Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wild Readers Have Reading Plans (the comeback post)

We are continuing our #D100bloggerPD book study on Donalyn Miller's book Reading in the Wild. If this is your first stop in the book study, be sure to check out Kristin Richey's blog Reading and Owl of the Above to read all the previous posts. 

Last January I wanted to become a more habitual writer, so I bought a blog template in hopes of chronicling my journey as a literacy coach. What I failed to do was make a plan or set goals for myself in order to make writing a habit. I didn't preplan to write. Heck, I didn't put any plan in place at all. So here I am, two months shy of a year, finally sitting down to write again. 

So let's talk about how planning/goal setting can turn intentions into habits...

In Chapter 5: Wild Readers Have Reading Plans, Donalyn Miller discusses the importance of making short-term and long-term reading plans in order to sustain and expand a ongoing reading life (or writing life in my case). Not only should a "wild reader" set personal goals, but also identify areas that one would like to improve in or enrich. The key to success is reflection- reflect on plans made and reflect on what worked and what didn't. 

We're familiar with the idea of setting long-term and short-term reading goals, but what can we do to ensure that are students keep their commitment to reading?? Miller offers two types of plans to help students maintain solid reading behaviors. 

Commitment Plans vs. Challenge Plans

Commitment plans help build a strong foundation for reading HABITS. Students need to be personally committed to daily reading. Without the intrinsic motivating forces, the drive is eventually going to stop. How do we get students to make reading part of their daily life and have success with their reading plan?

  • Find Reading Time Every Day - help students find time within their schedule to commit to reading 
  • Increasing Book Completion - set small, attainable goals with students allows them to be successful quickly...this will help them make positive associations with reading, which motivates them to want to read more!
  • Identify Specific Titles, Authors, Genres, and Series - tune in to student interests and guided them to authors or series that they might not have heard of or would ever have considered reading
Challenge Plans allow students to set AMBITIOUS GOALS for themselves to fill gaps in their reading life. The challenge is not meant to ignite competition between readers or groups of readers, but rather allows readers opportunities to push themselves to go outside of their genre comfort zone or try amp up their volume of reading. Some examples of challenge plans include the Book-A-Day Challenge (read one book for every day of your summer vacation) and Book Gap Challenge (stretch your reading preference to include series or award winners that you wouldn't normally tackle). 

Rarely do we ever pick up a book cold turkey and expect ourselves to devour it so why would be expect anything different from our kids? In order to cultivate voracious readers in our classrooms, we need start or continue to give our readers opportunities to hear book recommendations from other classmates or adults. Our Vice Principal, a voracious reader herself, will often go into classroom to give book talks to students. By just designating a few minutes a day or week for book talks, you can feed students motivation to read with a few book suggestions. Encourage students to keep lists of books they would like to read, hold a book swap, or host a library card sign-up event. 

As a former classroom teacher and reading specialist, I understand the fine line we walk to keep kids accountable for their reading while allowing them the freedom of choice. There's the constant struggle to get kids to stick with a book long enough to finish it. In order to get kids to be the type of readers we hope - the Wild Readers-  we need to reflect on our teaching. Are we giving our readers the opportunity to plan and set their own goals? The key to success may just lie in handing the ownership back to the kids. Allow time for them to set personal goals and to reflect on what went well and what didn't go so well.  Our innate desire for accountability can be holding students to their personal goals when we confer. This calls for organization and constantly updating your conferring calendar. By giving the students the responsibility to determine their own reading goals and plans, reading can become personal. 

Now back to my own plan. 

To stay in touch with the blog book study, be sure to follow #D100bloggerPD on Twitter and check out The Bazz Blog, my fabulous Assistant Principal at Pershing, on Monday 12/7 for the next post!


  1. Meg,
    Welcome back and I am glad you continue to challenge yourself! Commitment to becoming lifelong readers means building lifelong habits that allow for challenge and growth. Thoughtful reflection.

  2. This is a great post Meg! I think that reflecting on ourselves as learners makes us all better teachers.

  3. Hmmmm.... I think I need to set come commitment plans and challenge plans for myself. Thanks, Meg, for everything you do for me!

  4. I was talking to our 5th graders about having Reading Plans just before Thanksgiving Break! My reading plan makes me depressed sometimes bc I wonder if I will ever get to everything on my list! Then at the same time it makes me happy bc once I finish a book, I know I get to read through my list and find another that I am in the mood for! I make plans with my son each night about what we are going to read the following night! That is my favorite reading plan of all... great post Meg!

  5. Meg,
    I, too, have attempted to start a blog. I am inspired to reflect and share my teaching when I see blog like The Wild Readers book study blog. BUT, I didn't have a plan. I just started it and expected myself to post, but ever did. My plan will be to post once a month about what I am doing as a Reading Coach or what I am doing with students. Hopefully 2016 an be more reflective. Thanks for sharing.