This year we will be implementing something new in Language Arts: Book Whispering. A book is the best teacher anyone can have; books allow the reader to travel the world from the safety of a good reading niche, navigate tough scenarios without having to face the consequences of a wrong decision, and meet interesting people one might never have met in ordinary circumstances. Books are wonderful, and they are important, but in the world of iPhones, Xbox's, and MP3's, books are being set aside for other activities. I myself am an avid reader of whatever I can get my hands on--Young Adult, Classic Literature, magazines, cereal boxes--and I know many of your students feel the same way towards reading. We hope that Book Whispering will help students appreciate reading and writing in a whole new way.
Students are expected to participate in the Accelerated Reading program at Denison Middle School; this program works hand-in-hand with Book Whispering. The Accelerated Reading program allows students to choose a book of their interest and reading level, read it in their own time and during AR Reading time (PAWS) in class, take a quiz on the material, and earn points. Students will continue to participate in the Accelerated Reading program with a few new standards to the system.
- Students will be expected to read 35 books this school year.
This seems like an astounding number at first glance, but past years' data shows the average Lynx Team student reads 30 books in a school year for Accelerated Reader; I am encouraging 35 with a broad range of topics.
- Students will be expected to choose any book from the following genres:
5 Traditional literature
5 Realistic fiction
2 Historical Fiction
2 Science Fiction
10 Chapter-book choice
We will go over genre requirements the first week of school to help students determine what types of books fall into what genre categories. The reason the list is broken down in this manner is to encourage students to test new waters; I have students who come to me asking for a book recommendation, yet they have no idea what type story they enjoy reading. This method of book selection will help students find their inner reader, and also help them identify what exactly they enjoy reading.
- Students will keep a reading journal.
Students will be expected to keep a reading journal with them in their binders at all times. They should be writing in it daily. These journals will serve as a conversation about the books they read, Book Whispering, between the students and their teachers. Each teacher on the team will be aware of the journal and its purpose. Students will write questions, interesting things they learned, and general entries about the books they read--journaling. When a student finishes a book, he/she will either write a book review for the class "Book Review Portfolio," or he/she will write a letter to a teacher on the Lynx team or a parent explaining what he/she liked or did not like about the book, and what lessons were taken from the story. Teachers will write back to students in these journals, and parents are encouraged to do the same; this allows the journal to be a conversation between people rather than a quiz asking generalized questions about the material, hence "Book Whispering". These journals serve a dual purpose: they will serve as progress monitoring for reading comprehension and writing skills, and they will serve to help students organize their thoughts throughout the books they read.
- Students will keep a "shopping list".
Sometimes we hear about a book and we immediately think "I have to remember that book so I can read it." We get to the book store and BAM--can't remember the title or author of the book. This shopping list will help students avoid the dead-pan stare at the bookshelves during library time. At the beginning of the school year, we will take a 'field trip' to the media center to enable students to become comfortable with their best book resource. While visiting, students are encouraged to browse the books and 'shop' for interesting books to read. Students will keep this list throughout the school year and refer to it as a 'shopping list' of books to read. I will be keeping a journal and a shopping list of my own throughout the year.
Book Whispering is a way to encourage students to improve their reading comprehension and writing skills on their own, it helps students keep track of the information they read which will help improve their quiz scores for Accelerated Reader, and it promotes conversations between students, teachers, and parents about books and the lessons we take from those books; it encourages imagination, teamwork, and individual responsibility while enhancing reading and writing skills. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have with Book Whispering; I look forward to whispering about books with you and your students throughout the year