Friday, November 29, 2013

Are Your Students "Wild Readers?"

I'm so excited to have Donalyn Miller's new book, Reading in the Wild, in my possession.  Two summers ago, my teammates and I read her first book, The Book Whisperer, and it really changed the way I taught reading in my classroom.  I am happy to say that this new book does not disappoint.  I thought I would share a few things Reading in the Wild has gotten me thinking about as I work my way through it.
1.  Recognize your"Wild Readers."
A wild reader is someone who:
     * Dedicates time to read -- Every single day, no matter how crazy life gets.
     * Are confident in self-selecting their reading material
     * Share books and their reading with others by talking about their reading
     * Have a plan for what they want to read beyond their current book.  (Think "book pile.")
     * Have strong preferences for they kinds of books they like to read

Think of the students in your room.  Can you recognize who your wild readers are?  They could quite possibly be those students who you need to interact with the least.  Those students who move seamlessly from one book to the next, never wasting time during silent reading time by spending 20 minutes in the classroom library, using the restroom, or "forgetting" their book in their backpack or at home.  They are the ones who visit their "reading zone" on a regular basis and are not distracted when they read.  Conferencing with them reveals a deep and rich understanding of and love for reading.  They don't need reminders to read -- it's just what they do.

2.  Spend time observing your students as they read to notice "fake reading".
Reading in the Wild contains some excellent resources in the appendix.  One that I really like is the Independent Reading Time Observation Form.
Miller suggests observing students who do not seem to be making growth for ten minutes over the course of three days.  For each minute, record the student's reading behaviors on this form.  

I tried this with one of my students who was struggling to complete books and keep up with his AR goal. The results were amazing as for showing me how much time he was NOT reading and led to a very important discussion with the student about fake reading as I worked with him to choose books that were more on his ability and interest level.

3.  Teach students to "Read on the Edge."
Reading on the Edge means that readers capture even the tiniest moments for reading.  In the car going to grandmas?  Take out a book.  Waiting at the dentist?  Take out a book.  Eating breakfast?  Take out a book.  Miller suggests having students keep track of times they are bored or not doing anything throughout the day.  These moments can become Reading on the Edge moments.  She even includes a form in the appendix for recording these captured reading moments to see just how much they can add up to.
Every day for homework, my students are assigned 20 minutes of reading.  Miller reminded me that it is important to share with the students that these 20 minutes do not need to be consecutive, they can be "edge" minutes.  I know that many students struggle to read for these 20 minutes straight because of responsibilities at home or with outside activities.  Teaching students to capture any time they have to read will add up and keep them reading.

So those are the highlights of my learning from chapter 1.  I will share more of my discoveries with you as I keep reading.

Today is the last day to enter my Rafflecopter to win a set of my  Reading Challenge Genre Tags.  Enter now and good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for the tip, Jennifer! I just got the book for my Kindle. :)
    Grade 4 Buzz

  2. Thank you for a great book recommendation. It's on my Amazon wish list now.
    Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

    Fit to be Fourth

  3. Oh my goodness! I had no idea Donalyn Miller had a new book!!!! Like you, when I read The Book Whisperer a few years ago, it totally changed the way I taught Reading. I can't wait to tell my coworkers this news on Monday! Thank you!!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I kept reading about things from your blog on other blogs so I finally had to stop on by! I am so glad I did - this book looks great! I think the idea of "edge reading" will really appeal to my special ed. students. Thanks!


Thank you for taking the time for stopping by! I would love it if you would leave me a comment to let me know that you were here. (Please make sure that you are not a "No Reply Blogger" so that I can email you back.)