I recently read Cheryl Boes’ article in Edutopia about promoting teacher book clubs as an opportunity for individualized, engaging and meaningful professional development. The objective is simple: teachers from a variety of school systems utilize an online forum/blog, to engage in conversation about a common text, which will in turn inform the practice of those involved.
As some of you know, Beth and I have been working hard over the past few years to re-ignite our students’ love of reading (read more about that here), and figured that this professional practice goal would be a great diving board for an interdisciplinary online book club.
For our first text, we will dive into the book that started it all for Beth and me:
“Donalyn Miller says she has yet to meet a child she couldn’t turn into a reader. No matter how far behind Miller’s students might be when they reach her 6th grade classroom, they end up reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year. Miller’s unconventional approach dispenses with drills and worksheets that make reading a chore. Instead, she helps students navigate the world of literature and gives them time to read books they pick out themselves. Her love of books and teaching is both infectious and inspiring. The book includes a dynamite list of recommended “kid lit” that helps parents and teachers find the books that students really like to read.”
The book can be purchased on Amazon for around $14 (Kindle version) or paperback for $19. It is available in many libraries throughout the region as well.
As far as schedule, the book is broken up into seven chapters that vary in length. I’m thinking that either Beth or I will write a post per chapter with a few questions, and then using the threaded-conversation model on our website, we will share our thoughts, questions and ideas for application into our own practice. We’ll post our first set of Chapter Questions around the middle of September to give you time to get your hands on the text.
Realizing that we are all very busy (we are teachers, after all), I’m proposing a reading schedule that allows for flexibility with each person, so we will post new Chapter Questions every other week.
If you scroll down on this page, you can elect to “follow” our site. This function will send you an email whenever we add a new post about our online book club.
Chapter 1 Discussion Questions
- A1: What brought you to this online book discussion? What are you hoping to gain from it?
- A2: In the first chapter, Donalyn Miller discusses what she used to do and how she was “lost in the wilderness” (12). Can you think of an aspect of your craft as an educator that you could improve on? Have you ever been “lost in the wilderness”?
- A3: What were some of your first memories as a reader, and how does this shape who you are/were in the classroom?
CHAPTER 2 Questions:
Q1: Miller writes, “Although I never state it outright to my students, my mandate that they read and the enthusiasm I show for books sends a powerful message. I want my students to know that I see each of them as a reader” (23). What do you want your students to know, and how do you send this message?
Q2: Miller’s asserts that all students are readers; some just haven’t come into their own yet. The key to engaging readers, according to Miller, is “providing students with the hoportunity to choose their own books to read” (23). How do you see this working in your classroom? What reservations exist?
Q3: In this chapter, the author identifies three types of readers: developing, dormant, and underground. (Chris and I created our own fourth type: avid, lifelong readers.) What type of reader were you in school? What type of reader is the most difficult for you to engage in your practice?
Please feel respond to these questions in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the page. I’ve tagged each question with an indicator (A1, A2, A3), so feel free to reference those when you respond. It’s up to you if you want to do this, but it may help others respond to your thoughts. Also, if you want to respond to someone else’s comment without starting a new thread, you can click on “reply” in the top right hand corner of their post. We’ll see how this works out for the first chapter and adjust if necessary. Thanks for being flexible!
We are looking forward to the discussion!
Chris and Beth