‘Disrupting Thinking’ did just that (and why I want every elementary teacher, middle/high school ELA teacher, librarian, curriculum developer, and administrator to read this book)

Ask yourself these questions about your own reading:

  • Do you like to have someone tell you what to read and when to read it?
  • Do you require yourself to take a quiz at the end of every four chapters?
  • Do you run to Hobby Lobby to create a poster or diorama of a book when you finish it?

Probably Not.

Now, think of your favorite books:

  • Do you remember how you love the ending? How the book changed you or your thinking? How a certain scene made you feel? Certainly.
  • How about the name of the main characters’ boss from page 166?  What about the name of the street where the church was located?  Maybe, maybe not.
  • Here’s a better question: does it even matter? What matters is that you loved that book.

Kyleene Beers and Robert Probst’s book Disrupting Thinking , has an intriguing subtitle, Why How We Read Matters.  I have spent so much time thinking about WHAT my students will read, I have not given enough consideration to the HOW.

Beers and Probst explore issues around the reading classroom breaking the book into three sections:

  • The Readers We Want
  • The Framework We Use
  • The Changes We Must Embrace

These pages apply to elementary – secondary reading instruction.  Even when things seem more geared towards K-8, there were always things that I could find to apply to my high school classroom.

Before this past year, I rarely gave students choice in their reading, and I certainly did not give them time to do it in class.  Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) or Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) were too old-school, too elementary for my high school classroom. And there was no time!

Well, now I see that I do not have time to NOT let my students read in class.  Beers and Probst say, “Giving kids time to read is necessary, not optional” (136).  And they have the classroom experience and the research to prove it.

Research aside, once I implemented 15 minutes of independent reading each day starting in January, the students were devastated when we couldn’t fit it in. This year I will work even more diligently to make this time sacred for my students of all levels.

If you find yourself unsure about any of the following questions, I want you to read this book:

  • Should I teach a whole-class novel? If I do, HOW should I do it?
  • How do I create meaningful classroom discussion?
  • How do I evaluate independent reading without a book report?
  • Is “popcorn reading” effective?
  • What should I do during silent reading time?
  • Isn’t reading for home? Shouldn’t I be leading instruction for the time that I have the students?
  • This might work for my on and above-grade level students, but what about my “other students”?
  • Does the Accelerated Reading program work to encourage and foster lifelong reading habits? (Spoiler alert….NO!)

I want you to read this book not because you will agree with every page and practice, but because it will certainly disrupt your thinking about teaching reading. And that is healthy. That is necessary. You need to read the full text and absorb the colorful infographics to begin to buy into this concept, especially if you are skeptical.  Then I would love to hear what you think.

I have a long way to go in my own classroom to implement what Beers and Probst call “next practices” not just “best practices,” but the first step has to be to disrupt my previous thinking.  This book accomplished just that.

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Travel like an English teacher: London

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