This ‘just 1 book‘ guest post is long overdue, and I’m so looking forward to sharing. Dawn Little is a fellow Marylander, a teacher and literacy expert, an author and blogger. Our paths have crossed many times online, and although we’re only a stone’s throw from each other here in the suburbs of DC, we have yet to catch up and chat in real life.
I’m hoping that we can actually connect sometime before the school year’s end, because I’d love to pick the brain of such an incredibly talented and gifted teacher.
Here, Dawn shares her post about a book that inspired her (and me, too!), and she is giving away one copy of her own book, Teaching Comprehension with Nonfiction Read Alouds. Awesome!!
About the author: Dawn Little is the author of Teaching Comprehension with Nonfiction Read Alouds: 12 Lessons for Using Newspapers, Magazines, and Other Nonfiction Texts to Build Key Comprehension Skills. She blogs at Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books where she provides educators with picture book lessons based on comprehension strategies and the Six Traits of Writing. In addition, she blogs at Literacy Toolbox where she provides educators and parents with tips and tools to enhance the literacy lives of children. She is the founder and President of Links to Literacy, a company dedicated to providing interactive literacy experiences for children and families. Find out more at www.linkstoliteracy.com
- just 1 book: author guest post by Dawn Little
All it took, was just one book. . . to help me become the teacher I wanted to be, by Dawn Little
As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. As a child, I’d transform my room into a classroom. I’d “dress” like a teacher on Career Day. I babysat regularly and created “lessons” for my charges.
Teaching has always been a part of me, part of my identity. It was a no-brainer that I would major in education in college. I loved every minute of preparing to become a teacher. When I was finally able to student teach, I honed my teaching philosophy and planned meticulous lessons based on the county curriculum. Then it was my turn. I was hired! I was excited to have my own classroom. I was ready. I became a first year teacher of fourth graders. I was comfortable in the classroom, comfortable teaching my first class of students, but what kind of teacher was I going to be? How would the teaching philosophy I had worked so hard on transfer into practice?
I really wasn’t sure. I was comfortable in the classroom, but I wasn’t sure how to combine the process of teaching the curriculum with my own philosophy of teaching. I knew I wanted to incorporate reading – read alouds and independent reading, specifically – into the curriculum, but I wasn’t sure how.
When I began teaching, our district had a language arts curriculum that consisted of nine-week planners. I remember being so excited as a student teacher to attend the district-planned professional development that introduced the nine-week planners. Total teacher nerd, I know! The planners provided teachers with a few objectives for teaching language arts during the nine-week marking period. We taught with core novels for which we provided comprehension questions. While I was pleased that I was able to teach with actual books and not basals like I grew up with, I still felt something was missing. There had to be more to teaching reading then handing out novels, asking students to read them, discussing the novels with them, and then providing them with questions to assess their comprehension. Not only were my students bored, but I was bored, too! There had to be a better way!
Enter my colleague who introduced me to Strategies that Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis. That was the first time that I realized that professional development didn’t have to just consist of what the district provided. I could read books that could and would transform my teaching. Thankfully that happened early in my career. I have since read many fantastic books that have transformed my teaching in a number of ways. But, I digress.
Strategies that Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement provided me with a new framework to teach language arts, and reading in particular. Based on research that good readers use specific strategies when they read, Harvey and Goudvis provided a rationale and lesson ideas in their first edition (it’s now in its second edition) for comprehension strategies including activating background knowledge, making connections, asking questions, making inferences, and synthesizing. These strategies are just a sampling of what all readers use to help them comprehend text. It was a revelation. Reading is thinking!
Strategies that Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement transformed the way I taught. I no longer felt a need to provide novels for students to read and questions for them to answer. I still taught the curriculum, and we still read the novels, but I taught reading in a workshop approach. I began modeling for students strategies that good readers use. I would read aloud a picture book and explicitly state what I was thinking as I read (noting the specific comprehension strategies I was using). Students were then given opportunities to practice using the same strategy in guided reading groups and then independently. Students began to enjoy reading again. And they were learning how to think when they read (something ALL readers do!).
I have been out of the classroom for a while now. Education is cyclical and there are probably new recommendations for ways to teach reading. However, I firmly believe that what Harvey and Goudvis spent so long researching holds true: reading is thinking, and we must teach our children how to think as they read. I still do this today. I don’t have a classroom of my own anymore, but I do have two children of my own that I model reading strategies for as I read aloud to them every night. I thank Strategies that Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement for that.
I couldn’t agree more, Dawn!! Love, love, love your post.
GIVEAWAY: One copy of Dawn Little’s book, Teaching Comprehension with Nonfiction Read Alouds
- Leave a comment here (along with your email address) simply sharing how you plan to use this text–for homeschooling, in your classroom, for tutoring, for your children’s enrichment, to donate to your child’s teacher, etc.
- For extra entries, you can share this post with a friend (just tell me who you shared it with!) OR Tweet this: Win ‘Teaching Reading Comp w Nonfiction Read Alouds’ by @linkstoliteracy on @teachmama http://teachmama.com/?p=1246 #ece #literacy
This contest ends on Sunday, February 6, 2011 at midnight ET.
Do you want to share a book that moved you? Let me know!
The just 1 book feature gives everyone a chance to share their love of literature and the power of books. Guest writers are invited to share a book that moved him or her: