Welcome! I hope you are interested in setting up or sustaining a proficient-reader classroom. I had you in mind when I built this site. If you are here because you enjoyed my professional-development sessions, thank you! This site is designed to support you, as well.
You will find tips along with lesson plans in an easy –to-download PDF format. I created the ideas from playing around with the proficient reader research outlined in Mosaic of Thought: Comprehension in a Reader's Workshop, now over ten years old and in its 2nd edition.
When the first edition came out in 1997, the book completely changed how I taught reading comprehension. Up until that point, I assigned reading. I admit it. I did. I thought my job was to teach children by quizzing them about books.
Enter Ellin Keene and Susan Zimmermann in 1997 with Mosaic of Thought. The authors begin each chapter with a challenging adult text for me to read. As a result, they authors led me to analyze the way I make sense of reading difficult passages. They showed me what I do to unlock meaning by putting me in the role of reader. I clearly got it!
Modeling thinking is teaching reading
The students watch how I solve my reading problems, they give it a try, and then we talk about how they worked through their challenges. I show them strategies to try and they experiment. They read more than they write in reading time. In fact, they read more than ever and they use their work time to prepare for discussions.
Depending on the content, the thinking strategies can be applied to any subject. I model how to pay attention to details about characters, settings, literary elements, and themes. But in math, I show students how to find the problem, the question, the connections that will help me solve the problem, the diagrams and data, and to assess whether my answer makes sense.
Ready for change
I came to the reading of Mosaic of Thought late in my career. Every year I had children who could read every word but not understand what they read. When they read, they looked to me for approval. Children jumped into help, but incorrectly. Children made wild predictions, not based on evidence (and sometimes, not in reality). Some of my more gifted students read only for plot and could have cared less about themes and other literary elements. Many had been left unchallenged, having only read grade-level materials.
Instead, I wanted to:
- Model how I read
- Think along with students as they read
- Gradually release responsibility to them so they could read independently
- Put the work of figuring out understanding on my students
- Get rid of activities that kept children busy but not learning to read
- Discuss more and question less
- Assess each child so I could truly differentiate
- Make sure each child could use each strategy
As a result, I was ready for change. I read everything I could get my hands on to help me design lessons: Strategies That Work (Harvey & Goudvis), Reading With Meaning (Debbie Miller), I Read It But I Don't Get It (Cris Tovani) and Nonfiction Matters (Harvey). I traveled to conferences and took sessions with Stephanie Harvey, Ellin Keene, Debbie Miller, Cris Tovani, Janet Allen and Harvey Daniels. Let’s face it, before these writers so willingly shared, there was very little help out there. Thank you to these pioneers!
Luckily, now there are many books and articles to guide us. I’ve listed my favorites on my Bibliography page. I love to read those books and hopefully, that is how I can help you. I will take the theory and translate it into lessons so that you can envision the possibilities! I will start by modeling and then gradually release the responsibility to you.
Not so long ago, the publication Education Leadership reported that college professors ask students to solve problems with no answers or complex answers. Unfortunately, the young adults didn't know how. Some felt that alternative ideas were an insult to their own ideas. Some didn't know how to have conversations.
Basically, our students are still not prepared despite the programs we've had in place. Clearly, we still have more work to do. At the very least, when children leave our care, they should "Like To Read," and they will if they understand what they're reading. I believe my site will help.