Whispering and conferring

Conversation at 3:00pm in the library today:

Teacher: I had an awesome day today! Let me tell you- I just talked with my kids.

Me: Tell me what you learned.

Teacher:  Student was sharing that she didn't have any books on her challenge list yet because she's always reading long books.  I asked her to read to me for a while- she did, and we noticed she was replacing words like back for black, etc. She decided she wanted to set a goal for herself to work on accuracy. We looked at some of the strategies for accuracy, and among them was reading EASY books. The student shared she didn't read easy books because they were below her level, but now she would: they would help her accuracy- and help her get some books on her list!

Teacher: So then, I talked with another student who really wanted to learn more about her African-American heritage. I pointed her to What Was the March on Washington? And she was excited.

Me: Oh! I have lots of books that would be good fits for her- giving her the history she wants, but in a manner that she'd understand them. (I worked with this student last year, and she loved the I Survived series- so we'll tag team her!)

We discussed more of her students- how one hated biographies, but loved art. Teacher's solution? A book about daVinci- the student recognized The Mona Lisa,  and was interested in the book. You guessed it- a Biography about an artist.

Then, a student new to our school shared that she knew she didn't read on grade level- but wanted to. She really was interested in science and social studies. Teacher's solution: digital books that read aloud to the student! Student was happily reading a graphic novel about ecosystems and taking notes.

We talked a while longer- and it was fun and exciting.  I asked her if she realized what she was doing~ did she realize she was Book Whispering? You see, this teacher is a fifth grade teacher- who read The Book Whisperer and dove into the challenge- feeling overwhelmed at first at the thought of conferencing- reading journals, and helping kids find their passion. As we talked, she said "I guess it's not that hard. It's about the relationship. It's about just talking with your kids and learning who they are.  And today, I had so much fun! I can't wait for tomorrow."

Lessons learned: levels are frameworks not rules. Easy books have a purpose and function. Kids can set reasonable goals when asked to reflect! Kids know their likes and dislikes- what they want to learn and where their interests lie. They just need help finding the fits. They need people to care and listen, and to whisper titles into their ears.

Next week: we'll do a joint whispering/conferring session in the media center. I can't wait!


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