Bringing Things to a Close

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This semester is drawing to an end, and I have to admit I feel like I have gotten more out of this semester than many of the semesters preceding this one. I’ll attribute part of this to many of the authors I have been introduced to this semester by my different professors, and of course to the amazing professors that I’ve had. I’ve read books on reading and writing by Don Murray, Peter Elbow, Nancy Atwell, and of course Penny Kittle. As the semester draws to a close I am grateful that Book Love is one of the books that I had the foresight to buy this semester because I have a feeling I will be wanting it over and over again in the future.

These final two chapters helped fill in a lot of the missing pieces that I had been looking for in the book. How do we as teachers make a way to fill societies need for grades? How can students expand their learning from the books that they are reading? I’ve these questions over and over as a I read, and I feel like I have a better grasp now on some possible answers to these, and several other, questions.

First off, I love the idea of the Big Idea Books. I feel like they work to help students develop a deeper understanding of the books that they read. I had a conversation with one of my professors a while back, and we were discussing how often we just read for surface content, and we don’t look for anything deeper in our books. Having the Big Idea Books helps students to think about themes, ideas, and arguments that are being made by an author. Even acknowledging the theme of a book can be a huge step for a student. I honestly didn’t really learn how to look at this until I was a sophomore in college. No one had really pointed out to me that there is more to books than just a story. Books have meaning, and I think it’s important that students at least look for those meanings. Also, having the book timelines really seems like it would lead to some interesting results.

I think that the quarter students assessments are really great. It is huge to be able to set goals and reflect on them. Having students reflect on their own reading lives gives them time to see how they have improved, and allows you to see what areas they think they are improving. I think it is really important to look at students’ own self-assessment because it allows you to see into their heads a little bit.

Over the years I’ve heard a million arguments against standardized testing, and even pitched a few of my own, but I think Kittle makes one of the best arguments about it that I have heard. She also presented a few thoughts on standardized testing than I had thought about before. Her suggestions on reading assessment actually make a lot of sense.

I’ve gotten so many amazing ideas for my classroom from this book. I’ve learned a lot about student readers, and ways to hopefully create more student readers. I’m glad that I will have this book around for quite awhile because I’m sure that I’ll be looking back at it several times in the future. Another great book to add to one’s teaching bookshelf.

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3 thoughts on “Bringing Things to a Close

  1. What does Kittle’s argument suggest? I’m not going to be a teacher so I haven’t read it, but I’m curious! I guess I’ve really only heard more negatives for standardized testing than positives… or maybe it’s just the way in which we are doing it? You’re students will be so lucky to have a teacher like you! You’re so passionate about what you’re doing and I love that! 🙂

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    • She suggests a conversation based assessment. She thinks it she be more about the student than the result. She also suggests videoing students reading because it gives more accurate assessment of reading skills. Thanks Afton!

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  2. I am curious about Kittle’s opinions regarding standardized testing. I took this course as an elective so I did not have to read all of the chapters of Book Love that I am sure you did.

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