Friday, February 8, 2013

Expanding Your Reading Genres and Other Mistakes I Made This Week

I'm not a fan of biographies or autobiographies.  I find that autobiographies and memoirs are self-indulgent and generally boring, unless you were there (only read to confirm that the author is "so wrong").  I think biographies are about the same.... the history of a person, as seen through the lens of another.  Many times, there is a bit of scandal tossed in to spice it up.  But, mostly.... one person's opinion of how another lived his/her life.

My friend, Kate (who you also know as our Literacy Consultant/ Coach/ ELA Guru) raved about how fascinating this book was and how she stayed up late to read it.  Those who know her also know that she stays up late to read books about argumentative essay writing.  (I'm not joking- she just did the other day.)  So, based on her review, I stepped out of my cynical box last week and picked up the book on Steve Jobs at the library- I was not actually paying for a 500+ page book about tech genius.  This was the authorized biography, where the author was given full access and Jobs never asked to read it.  Weird, for a control freak.  Any way, I slept great last week!  Each night, I got through about 5 pages and dozed right off.  Clearly- this was my problem..... I've been choosing GOOD books to read before bed.  I should have been reading about how bad Steve Jobs smelled and how he thought he was better than everyone else (which he probably was). 

After about 150 pages, I gave up (NOT a mistake!).  I shared with my students the next day in readers workshop my dilemma.  I was teaching them how readers do not let the connection (text to self, text to text, text to media, etc.) get in the way or distract from the book you are reading.  I allowed my connection to technology and personal opinions about overly confident people get in the way of what may have been a great story.  They were shocked.  Here lies my mistake:  I don't think I ever told them that it's okay to abandon a book when you are just not making a positive connection or enjoying the experience.  I REALLY hope I didn't just shoot myself in the foot here.  I've also told them to keep books in their reading bag for about a week :)

The purpose of reading is to understand.  Whether it is to learn or feel emotions through a character.  The joy of reading is to become fully immersed in your text and allow it to change you or your thinking.  Just like visual art, literary art is to be enjoyed and to provide an escape from our every day lives.  As an educator, I see it as a tool for people to learn about our world.  As a reader, it is a tool to learn about myself.

P.S.  I'm reading Tina Fey's book at 5:30am (snow day) and laughing like a crazy person.  My 12 year old was not amused when I woke him up on accident.  I highly recommend it.  I may just change my views if I find more authors like her!


  1. I am glad that you are doing Reader's Workshop with first graders! It makes me feel better about my own decision. Unfortunately, I couldn't get RW kicked off this year because I started in a new grade (first coming from fourth), a new district, even a new state, after the school year had started. I wasn't ready to make the transition to first because I was originally placed in a fifth grade classroom. Don't get me wrong; I love that I'm back with the primaries. I just wasn't ready. Lol.

    Anyway. I have BIG plans for Reader's Workshop and Writer's Workshop next year. (My WW has actually been pretty productive this year, but writing doesn't really change... just the level of independence changed. That was easy to accommodate. lol) I'm glad to see that other first graders are doing it!

    What resources do you use for Reader's Workshop? I have plenty of resources for upper elementary through Fountas & Pinnell, Debbie Diller, and Isabelle Beck. I'd love to see what is out there relating more specifically to primary kiddos.

    I guess I'm your newest follower tonight. I found your blog through Proteacher. I hope to see you at my blog soon. (I also hope to actually update my blog soon - I have SO much to write about, but hardly any time to post.)

    Have a great weekend!

    Floating Through First Grade

  2. Welcome! Thanks for the reply :) For much of my Readers Workshop, I use our county's lessons based on the work of Kathy Collins and Lucy Calkins. I also sprinkle in some comprehension work by Tanny McGreggor. There is a list of my proffessional book favorites linked at the side of this blog.

    Our county starts readers workshop in kindergarten! Since our readers need to be at about a DRA 4/ GL D when they enter first grade, there is no time to waste. Kindergarten is a HUGE foundational year for word study and story structure. They are more than capable :)

    Our district does writers and readers workshop. Our literacy scores are great and child interest level is extremely high. It really is a culture once a whole building commits to it.

    Best wishes,