I know that I probably won't be able to read all of these this summer but I am going to try. A few of the books in this stack are beloved books that I have already read a couple of times but must remain in the stack because I find myself rereading them frequently. They are Catching Readers Before They Fall by Pat Johnson and Katie Keier and Choice Words by Peter Johnston. I can't seem to get my fill of those two books.
Recently, I just finished More Than Guided Reading by Cathy Mere.
I don't intend to use this blog for writing books reviews (at least not right now) but I would like to use it to help me keep track of the things that I learn and want to remember from the books I am reading.
With that in mind, here are a few things that really resonated with me in Cathy Mere's book.
- I loved the term "focus lesson" much better than the terms I have used in the past. "Mini-lesson", for example, seems to downplay the significance of the lesson and "whole-group lesson" just doesn't seem descriptive enough. Focus lesson is a much more specific and powerful phrase.
- I also like when Cathy says that students "needed to understand that many stories involve a problem, a place where the story begins to change." My first graders worked a lot with making sure that their fiction stories had a problem for their character to solve but I think adding the last part of Cathy's idea - "a place where the story begins to change" will help them think more deeply about setting up the problem in the beginning and then allowing the story to change as the problem is encountered. I can't wait to try to use this subtle shift in thinking with my students this year.
- Finally, I love Cathy's analogy at the beginning of the last chapter. She says, "I looked at reading instruction as a firefighter, running here and there putting out fires; everything was a near emergency that needed my immediate attention" and over time her thinking changed to think of herself "as more of a sculptor gradually shaping a new work." I have felt the same firefighter intensity in my teaching. I don't think I want to lose my intensity but just shift my focus to notice the growth that is occurring rather than only focusing on the most immediate reading emergency. I need to remember one last thought from Cathy, "In fact, more often than not, reading is anything but a problem."