Monday, January 9, 2012

Thinking About Our Reading Goals

Last week, my 4th graders and I spent some time thinking about our reading goals for 2012.  We began by jotting some thinking in our reader's notebooks around the guiding questions, "What can I do differently as a reader?  What can I do to get better?"
     We wrote... shared our thinking with one another... talked as a group... and then thought of a one word synthesis that best captured our hopes as readers.  We had some grand conversations about the thinking that might guide our reading lives for the the next few weeks.  
     I had my students jot down their thinking, using their one-word as a heading.  They wrote a synopsis of their reading wishes for the coming weeks.  What an important way to gather thinking from my students in an authentic purposeful way.  Here are a few of their ideas:

  • "Expand"  Thinking about expanding helps as a reader because it lets your thinking flow more easily onto paper as if you were pouring water.  Expanding means to try new things and to do different things... that connects to choice because sometimes you need to try or change new genres. (Brooklyn)
  • "Footage"  Footage is like a giant web because it connects to a lot of circles.  If I want to picture (or create footage), I might want to read a more descriptive book.  I want to think about words when I choose books.  If I can find the right book, my footage becomes more clear in my mind. (Nolan)
  • "Simplify"  I want to somehow simplify my reading life because I think I'm taking too much of a challenge for myself as a reader.  I can't just read a big fat book to get better, I have to understand to get better.  I want to work up to where I can read thick books, so I just need to start out with a simple book. (Josh)     
  • "Journey and Discover"  Thinking about journey gives me a picture in my mind of a metaphor of walking into a forest and discovering new thinking for the book.  I chose these words because I hope they will help me become a better reader than I am now. (Molly) 
  • "Thinking"  Thinking about my thinking and the responsibilities that come with reading is one of my goals as a reader.  If I want to truly think about my book I also need to think about the choices I am making as a reader.  I need to write more.  I need to continue writing responses, but in higher levels.  My thoughts and understanding can strengthen, but only if I make the proper choices. (Lauren)
  • "Sophistication"  This is something that I need to watch myself on with the complexity of my text.  I need to use my sense for it more often, to do so I must think carefully about not just the text sophistication, but my thinking sophistication.  I will use this by not just grabbing some random book and start reading the words with no intention of thinking about "What in the world did I just read?" and actually going back to reread it. I must look through a wide variety and see what the book is about and carefully choose the one that fits best; like a puzzle.  Then I must slowly read it and take the time to slow down. (Libby)
  • "Locked In"  My new reading goal as a reader this year is to get locked into richer and better texts.  Because, some of the books I was reading last year were like gloop (too easy).  I want to get "locked in" as a reader and finish more books.  I want to get "locked in" to new strategies.  (Jack)
     Nell Duke once said, "I don't think there's any goal we have for students that's greater than the goal of having them be able to make meaning from, and critically evaluate, the text that they're going to experience and encounter throughout their lives."  My two word synthesis was "Choice and Voice" because those are the two things I want my students to discover for the remainder of the year.  And, like Nell, I want my students to critically evaluate who they are becoming as readers... so that they can grow and continue thriving long after they walk out the door of our classroom in June. in Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop, I included a quote that we have hanging in our classroom, "Where choice lives, learning prospers!"  It's so true...
     Here's to a prosperous, reading-filled 2012!  Cheers!


  1. Your students always have such eloquent things to say when they reflect about their reading lives. Thanks for sharing their latest thinking.

  2. I like how you customized "One Little Word" for your writing goals!

  3. I love how you got your students thinking so deeply!

  4. Wow really like the idea of having students create one word goals then explain-loved reading these-you can tell that thinking is valued in your classroom

  5. Thought provoking read! Exactly where we need to take our students.

  6. I've been reading your blog for a while, but have never responded, & now I'm sorry. This is such an important thing, to give students choice. It's the backbone of what my school does in the curriculum. I teach in an independent school in Denver, The Logan School for Creative Learning, and I'm telling you this Patrick because I just spoke with you this morning at Julie Welch's salon. She told me you were a long time friend, as am I. I wish I had known it was you. Anyway, glad to connect on some level. Good luck this year with your students and their reading goals. I am impressed with their expanded explanations of how their words are helping them to think more clearly about what they want in reading. This also must have come from the background conversations you've been having with them all the year.