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Next week I start the venture of a lifetime–thirteen weeks of student teaching in 7th and 8th grade Reading & Language Arts classes, and then hopefully onto a teaching career.

Can I admit to you that through my first Bachelors degree AND some grad school that I never wanted to be a teacher? Can I also admit that for the last two and a half years of studying for my licensure that I also really didn’t want to be a teacher?
Only now that it’s “real,” that I’m actually walking into a classroom to teach that I beleive, maybe I can/should do this after all.

Part of my thoughts come from some recent pedagogy (teaching theory) I’ve jumped into and realizing that I am not alone in my passions. Also, even though there’s this whole new wave of standards and testing in the classroom (that I will freely admit I am not a fan of) I believe there are still ways to implement reading in the classroom–and get kids to enjoy it.

With this profession, I should privatize my life and quit social media/blogging altogether, but I’m pretty safe around here in that I don’t divulge too much–and I just want to talk books up so my future students can have a plethora of recommendations! Plus, there are a few teacher-y blogs that I read and love!  So, for that reason, I’m keeping the blog going (though after next week it might be slower around here) and even created a new twitter persona strictly for reading and classroom stuff. After all, if I am to implement technology in the classroom, then I want my students to know I use it. It’s just how we use it that matters.

Welcome to one of my fresh ideas–and a place where I’m hopefully going to share some of my classroom experience. No names, no tiny details about students, nothing like that–this feature is simply how I’m integrating books into the classroom, getting students to read, setting up my own teaching philosophy, partaking in what I call Rebel Reading, and perhaps conducting my own research.
This feature might not be for all you readers, and it won’t be an every week thing–but if you are an educator/know an educator, feel free to share input anytime!

Between the end of last semester and beginning of my internship, I’ve been reading heavily. Of course that means fiction books, but I’ve also been into some theory of teaching books just to help me prep. One of my professors recommended a few reads to me before break, and surprisingly, they were already on my list!
If you’re an English Language Arts Teacher, I’m sure you’ve heard of Donalyn Miller, aka The Book Whisper. If you haven’t, you need too. I’ve sort of figured out she’s my guru for teaching.
I say that because here I thought I was the only one in the world (silly me) who simply wanted to let students read through class. Miller has revolutionized her classroom approach, and I’m really taking her theories to heart as I enter the classroom.

In 2009, she wrote The Book Whisper based off of her blog of the same name. For years she wrote a blog for Teacher Magazine.org, and then compiled her theories into this book.

Miller is a 6th grade ELA/Social Studies teacher in Texas, and this book reveals her unusual instructional approach to a language arts/reading classroom. She requires her students to read 40 books a year, spanning different genres. And–she rejects book reports, conventional worksheets, and other types of instruction that standard classrooms usually implement.

That’s the kind of teacher I want to be. If you asked me why I chose teaching–two years ago I would have said because I needed a job. My liberal English degree wasn’t providing anything around the area I’m in, so I decided to give myself some more options. Initially, I chose teaching because I love reading and thought I’d become a school librarian. The thought is still there, but right now I’m excited about teaching because I simply want to share books with my students and get them to love reading.

I want to teach about the power of books–and the way I know how to do that is through reading. In fact, recent studies are showing how students improve their reading skills and comprehension by simply reading. So, even though my future students may have to complete standardized tests–I want to prep them not through worksheets or hour long grammar lessons, but through actually reading and writing. Henceforth, the rebel aspect. Reading is a rebellious act these days seeing as how our time can be so easily filled with technology. But also in the world of education where we must teach our students to the test, I feel that actual reading has been thrown to the wayside. In fact, I honestly feels it’s more important to let students read than to teach all class period. (Gasp! Shock & Awe!)

I’m not saying I’m just going to go into the classroom, have my students pick up a book, and read. My hope is to implement a workshop approach to my classrooms which I’ll explain next time around. (Basically it involves splitting up class time between reading, mini-lessons, and then responding to reading. The same approach can happen in the writing classroom, and I hope it will in mine.)

For now, I simply want to recommend Miller’s The Book Whisperer for any and every reading teacher or future reading teacher. The book itself is chalk full of resources not only to study as a teacher, but for implementing in the classroom. She includes an Ultimate Library List of MG/YA books to include in the classroom (separated by genre), how to care and feed a classroom library, and a few student forms to gauge student interests and check up on end-of-the-year-reading.

I was so excited to realize that I’ve read many of the books she has recommended, as well as finding new recommendations! Not only that, but I filled my copy with stars, underlines, and post-it note tabs for future use. As I prep my own units for this semester, my hope is to integrate free reading time everyday as class starts–small steps in revealing the power of story to my students and charging forward as a rebel reader.

Teacher talk: Have you read Miller’s book? What do you like about her classroom approach? Would 40 books a year of required reading surprise your students, excite them, or make them groan in worry?