Readers” is that they dedicate time to read. I am still devouring chapter one on this habit, spending quite a bit of time thinking about Fake and Avoidance Reading. I’m sure you can think of at least one student in your class that falls in this category.  These are the students that spend more time preparing to read or going to the bathroom than they do actually reading.  You all know from building the Daily 5 structure that just telling them to sit down and read will not do any good, so what do you do?

According to Donalyn Miller, fake reading and avoidance reading commonly occur when students lack independent reading habits, confidence, or adequate reading skills.  To help our fake readers, we need to identify their coping behaviors that are helping them hide the fact that they aren’t actually reading.  Here are some warning signs that Miller identifies:

  • Finishes few books or finishes books too quickly.
  • Abandons books often.
  • Conducts personal errands during reading time.
  • Fidgets or talks a lot.
  • Rarely has a book to read.
  • Acts like a wild reader. (these are the hardest to identify)
As Miller explains this in her book, she actually took her conferring time on a few different days to secretly observe these students during the literacy block to record their reading behaviors (or lack there of) and then delicately confront them about their fake reading behaviors.  (When she met with the student she showed her notes that included “not turning pages,” “staring out the window,” “head on the desk” “turned a group of pages”) A common excuse for these fake readers is that “reading is boring.” These students have probably never had a positive reading experience, such as connecting to a book or even completing one.  She then gave the student an opportunity to reflect and make a plan together.
Do you have a fake reader in your class? Let me know if you’d like to try using Miller’s form to record their reading behaviors and have a discussion with them to move them forward. Want to read the book? We have several copies available in the professional reading library for you to check out.

Sharing Reading in the Wild

My next several Monday Musings posts for staff will be sharing my learning as I read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. Here’s this week’s post for our staff:

Read Across America week is probably my favorite week of the year, because I love reading and love any opportunity to promote it.  We celebrate reading in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday (on March 2) this week and encourage all of our students/families to celebrate reading together.  What is great about Dodgeland, is that this doesn’t happen just during Read Across America Week.  You all do a tremendous job of sharing your reading lives with your students, modeling a passion for reading each day, and having classroom practices that promotes building lifelong reading habits.

I am currently reading Donalyn Miller’s latest book, Reading in the Wild in which she shares habits of “Wild Readers” (as a result of surveying over 800 adult readers). I plan to share each of these habits with you throughout the next few weeks.

Habit 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read

The #1 excuse to not read is not having time.  Parenting, work, housework, homework, etc. all excuses to not read.  But Wild Readers make time to read.  They read during small moments throughout the day when they can “steal” an opportunity to read.  What about reading logs to keep track of time?  Most wild readers don’t keep track of their time, they don’t have a concrete amount of time that they’ve read, because they often just sneak in those times throughout the day to read.  Miller points out how a mandate of reading 30 minutes a night can often be interpreted by students as 30 solid minutes. If they don’t have 30 consecutive minutes (because of their busy schedules) then they’ll likely just not read at all, not realizing that 5 minutes here and there can add up throughout the day.   How can you share these kinds of ideas with your students to help them learn about ways to find time to read?   I hope that our “reading storms” this week can help prompt the idea that we can “steal” minutes of reading throughout the day.

As you think about your classroom and Daily 5 block, does your structure give students enough time to read each day?  Donalyn Miller points out that we cannot blame parents when kids don’t read at home and then neglect the need for daily reading time at school.  It is easy for interruptions, special projects, unfinished work to sneak it’s way into the Daily 5 routine, taking away from students’ time to read.  Please be the protector of that time, because every reading minute for our students is precious!


My Reading Resolutions for 2014


A new tradition for myself each New Year is to make Reading Resolutions, which I made last year in this post.  Just like any goal, I like to review my progress and make new goals.

In 2013 my reading resolutions included:

1. Use Goodreads to track my reading.  I have used it all year and love using Goodreads. I have found that I get many new book ideas added to my list, thanks to those that I follow on Goodreads that have similar book interests.

2. Have family “Read-to-Self” time with my kids. With sports schedules, I haven’t been as faithful to this as I would like. We read together everyday, but not as “read to self.” I also realize that I often don’t, because I don’t trust that my son is reading. We just had a conversation about this and just as teachers need to extend that trust to their students that they are reading, I need to do the same at home with my own child!
3. Read 1 professional book a month I wasn’t faithful to finishing one each month, but I did read 12 total this year.

4. Read 280 books. In this goal, 55 were to be for novels, professional books and kids’ chapter books.  I hit 51, which is pretty darn close and I am almost certain that number would have been much lower if I hadn’t made a goal at all (that’s why goals are good to have!).  As for the rest adding up to 280 for picture books. I don’t know. I wasn’t faithful to adding books into Goodreads, because I would often read those books to my kids at bedtime, doze off and forget to put them in. I’m not going to put pressure/guilt on myself about recording these this year.

I liked these goals last year and am going to basically stick with them again:

2014 Reading Resolutions

1. Read 55 books (not including picture books)

2. Read one professional book a month

3. Have family “Read to Self” time


2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Jessica has
read 0 books toward her goal of 55 books.


My Summer Reading Bucket List

If you follow my blog then you know that I’m an avid reader with a goal to read 55 books this year(you can read it in this post). So far, I have read 31 books since January and have a stack of books that have piled up that I look forward to read this summer. My only problem is that I have so many stacked up, it’s hard to make a “what’s next” plan.

Here’s my professional reading stack:

I am currently reading The Multiplier Effect with our district admin team and we will be moving on to Cultures Built to Last as we attend the PLC Institute in July. I will also be reading Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess (who I was so fortunate to meet at the ASCD conference) for the #educoach chat starting on July 10th.

As I’ve previously written about (in this post), I’m trying very hard to not be so boring and also make sure that I read fiction, so here is my “reading for pleasure” stack for the summer:

What’s on your summer reading bucket list?  Can you read any in either of my stacks to help persuade me to move it to the top?

Why School?

Image from Edtechworkshop

This weekend I downloaded the book Why School? by Will Richardson after seeing numerous educators on Twitter recommend it.  It was a whopping $2.99, but one of the best reads (and a quick read) to challenge our thinking about school.

Here is a TEDTalk given by the author, Will Richardson, talking about how the internet resources available to us today are making learning different.  Even if you don’t watch the entire video (which is 14 minutes) please watch the first 1:28 minutes of it as he tells the story of his daughter learning to play Journey on the piano.

I cringed when he told about the piano teacher saying his daughter wasn’t ready to play Journey yet.  I then wondered if there are any times that we put similar limits on our students?

Why School? is a great summary of why schools must be different than they were when we went through school.  Schools are no longer the place to go to receive information and then memorize it to regurgitate it on a worksheet or a test.  That is the type of school that prepared children for factory work.  We are now preparing students for jobs that do not even exist today.  Richardson quotes psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy who predicts that “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write. The illiterate will be those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”  I had to think deeply about that quote, but really can connect to how true it is with changing technologies. Think about how many times you have had to change something you do technology-wise because the program has updated (Microsoft word is the perfect example) or had to completely stop using a program and learn a new one (ex: change of gradebook to a new student information system).  At the rate web 2.0 tools are coming out, this learning, unlearning and relearning can happen daily!

In the video clip above (which was from 2011 so I’m sure the numbers have changed), Richardson says that by using their phones, a student could have access to 2 billion potential teachers…no, not certified teachers, but people who can teach them how to do something.  Information and knowledge is everywhere, not just in the teacher’s heads to impart to students.  I just checked the web history on our home computer and found that we have learned the following in the past month from youtube/google:

For our students to be successful, they will need to know how to find accurate information, think about and solve real world problems, be able to create and share with others and collaborate with others…not just in the classroom but at a global level.

Here are some of the “nuggets” I highlighted in Why School?:

  • “Remaking assessment starts with this: Stop asking questions on tests that can be answered by a google search.” 
  •  “Performance-based assessments, where students actually have to do something with what they know, tell us volumes more about their readiness for life than bubble sheets or contrived essays.”
  • “We can raise the teaching profession by sharing what works, by taking the best of what we do and hanging it on the virtual wall. Many would argue that it is now the duty of teachers to do so.”
  • “We have to stop delivering the curriculum to kids. We have to start discovering it with them.” 
  • Be a master learner…”in times of great change, learners will inherit the earth, while the learned will be beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists.” (quote from philosopher Eric Hoffer).  
  • “There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.”
  •  Do real work for real audiences.
  •  “Don’t teach my child science; instead, teach my child how to learn science -or history or math or music.”

Everything I love about Goodreads

One of my Reading Resolutions for 2013 is to use Goodreads to track my books, maintain a to-read list and connect with others for reading.  I used Goodreads years ago, but switched to Shelfari when I wanted to have a widget on my blog to show what I have been reading.  Over this time, Goodreads came up with that widget I was missing and a lot of other really cool features that make it the best place for book nerds to go!

When I first started my account I was a bit overwhelmed. I didn’t want to lose the books I had tracked in Shelfari. I was able to import my list, but 7 of them didn’t transfer and I couldn’t figure out which ones they were so I got over it and moved on. Then I was amazed by how many different shelves people create in their accounts and had to make a decision.  Am I book nerdish enough to create a shelf for each genre? The Book Whisperer would (and does) so she can easily refer back to it to help students find books, but it’s not ultimately my role each day as principal to do so.  I decided to stick with the 3 main shelves you are given–read, currently reading, and to-read. I added 2 additional shelves: Professional ed books and Books I read with my sons.  We’ll see in 2013 if I change my mind and decide to add other shelves…you can do that whenever you want!
When it comes to reading I am notorious for having several books going at one time. Ok, not at one moment in time, but you know what I mean…a book at my home desk, a book at my office desk, a book on my kindle, then quickly purchase a book from amazon that someone tweeted out for a book study.  Whenever I see a book title recommended by someone I respect greatly on twitter I go out and get it immediately and start reading. It’s time to get control of myself and utilize the to-read function on Goodreads.  I love how you can continue to add titles and then easily change the order they appear in.  
A few other features I’ve already been enjoying about Goodreads…
*You can enter your goal # of books to read for 2013 and will keep track of your progress as you update your books read.  I’ve added this as a widget on the right side of my blog.  Here’s what it looks like:
*When I am logged in I see the updates of any of my Goodreads friends. This lets me see whatever they have just added to their bookshelves or To-Read lists.  I’ve already found myself adding books to my To-Read list thanks to my friends.  Here’s a small screenshot of what this looks like:
*I am just beginning to explore the Groups and Discussions feature.  In discussions you can see what others have written on books and you can add to the discussion.  You can also join a group that looks similar to any other type of message board that people subscribe to.  I was invited to join the following group:
The only issue I have encountered with Goodreads is that when I first set up my account, I used the option to start an account using my Twitter account. Makes sense, since I planned to tweet about it anyways, right?  Unfortunately, Goodreads hasn’t fully figured this feature out yet, because I can’t update all of my profile or change my password. When I try, I get this message:
It won’t take my Twitter password  and it only gives an option to confirm with Facebook…even though they let me use Twitter to start my account! Very confusing. You can also not login to the iPad app using Goodreads if you started your account through Twitter. I’m hoping it gets fixed soon, but I’m still using it now just going through the browser. 
If you’re wondering, “how on Earth do you have time for this?”  I spent an hour or two (off and on) exploring Goodreads on New Year’s Eve to find all this stuff. Now each day I just check in before bed to update my current reading progress and if I have time, see what other people’s updates are. 
There are so many great features to Goodreads that I’m still learning about. Please let me know if you have something to share and help me out!