Kylene Beers and Robert Probst are mentioned a few times on my blog and for good reason. They have helped form my thoughts and opinions on reading instruction and so many other things. Today I want to talk a little about a book that I think all teachers should read, heck even parents should have this book to help them advocate better for their children in a day and age where truth is not always as important as catchy headlines.
Disrupting Thinking speaks to the importance of readers being not only responsive to text (react to what they read) but also to be responsible (do something with that reaction). My students this year thought it was very funny and even “cool” that Donald Trump was running for President of the United States, as Grade 6 students in Canada their only frame of reference was his TV show and his “Wall”. We discussed current events often and after Trump won and announced his immigration ban legislation my kids again thought it was great because he was “kicking out all the terrorists”. Again I say these are 11 year old Canadian kids so this did not have as much impact on them as it would American kids. I decided I wanted to dive right into the idea of being responsive, responsible, compassionate (another point of importance in Disrupting Thinking) readers with my class. I gave them some background information about the countries that were listed on the ban and then we read an article from Newsela, it was not about the ban but about the families being impacted by it. Because of our work with Notice and Note Non-fiction and annotation of text my students got to work marking off the things that surprised them, confused them and changed or confirmed their thinking. The added step was I wanted them to take time to think about those things more and the what it was about those points that made them think. The conversations that we had around families and why people who had done nothing were being punished. They were holding themselves responsible for how they felt and it was impacting both their thinking and their conversations about the text. Simple but powerful.
We live in a time where fake news and alternative facts are not only common place but even defended as “their truth”. Kids of today need to be taught to have a critical eye when reading any sources of information. The Responsible, Responsive and Compassionate reader does not take whatever is put in front of them and take it is fact. I do not want my students to be a captive audience and take everything I say as the truth without allowing themselves to investigate their own feelings and thoughts. Disrupting Thinking and the ideas presented within gave me permission to explore more than just the words on the page but also the thoughts in our head and the feelings in our hearts. It also gave us a way to organize these thoughts and feelings.
BHH or Book, Head and Heart is introduced in Disrupting Thinking as a way that responsible readers can respond to something they have read. The book part should be pretty self explanatory, what is the book or article talking about, what does the author want us to know? Head revisits the ideas presented in Beers and Probsts previous work, Notice and Note, What surprised me, what did the author think I knew (what confused me) What did I notice? Finally heart, How does the text impact me, what did I learn about myself and how could it help me to be better? At first my students gave me that “You have to be kidding me” look. “We have to talk about our feelings?” to which I said no but you need to be open to how the story makes you feel personally. After reading through this book I knew the power of the framework within my own thinking but I was not ready for how easy my students would pick it up as long as they could connect. The even crazier thing was the freedom to represent it how they wanted made them like it even more. I keep reading journals (I get it not everyone does, AND THAT IS OK) the majority of my kids chose BHH as their way to reflect when asked to record it from day 1 going forward.
There is power in giving kids choice, there is power in helping them open their minds, to question, to think, to feel what the words they read make them feel. I can not give this book a greater endorsement. I think every teacher needs to read it, I wish every teacher training program gave it to their graduating students and I wish every parent had the chance to sit down with their children and talk to them about BHH and why allowing ourselves to look at a text in many ways helps us to think. Kids need to be thought of as more than a test score, more than a reading level. They are the future and we need a future of responsive, responsible readers that are guided not just by achievement (trust me though the ideas of Kylene and Robert do assist kids in achievement) but also their heart, a desire to see the world as more than just how it impacts them but how they can impact it.
Man I love this book.
Here is a few examples of my kids BHH reactions from last year. Now go read this book 🙂