30 January 2014

The Book Whisperer

I am an advocate of reading. I am an avid reader. Many posts and Tweets contest to such. Always wanting to improve my practice and approach to delivering reading to my learners, I recently picked up a copy of @Donalynbooks The Book Whisperer.

It confirmed much of what I do in regards reading, as sound and effective methodology, such as free-reading, and reading time every day, as well as modelling being an actual reader. The book also gave me some areas to think about and re-work, such as the ubiquitous class novel.
Red Dot Book Awards

We are already reading every lesson, and learners have accepted my Reading Challenge 2014. In addition, as part of my Future of Fiction unit which explores where storytelling might be going, and how technology might help us to tell stories, I am including some reading circles, using books from the Red Dot Book Awards in Singapore.

The Red Dot Book Awards is a student choice book awards organised by the International Schools Libraries Network in Singapore. Each year, four age-grouped categories featuring eight books each are released. Learners read and then vote for their favourite, and a Readers' Cup competition about the books is held later in the year.

Reading Circle Organisation and Implementation

Never one to shy away from changing a lesson mid-way through and always with an eye to teachable moments, I implemented some changes to a lesson yesterday based on my thinking from the book.

I had set up the relevant web-page and resources for the launch lesson. I had arranged time in the library with our librarian @Pak_Shaun.

My initial plan was to:
- introduce the Red Dot Books and fire them up by sharing books Shaun and I had already read
- get groups together to review and decide on their first book
- ask learners to make decisions about their progress and begin!

I finished The Book Whisperer the night before the lesson - and immediately knew I wanted to make some changes. The lesson began at 08.30am, so I went in early to create a review exercise based on ideas from the book. Fortunately, using Google Apps for Education means changes are easy to implement.
Book Whisperer Blog

My plan then became to:
introduce the Red Dot Books and fire them up by sharing books Shaun and I had already read
get individuals to review and evaluate five of the books, giving each a rating out of 5
get groups together to review and decide on their first book
ask learners to make decisions about their progress and begin!

As learners worked away at their evaluations, I decided to implement another change - again based on my reading of The Book Whisperer. I want to allow learners to develop a LOVE of learning. I had initially decided on the groups, mixing up the class to allow for support with reading, challenge others, separate distractors etc. However, as I mingled and discussed their opinions about each book, I realised that I needed to allow them to read with the people who shared a passion and excitement for similar books.

And so, my plan finally became:-
introduce the Red Dot Books and fire them up by sharing books Shaun and I had already read
get individuals to review and evaluate five of the books, giving each a rating out of 5
- stack titles around and ask learners to stand with the one they wanted to read first
ask learners to gather with their groups make decisions about their progress and begin!

Shaun also showed learners how to reserve their next book choice on our library system.

Luckily, as I use Google Sites and Google Docs, I was able to edit the lists and site in real-time - with the learners, so they know I adapt and change things as I go. I allow them to see me learning and changing things to help benefit their educational experience, in the hope they understand that making changes is ok; that we do revise what we do and how we progress depending on how we experience things.

I am hoping they will be more motiviated by their own choices in terms of books and groups. The class is very mixed - some are avide readers, some less so. However, all ARE reading ALL of the time now - and I hope this freedom and voice will cultivate a deeper love and appreciation of reading.

Watch this space!

The whole lesson can be seen HERE. Reviews of some of the books from the Red Dot Awards I have read (so far), can be seen HERE.