Sunday, September 21, 2014

Born to Read: Developing a Reading Mindset #SummerSeries #BookTalkaDay

Today's post is part of the #SundaySeries blogging challenge from Lee Ann Spilane on the Portable Teacher blog.

We're developing a reading mindset in my classroom this year because students are born to read.

Simply watching the curiosity of of young children as they reach for books and crayons supports the idea that children are natural learners. Give a two-year-old a piece of paper and a crayon and watch her write. 

A child's attempts to form words and sounds, which they do through repetition of those language speakers in their lives, demonstrates a child's intuit love of language. 

Children love words. 

Yet by the time many students reach my classroom, they no longer love language. Many are self-described "reluctant readers" who claim they "hate reading." 

We can change this fixed mindset among our students. We can create in them a growth mindset. We can help students develop a reading mindset. 

Here's how seniors in my classroom are developing a reading mindset this year:

Each day I begin class with fifteen minutes of independent reading followed by students composing a one-sentence essay that student volunteers share. Sharing provides students an opportunity to talk about their reading and their peers a chance to add a book to their TBR (to be read) list. Afterwards, I present a book talk and sometimes share both a passage from the book and a snippet from a review if I've written one. 

The struggle students meet in developing a reading mindset is something we should embrace rather than approach with defeat. A recent article in Edutopia  suggests that we all need to embrace where we are in the learning process while simultaneously believing we can get better. At school teachers must embrace this idea and lead the way in our classrooms.

Clearly, if we don't believe that not only is it within our nature to improve, but also within our control, we will become paralyzed. We have to realize as well that growth, change, and progress all take patience and hard work. We can add the idea of resiliency into this mix, because struggle and outright failure are integral parts of these processes.

We each know that students often don't see themselves as learners or as readers. 

At back-to-school night this past Wednesday, one mother expressed more concern about students' homework to read fifteen minutes a day and how that mandate will interfere with her son's work schedule than with celebrating her child reading and liking the book he has chosen to read. Is it any wonder that such a child doesn't have a reading mindset?

"Why Some Kids Try Harder and Some Kids Give Up" in the Huff Post describes two categories of learners Carol Dweck has identified: 

  • Those with a fixed mindset, who believe their successes are a result of their innate talent or smarts
  • Those with a growth mindset, who believe their successes are a result of their hard work
Students with a fixed mindset see intelligence as something one possesses rather than something one acquires. This paradigm says learning should come easily and without challenge. 

Conversely, a growth mindset is grounded in the belief that challenge and academic success go hand-in-hand. The more we challenge ourselves, the smarter we become. 

And so it is with readers in our classroom. The more we challenge them to read, and the more they challenge themselves to read, the more they will develop a reading mindset. As this short video shows, our minds are like muscles that can change. Let's embrace the struggle to grow readers in our rooms as our students stretch their reading mindset.

Book Talks this week #BookTalkaDay:

Ask the Passengers by A. S. King
Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarity
Funny in Farsi by Firooeh Dumas