Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller

Happy Summer!  Please accept my apology for not posting sooner.  Donalyn will soon be speaking to us at the Nov. CRA PDI in Visalia and I can't wait.  Hope to see you there!

Let's get busy reading and blogging to prepare for PDI & our new school year!
Lynn Gurnee,
Past CRA President

Chapter 3:  “There’s a Time and a Place”
Donalyn tells her students reading is not an add-on but the cornerstone of her class time.  She says, “How can we not make time for reading?  Your thoughts?  Here’s some how-to tips:
  •      When you are interrupted by the phone or visitor dropping into class, train kids to get out independent reading books. Also at picture day & in library!  Set goals for library use for when you line up to go and when you get there to make best use of time.  Her kids try to steal time to read & suggested a Ziploc bag for reading during showering!  Ha! That’s a keeper for “kids say darnedest things, eh?”
  •       Students read when work’s finished- if they rush so they can read- great says Donalyn…what do you say?
  •        In her section on creating a place for reading – make it comfortable!  Wish I had Donalyn for a teacher growing up… what about you?
  •       In her section on quiet please except teacher who can be softly conferring.  Your thoughts?

Chapter 4:  Reading Freedom
What do you think about Pennac’s “10 Rights of the Reader?”  (2006)  The right to…  not read, skip pages, not finish, reread, read anything, escapism, read anywhere, browse, read out loud, and not defend your tastes.

Did you enjoy student Jon’s comment. “I think the requirements (40 books) are understandable because if we didn’t have a requirement. Then people like me would read one book for the whole year?” 

Student Rachel liked the variety of books required:  5 poetry, 5 lit., 5 realistic fiction, 2 historical fiction, 4 fantasy, 2 sci. fic., 2 mystery at the request of students, 4 informational, 2 biog, auto-biog., or memoir, and 9 chpt. Books of students’ choice and Alex learned he likes realistic fiction as he used to only read fantasy. And Molly, a picky reader, said she can’t force herself to read a wide variety and liked having the wide selection.  Did these kids convince you to think about these requirements?

Donalyn concentrates on supporting reading, not requirements by…
  •             validating choices:  Who cares if Captain Underpants is a favorite if it encourages reading more, would you agree? (favorites on p. 88 for gr. 4-6)
  •        introducing authors through read alouds
  •        building BG for genres
  •        conferring and meeting students where they are
  •        encouraging notes for genres in Readers’ Notebooks ( based on Fountas/ Pinnell Guiding Readers and Writers Gr. 3-6) with these sections:

Tally & Reading Lists, Books to read Lists, and Response Entries like a letter to author or a letter to a classmate or to teacher.  Are you familiar with Fountas/ Pinnell  book?

Chapter 5:  Walking the Walk
Oh man, wasn’t Parker’s comment priceless…”I feel bad about all those good books out there waiting for me to read them?”  Donalyn writes about the need for reading role models and how to lead the way with modeling and practice.  Her self-reflection activity on p. 111 helps…check it out!
  •      What were your childhood reading experiences?  Positive or negative?
  •       Do you see yourself as a reader now?  How do you share these with students?
  •       Who do you identify with?  (underground, dormant or developing readers)?
  •            Who has been your reading role models?
  •            List last 5 books you read and how long it took to read them?
  •       What was read for professional reasons and what for pleasure?

Did you find Donalyn’s plan helpful?  (Fake it ‘til you make it).
  •      Choose interesting books
  •            Read more children’s books
  •      Take recommendations from students
  •             Investigate recommendations from industry resources like
  •       Reflect on what you’re reading & share
  •             Inspiring others happens when you’re inspired

Chapter 6:  Cutting the Teacher Strings
Donalyn talks about rethinking the class novel and teaching readers, not books.  Your thoughts on these ideas on how to do this?
  • Select a theme, concept or standard children are expected to know & gather wide range of text for book groups
  • Use short stories, excerpts or poems to teach literary elements or reading skills & ask students to apply their understanding to independent books
  • Teach test prep as a reading skill
  • Teach reading as a genre

    What do you think about Donalyn’s idea of ditching book reports & formal book talks for book commercials & reviews?  Simple to check off who shared on class roster & more fun for you & the kids, would you agree?
  •       Do you have anything to add to the book review criteria of quotes from book & reviewers, cliffhanger questions, personal reactions, awards author has won, age level, other books by the author, & comparisons with other books?
  •       Do you use reading logs?  Did you like Donalyn’s alternative to round robin practice of oral reading of giving students a preview & practice time, paired reading, and tapes?
  •       What do you think about Donalyn’s whisper about E-O-Y Evaluation survey asking if they met their genre requirements and to explain?  Is this sufficient accountability?

Chapter 7:  Letting Go
  • Kids mimic what Donalyn teaches them with each other when they browse for books, but then the following year they can’t enjoy this style of teaching and have to be underground readers.  What do you think about this?
  • Can we ask peers to teach students to adopt attitudes and behaviors of best readers? 
  • Can we mimic their connection with books as they sat in their parents lap?
  • Donalyn wonders if you agree to keep students reading, we have to let them do it? 

What did you find helpful in the appendixes?  Do you have more needs than these?
Appendix A  The Care and Feeding of a Classroom Library
Appendix B  Ultimate Library List
Appendix C  Student Forms

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller

Hi there!

Hard to believe that Easter is almost here.  Hope you have a nice spring break.  

BTW, you don't need to read Donalyn's book to blog.  Just share what works in your school or classroom.  Or comment on something that jumps out at you below.

It will be good to hear from you…
Lynn Gurnee,
CRA Past President

March Chapter 2:  “Everybody is a Reader”
  • Each chapter begins with a quote from one of Donalyn’s students.  Emily’s quote, I’ve learned that you can’t hate a book till you’ve tried it!  Bring it on.” is priceless.  Wouldn’t you love for one of your students to say that to you?  What are some things your students said that you want to capture in a journal?  Do share!
  • Donalyn said, “What I thought students needed (in my lesson plans) was not as important as how I responded to their expressed needs.”   Hmm. She realized this only after 3 years of teaching.  Does this surprise you?
  • Donalyn’s labels of 3 reading trends fascinated me… how about you?
1.        Her answer for Developing Readers (often referred to as struggling) is a heavy dose of independent reading with explicit instruction in relevant reading strategies. Her example of Kelsey who was given this “rescue recipe” transformed her to a reader!  What do you think? 
2.       Donalyn describes Dormant Readers (or unmotivated ones) who read to pass but don’t embrace reading and often escape notice like Hope who had fallen behind.  Her answer was to let Hope browse books often & have choice in what to read. What outcome can you predict?
3.        Underground Readers are those like Randy who secretly read his own books rather than those encouraged by teachers.  Donalyn embraces Cambourne’s Conditions of Learning as a way to help all of these above types of readers. Do these conditions ring a bell for you?  Do you have readers like Hope, Randy, and Kelsey?  What are you thinking now?
  •  Loved Donalyn's “whisper” about implementing “Student Surveys.”  Donalyn says her students’ needs call to her from the survey pages and she “whispers” back with books.  Do you share my excitement that Donalyn uses the survey information to stack appropriate books on desks for students to preview? 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller

Yes, our new book club starts today!  Why should you blog with us?
  • It's fun & easy to blog- click comment, type in box & hit publish…that's it!
  •  Easy way to get inspired- no need to read the book to join the fun
  • Donalyn Miller is a Keynote Speaker at CRA’s PDI in Visalia Nov. 4-5
  • You can EASILY earn 1 semester unit to advance on your salary scale (ONLY $60 & you only need to do 3 comments)
  • You may comment anytime night or day from Feb. 1- August  31!!
  • Donalyn currently teaches (and ALL her kids read 40+ books a year) 
  • Allington writes,  "Miller's book is powerful and practical… you understand how to overcome current classroom culture where some children learn and many learn to hate reading." 
  • You’ll be better equipped to convince your parents to join your crusade to teach kids how to LOVE reading as we lucky people do!
  • CRA member Shannon Spencer, and winner of our book drawing, blogged, “I LOVED Donalyn’s Reading in the Wild book and have transformed my classroom because of it!”
  • You’ll bask as you validate what you’re already doing, yet further transform your classroom- Please join us!
  • Blog and be inspired to make reading fun again (and still have 85% of your kids in the 90th percentile)!
We will be talking about a chapter each month until the end of August. 
  •  In her intro., Donalyn explains her “whispers” as activities to promote talk about reading between her and her students.  Ah ha, wondered how she came up with her title!  What grabbed you in the intro.?
  •  In this month’s chapter, “There and Back Again,” Donalyn reminisces about childhood memories of reading.  My Mom told me I used to read to my sister with the book upside down.  Ha! What’s your fondest memory of early reading experiences?  Would love to hear them!
  •  Donalyn shared her early teaching disasters and how she arrived at a reading workshop format.  It made me feel like I was chatting with an old friend reading her words. How are you liking the book so far?
  • Loved her section “Going Forward, Sort Of.”  So true, eh?   Do you share her experiences and/or her epiphany that “as long as I hold on to my love of books & show my students what it means to live as a reader, I’ll be closer to teaching paradise?” 
  • Don't forge to click publish below your typed comment.    
Thanks for joining us,
      Lynn Gurnee,  Past CRA President

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Win a copy of The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller

Happy New Year!

Just got my copy of The Book Whisperer:  Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller.  It's fabulous!!  There's a FREE copy for one lucky CRA blogger.  Hopefully, you'll join us for The Book Whisperer book club blog starting February 1!  And Donalyn will be a keynote speaker at the CRA PDI on Nov. 4-5 in Visalia!

Send a blog that you're interested in being in the drawing for this book by February 1.  On February 2, the book will be mailed to a lucky winner!  If you have trouble sending a blog, see below.  If you read it, tried it, and are still having trouble, give me a call.  I'll be happy to help you!  

It's going to be a fun online book club this year!  Donalyn currently teaches so it's no surprise Allington writes,  "Miller's book is powerful and practical…helping you to understand how to overcome current classroom culture where some children learn and many learn to hate reading." But wait!  That's not all.

You can EASILY earn one semester unit to advance you on your salary scale for ONLY $60.  Email you're interested and you'll get the paperwork ASAP.  You only need to do 3 blogs re: The Book Whisperer!  And you may do your 3 blogs for college credit anytime night or day from February 1 through August  31!!

Happy Reading and Blogging!
Lynn Gurnee, 
Past CRA President
Professional Development Institute , November 4-5, 2016 
Visalia Convention Center
Keynote Speakers: Donalyn Miller and Regie Routman
Visit us on Facebook & Pinterest or  

Blogging’s fun & easy!  Join us!
•  Click on a blog/ post you want to view. Scroll down to see them all.
•  Under a post/blog are Comments/ No Comments (if no one posted).
•  Under Post a Comment is a box with "Enter your comment…"
•  Click inside the box and type your comments.

•  Hit publish.  That's it!  Why wait?  Let us hear from you!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Lucy Calkins’ Writing Pathways: Performance Assessments and Learning Progressions, Gr. K-8

Opinion/Argument Writing: 
  • Loved the Learning progressions for grades PreK - 9th grade
  • Prompts, rubrics, checklists, samples and annotated demo. texts are well done & so helpful
  • Love how the book has indexes that fold out for easy use! Set up very nicely!

Information Writing: Same as above and leveled student writing samples are priceless!

Narrative Writing: Same as above and the high quality of texts is greatly appreciated! Hope you enjoyed this book as much as Terri Ohler, Lori Bivins and I did as we blogged together.

Lucy Calkins comes to CRA’s PDI on Riverside on Oct. 23-24. Hope to see you there!

Why wait?  Start blogging today! Let us hear from you…any books you'd like us to consider for our next online book club?

Lynn Gurnee, CRA Past President

(Having trouble blogging? Need more info. for college credit? Email

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lucy Calkins’ Writing Pathways: Performance Assessments & Learning Progressions, K-8

Part 1 Chapters 7-9 Highlights

Ch. 7 Teaching Informed by the Learning Progressions
  •  Catching teachable movements or the best way to move a young writer forward is not easy but Lucy’s 7 learning progressions really do help
  • Using the writing genre checklists while conferring is a powerful tool
  • Lucy’s “Principles of Conferring” on p. 82 and the chart to “Pump up Writing” on p.84 are dynamite
  • Finally, the “Making Small Groups Effective” teacher chart on p. 86 and the “How to” student chart on p. 87- priceless!
Ch. 8  Supporting Transference across the Content Areas
  • Using Reading-Writing Checklists & making connections to build close reading skills was a favorite on p. 94-95

Ch. 9  Designing Reading-Writing Performance Assessments
  • What sparked your interest?  

Blogging’s fun & easy!  Join us!
•  Click on a blog/ post you want to view. Scroll down to see them all.
•  Under a post/blog are Comments/ No Comments (if no one posted).
•  Under Post a Comment is a box with "Enter your comment…"
•  Click inside the box and type your comments.

•  Hit publish. That's it! Why wait?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Lucy Calkins’ Writing Pathways: Performance Assessments & Learning Progressions, K-8

Part 1 Chapters 4-6: Highlights that jumped out at me… 

What sparked your interest?  Blogging’s fun & easy!  Join us!
•  Click on a blog/ post you want to view. Scroll down to see them all.
•  Under a post/blog are Comments/ No Comments (if no one posted).
•  Under Post a Comment is a box with "Enter your comment…"
•  Click inside the box and type your comments.
•  Hit publish. That's it! Why wait?

Chapter 4 Using Early Results to Plan and Adapt Your Writing Curriculum
  •             Wow!  Doesn’t that title grab your interest?  Powerful stuff!
  •     Yes, levels early in the year may be disappointing.  Recalling the 1st day of school, "kinders" told me they’d like to learn how to tie shoes or button pants.  It was so disappointing that they didn’t instead  say, “I want to learn how to read and write!”
  •      Lucy’s basic levels of differentiation through coaching in mini lessons, conferring and small group instruction is doable and makes success reachable!  Wish this book was on my shelf "back in the day!"

Chapter 5 Self Assessment Checklists: The What, the Why, and the How
  •            Loved Lucy’s findings that checklists are more kid friendly than rubrics
  •      Also loved Lucy’s modeling on how to introduce, adapt when needed, and use the checklists

Chapter 6 Tracking Data: On-the-Run and Formally
  • Having students invent a record keeping system along with you is invaluable!
  • What did you take away? Can’t wait to hear from you!

CRA Past President Lynn Gurnee