I don’t really remember much about my Language Arts classes growing up. I can’t even remember the books I read in class. I remember writing essays I think and some stories but there is nothing that stands out to me, nothing that I would share with my students today. I grew up a Social Studies fan. I remember those classes, the mock UN, the debates, the experiences.
As a teacher, I started out working in third grade and became fascinated with reading comprehension and how students were understanding the texts they were encountering. That fascination led me to look more into different strategies, the endless sea of strategies out there and I dove in. Strategy after strategy and students becoming more and more frustrated with the “work” reading was becoming.
We look for balance and try again. As a 6th grade teacher, I was blessed with the discovery of Notice and Note and the brilliance of Kylene Beers and Robert Probst. My students were learning to be thinkers and the search for practice in this area brought me to Pernille Ripp and her most excellent blog. Inspired to continue building my literacy beliefs I was lucky again to read Donalyn Millers The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild and my practice continued to evolve. Readicide by Kelly Gallagher and Disrupting Thinking another Kylene and Bob text made me question everything again in the best of ways. I became a teacher that realized I needed to work with a purpose that my students needed to experience joyful literacy work as my friend Dr.Mary Howard champions. My students needed to see what literacy was in a real-world way. We read for joy and used strategies to meet outcomes, we wrote about real things because it was not only easier to connect to the stories of our life but because it taught others about who we were.
In the end, I have realized literacy is not about the tasks, the assignments or the tests. It most certainly isn’t about an endless list of strategies or computer programs. If I want students to be readers, to be writers, to be thinkers we need to do just that. We need to read, we need to write, we need to share the beautiful words we craft with each other and celebrate the books that make us wonder and imagine a world beyond our own.
We Read -We Write – We Share