Books and people inspire me to rethink the practices I hold on to in my reading and writing workshops. The Readers Notebook is a tool my students and I use that I do not think I will ever let go of. However, my thinking is changing on how to best use this tool.
Last year, I discovered that most of the third graders in my classroom were extremely creative. They loved to draw. So, I taught them how to Zentangle. We scoured You Tube videos and Pinterest on our ipads to find new patterns to learn and practice. We made anchor charts of the designs we wanted to remember.
I then realized that we are all, including myself, are drawn to visual learning.
I wanted some of that in my Readers Notebooks.
My burning question became:
“How can I make the Readers Notebooks more engaging, user-friendly and fun? And, enhance our learning at the same time?”
My third graders were not always that excited about writing down their thoughts in the notebook at the end of our reading workshop – if only for 5 minutes. They worked diligently on their weekly letters to me – but honestly, they were doing this for me.
We looked at other options to share their evidence of understandings from the books they read. Fountas and Pinnell’s Teaching for Comprehension and Fluency suggests many ways to teach students to do this, of course, each strategy needs to be explicitly modeled first. A few ideas are: webs, character trait charts, chapter summary grids, T-charts, etc. We added these to our repertoire of options, yet I still did not see the enthusiasm I wished for.
But this summer, I followed Debby Ridpath Ohi (@inkyelbows on Twitter) and anxiously awaited her visual displays of the books she was reading for Donalyn Miller’s Book A day Challenge. I’d read some of the books she shared, so I was excited to see what elements she decided to jot down and put on the page. Here are some of her examples:
and. . .
Here are some things Debbie did:
*She added an image of the book and the author. Visual Stuff. Artsy. A collage kind of thing. I like this because I art journal and cutting and glueing and arranging things on paper are a love of mine.
*She adds what she’d like to find out more about by going to an author’s blog. She notes the blog.
*She drew a few sketches about how the book changed her life – just one thing!
Another inspirationalist I follow on Twitter is Leah O’ Donnell. Oh, I can’t keep up with this lady! I sizzle with energy every time I see what she is up to. She also does some doodling of the books she reads. Here are a couple of examples:
If you want to read more research, go here, or here (under Research Links). And, here are some visual literacy standards on Edutopia.
And, if you’d like a visual:
from page 17 of The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown.
A personal thought is also that we rush kids through books and do not give them enough time to let a book marinate in their souls long enough. We need to let books linger for a while, just like soup. It always tastes better after it’s been simmering all day. New thoughts and ideas keep bubbling up the longer we allow a book to stay with us.
Like anything new we teach to students, we’d need to start small and with what students already know. I’m thinking we’ll do some visual notes on a couple of class read alouds first and go from there – adding various doodles and sketch note strategies little by little. Or perhaps they could do a visual page of who they are, an identy project to help us all learn more about one another. However we choose to introduce this, anchor charts will be a must.
And most importantly, if we are expecting our kids to do it, we need to walk the walk alongside of them, and do it as well.
So, I had a go. . .
Here are a couple of my attempts from some of my summer reads: