Disrupting Thinking - Why How We Read Matters Part 1

I get easily overexcited by anything that will help me improve my skills related to my career as an elementary educator. Be it a Pinterest post of flexible seating, an Instagram share of new Papermate pens (seriously, have you seen these handwriting ones for kids?) or a professional read that helps me shift my thinking and makes me question how I see myself as an educator, it's just part of how I operate. Over-excitability towards my life and teaching career is my jam, and I'm proud of it. 

With a little more time to focus on what matters over these short summer months, there also comes the time to get re-inspired for a new school year where we will have the awesome opportunity to reach new students and affect their lives for the better- socially, emotionally, intellectually. We have the opportunity to help them make sense of the world one bit at a time. One moment, one lesson, one day, one year while in our care. One of my favorite areas of teaching is through the discussion of literature. The realization that understanding books can help us understand of our world- characters, intentions, conflict, perseverance... and within each of these books more importantly - to understand the impact of words. As J.K. Rowling stated, "Words are, in my humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Both capable of inflicting injury and remedying it.

Connecting quality text to students' lives has long lived in the philosophies of Great Books' Shared Inquiry, Paideia, and Socratic Seminars. To ask a group of fifth graders if they would choose to live forever after discussing the positive and negative impact of the experience of the Tuck Family in Tuck Everlasting is to open a beautiful can of thoughts from developing young minds. 

To continue this area I find so beneficial in our teaching of children, this summer my goal was to read Disrupting Thinking- Why How We Read Matters (Beers & Probst) to enhance my skills regarding reading instruction. The book is a very simple read broken into three parts, 174 pages total. Below are my notes for Part 1; I hope you can find them and our other English Language Arts resources helpful as you become re-inspired with a little change in thinking and teaching before you return to the students in the Fall.

Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters
By Kylene Beers, Robert E. Probst

Big Idea: A reader comes to a text with a determination to learn, and a desire for the change (slight or dramatic) that the learning will bring, allowing her thinking to be disrupted, altered, or changed. 

Part 1 Readers:

+ Students hate reading because:

  • The stories are dumb
  • It's just about reading and answering questions
  • "We have to do all these stupid Venn diagrams with it." 

+ The goal is to teach students to read with curiosity:

  • Does this reading change who you are? 
  • What does this text say to me?
  • How might it change what I do or how I act in the world? 

It is only when linking text to a student's personal experience that it will begin to matter. When it matters, it will develop their intellectual, social, emotional, and physical worlds. 

+ Students MUST talk in the classroom about text. A reader is only responsive when she is able to leave her isolated mind and discuss how other's witnessed or reacted to the character's needs in the story. 

Encourage responsibility with text by having students ask themselves:

  • What surprised me? (new info, suspicious info, clarifying info, different perspective) 
  • What did the author think I already know? (vocabulary, visualizing, prior knowledge, sequence, cause/effect) 
  • What changed, challenged, or confirmed my thinking?

+ Teach students to value change that results from a richer understanding and sharper perspective. 

+ Compassion is a necessary characteristic of readers. Entering in this dialogue with text allows students to better enter into these conversations in the real world with those who have a different perspective. To enter into conversations with more civility, more generosity, and more kindness toward one another.

"As we learn to read our books, we might better learn to read the world." (p. 46)

Parts II and III notes to follow... I'd love to hear your thoughts below! Have a great day everyone.