My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

July 9, 2014

Reading in the Wild #cyberpd Part 1

I'm excited to be in a virtual book club with Cathy Mere (Reflect and Refine), Laura Komos (Ruminate and Invigorate) and Michelle Nero (Literacy Learning Zone) and many others.  We've chosen to read Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelley.

Please share your thoughts on Cathy's Post!  Here are my thoughts on Chapters 1 & 2:

Growing Readers
This fall, I'm moving from reading support to 1st grade.  This will be my first classroom experience since student teaching many years ago.  I'm excited to have a whole class to learn alongside.  I will have a mix of strong and developing readers.  A few quotes from Donalyn resonated with me as I try to design our literacy block and create goals for our classroom community.

"Our students must see themselves as readers, or they will never embrace reading beyond school." (p.9)
I am so excited to have first graders.  They have a great love for school, books and characters (Elephant! Piggie!).  My job is to empower all of them to read like crazy, both in and out of school.  I am thinking of asking my mom to sew colorful book bags so that everyone has a bag to keep their books.  I plan to teach each student to keep a book with them at all times so they don't miss out on any reading opportunities.

I'm also planning to pick the brains of every primary teacher I know to figure out how first graders can best keep track of their reading (to be proud!) and respond to reading.  I've been an avid user of Kidblog with my intermediate students, and I hope to help my first graders navigate blogging as a way to have conversations with peers and parents about their reading.

Read Alouds

I was not surprised to read that Donalynn reads aloud to her middle school students every day.  I see read aloud time as a non-negotiable part of my literacy block.  I remember hearing author Jim Aylesworth speak about his first day teaching first grade.  He discovered that the secret to keeping his students engaged was through read alouds.

"They (read alouds) provide prime opportunities to introduce students to genres they often avoid, like poetry, biographies, and nonfiction." (p. 49)

I will use read alouds to make sure my reading diet, and my students' reading diets, are balanced.  Poetry is especially fun to read and short non-fiction is great for curious first grade minds.  Biographies can help our littlest learners understand why we don't have school on Columbus Day.

I plan to have a whole bucket of my favorite read alouds, and I will encourage my students to share their favorite books from home.  I'm trying to figure out how to best track our read alouds... perhaps an infographic of the book covers?  Maybe a list?  I am hoping to enlist the help of our library staff in labeling some shelves in the library with character pictures (The Pigeon, Babymouse, Katie Woo) to better help our youngest readers (and English learners) find favorite books.

Yes, my head is swimming with all the ideas and questions and hopes and dreams for my first grade classroom.  I hope you are excited about returning to school with lots of ideas from Donalynn and Susan, as well as all the other bloggers!

Thanks for stopping by... I welcome all your ideas, comments and gems!


  1. I like the idea of a bucket of read alouds. I'm still trying to figure out how I will do this in high school. I have one class it will work well with. I want to choose a great book to start with, but also share other genres. A bucket sounds like what I need :)

  2. I need to figure out how to keep track of our read-alouds too. I'm going to create a Good Reads shelf for myself. Love the idea of labeling shelves with character images to support all readers! And love the idea of sharing many different genres during read-aloud. Do you follow Kid Lit Frenzy? Alyson hosts a nonfiction picture book challenge every Wednesday. I participate and also discover so many great new titles from reading the blogs of others who participate.

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  4. I am so excited for you because I can hear the excitement your post and because teaching FIRST GRADE IS THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD!! I love love, love my job! I

    My class uses Shelfari to keep track of read alouds and the kids add the books! Parents and kids have access to our bookshelf anytime they like!

    You may also want to join (but I am guessing you already have) #PB10for10. Cathy host this event too where readers share their most beloved 10 picture books.

    GOOD LUCK! I look forward to reading more about your journey!

    1. Hooray! Another firstie to follow! Thanks for the big vote of confidence and the Shelfari idea. I'm slowly getting everything ready for this fall.

  5. Chris,
    We're like the sisters in Parent Trap or the mother/daughter in Freaky Friday as we switch places in the coming year. I'm excited for you. There are so many things I will miss about having my own classroom. I'm hoping I can make up for them by considering our school as my reading new reading community and helping to build connections among readers. Time will tell. I enjoyed the way you shared quotes and then the implications for your classroom. I'm sure you have been busily planning for your new year. Best of luck!


  6. Chris,

    I'm so thrilled to hear the excitement in your writing about your plans. Your students are very fortunate to have such a passionate and caring teacher. As for helping your students (and yourself) keep track of personal reading and read aloud books, have you considered using digital pictures and audio podcasts? I don't know what technologies you have available, but I know a lot of first graders could create these things.

    Best wishes,

  7. Chris,
    I'm thrilled you joined in the conversations. Interesting to hear your thoughts with a different voice, a first grade teacher voice!

    You have so many great ideas for your classroom. I like the electronic bookshelf idea - where students and parents have access! You can create so many bookshelves too! (Read alouds, genre, favorite book of the week -- I believe Laura Komos did this in her first grade classroom. The kids voted on their favorite RA each week!) I'm not sure if the kids can have their own account, but have you looked into Biblionasium? Goodreads for kids! Let's research this together!

    Speaking of read alouds, I just read a tweet from Lester Laminack about when to do read alouds (beginning of the day? end of the day?):
    "Both/and. Not either/or. Read aloud to open the day. Read aloud to close the day. bookends." Bookends. I. Love. It. Happy reading my friend!!!

    Also, thinking about students responding to books, I'm surprised Deb didn't mention using Voice Thread. Visit her blog to learn more! Your kiddos can do this too! Some amazing things can happen in first grade.

    Love your character labels!! Yes!! And I'm going to do that too! Love that idea!

    Wow ... this is refreshing talking to a classroom teacher that gets wild reading. (wink wink) I can't wait to visit your first grade reading oasis!

  8. Chris,
    I am so excited for you!! I had 18 wonderful years in first grade.I can already hear the wheels turning in your brain, and the ideas are all fabulous! My first graders used KidBlog and Biblionasium to keep track of their reading. Both are easy for 6 & 7 year olds to navigate! Yes, Michelle is right - I had my firsties vote on their favorite picture book read aloud each week and posted them on a bulletin board. (I believe I stole this idea from Cathy Mere, to be honest!) I'm looking forward to following along with your journey and am happy to help in any way I can. :)

  9. I just found your comment, Chris, and thought I'd find you, too. How exciting & a little bit scary to have your own classroom, but your ideas sound very good, & just right for 1st graders. It looks like you got lots of comments above from those already in the first grade. I taught middle school for years, but work with all ages as a lit coach. One of those teachers of primary that I work with put printed out copies of their read aloud book covers on her door, FYI. Reading in her classroom is awesome; we share picture books constantly. Best wishes!