Ever read a trade book that gets you excited to go back to school in the fall? I always try to check out a few “teacher” books over the summer and sometimes I choose good ones and other times not. I actually read 5-6 books this past summer and they were all good, but this one was too good not to share with you.
Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters is written by Kyleen Beers and Robert E. Probst, the authors of Notice and Note. The premise of the book is basically that while we’ve been focusing on close reading, reading for information, reading critically, and analyzing what we read for a few years, we have not been paying as much attention to the affective side of reading.
The idea of killing kids’ desire to read for entertainment and engagement is not new: Kelly Gallagher did a stellar job exploring that sad truth in Readicide and Reading Reasons (both CRUCIAL reads for any teachers concerned with kids’ reading habits and practices, in my opinion). But this book, which just came out in April 2017, asserts that we need to keep the whole package in mind: why kids are asked to read now (is it relevant to them as humans or just important for earning a good grade or measuring their teachers’ and school’s worth?). I like how they
Many of favorite concepts in the book were nothing really new, but ideas that are so worthy of teacher attention, especially how not just to “teach struggling readers, but how to teach readers to struggle.” Reading is not always easy, and it’s not just because of big words and unfamiliar subject matter: Beers and Probst talk about how reading news about horrific events, atrocities, and tragedies can be every bit as hard: just hard in a different way. Readers need to know that it’s okay to doubt what they read, especially in today’s “is it fake news or is it real” climate. Readers need to know what to do when they do doubt, and they need to know that they are the best person to choose what looks interesting and relevant to themselves.
I like the funny “voice” in which the book is written and the blend of research and real classroom stories is perfect.
Even better, they present an easy-to-remember, simple-to-use framework that can be applied at all levels, K-12. Yep, you heard right…I, a high school teacher, am saying this framework can be used with the older kiddos, too.
The Framework: BOOK, HEAD, HEART
I love, love, love the framework they present:
- Book – What does the book say, who is saying it (and why), and how is it said?
- Head – What do I (the reader) already know about this? What do I think about it? What challenged my ideas? What confirmed my ideas?
- Heart – How does this make me feel? What can I learn from this? How can I apply this in my life? What can I take from this text that makes me a better person?
For too long we have left the “heart” out of the teaching of reading. Best practices, which we teachers cling to like life rafts, emphasize having students examine the book and think about it, but at least since the Common Core became ingrained in our schools, kids’ feelings about what they read have pretty much been stamped out. I went to workshops and trainings where I was told too much time was spent in classrooms having kids discuss whether or not they liked a text: we were told to have the kids analyze the AUTHOR’s words and leave their own opinions out of it. I didn’t like hearing that at the time, but I implemented these “best practices” dutifully.
Don’t get me wrong, it IS important to have kids analyze authors’ words and really “get” what a text is saying and what it is not saying and why. However, for too long we’ve left the KIDS out of reading. How will students develop a sense of independence and confidence if their own thoughts about a text are not valued? How will students learn to value and enjoy all of the gifts reading has to offer if they are told what to get out of each text? Simple answer to both questions: they won’t.
Disrupting Thinking tells us to put the heart back into reading in schools, and I’m all for it. I really, really think you (and by “you” I mean everybody: teachers, administrators, and parents alike!) need to read this book.
Read any good trade books recently? Please share! I find those recommended to me by real people are the ones I find most valuable. Doesn’t have to be about reading, either — I love books that just make me excited about teaching in general. They seem to be rare these days, don’t they? :-/