I’ve always done a minilesson early in the fall where I talk to my students about myself as a reader and writer. I’ve done this lesson for more than 10 years, and it is always a lesson that starts a yearlong conversation. Talking about my own reading seems to jump-start my students into talking honestly about theirs.
In the past, I’ve carried in a stack of books, shared my writer’s notebook, and talked about where and when I read. Over the years, I’ve added a Kindle to the mix of what I share and have talked a bit about my blog. But this summer I’ve taken the time to really reflect on how much my reading and writing life have changed since I began this tradition. I want to be more intentional about my minilesson this year. Instead of grabbing whatever comes to mind, I began planning for this minilesson by creating a list to help me think about the changes in my reading and writing life since I began the tradition of this lesson. As I listed things about my reading and writing life, I realized it had been a long time since I had done this kind of reflection. Being aware of the changes in my reading life will be important for this lesson and throughout the year. This is what I discovered:
As a reader and writer, I used to
- keep a book in my car.
- get book recommendations from friends and local bookstores.
- be part of a book group that met monthly.
- log my reading in a notebook .
- take notes on my reading in a notebook or with stickies.
- carry around a notebook.
- carry a small notebook in my purse.
- share my writing in person or send printed writing for others to read.
- go through a publisher to share my writing.
Now as a reader
- I keep track of books I want to read on Goodreads or on a notes app on my phone.
- I get book recommendations from friends and local bookstores.
- I follow friends on Goodreads and Twitter to learn about books I might enjoy.
- I am part of several book groups on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
- I search for and watch book trailers and read reviews online before deciding to read a book.
- I share my reading through blogging, Twitter, and Goodreads.
- I order sample chapters of ebooks to preview on my Kindle.
- I bookmark things online.
- I save videos, presentations, and podcasts that I want to revisit.
- I read the Nerdy Book Club blog each day.
- I read the news and the weather each morning on my phone.
Now as a writer
- I blog regularly at A Year of Reading.
- I go through a publisher to share my writing
- I write articles for Choice Literacy.
- I jot ideas on an app on my iPhone.
- I comment on blogs in response to posts.
- I tweet articles, comments, and ideas daily.
- I collect photos for presentations and writing.
- I often play with a new tool when I see a product in which someone has used that tool.
- I revise and edit with online tools.
- I compose collaboratively using Google Docs and Google Presentations.
- I share writing online for immediate feedback.
- I read other bloggers’ writing daily and often try things I’ve seen or hop on a meme.
Creating this list helped me to see things I may not have noticed had I not created a list. My reading has changed more than I thought. The ways that the inclusion of digital tools has changed my habits and routines is fascinating. My focus when sharing used to be mostly about my tastes as a reader. I wanted my students to see what I liked to read, what was hard for me, which authors I enjoyed, etc. But now, I realize that this is no longer about one minilesson on tastes. My whole identity as a reader is different, and I need to think differently about how I introduce that to students. Instead it will be a series of minilessons about the many choices we make as readers. I will use my reflection to start many of the conversations that I want to build on across the year. This will no longer be one minilesson, but it will be a list I carry in the back of my mind as I share my own reading in minilessons throughout the year.
Formal reflection helped me realize that carrying in a stack of books and a notebook is not enough to capture who I am as a reader and writer anymore. The stack of books will be only one piece of that conversation. This fall, I’ll also make time to share the many other things that make me the reader and writer that I am today. I’ll talk about the habits I have, the choices I make, and the ways I have changed as a reader. I think these conversations will be more authentic and will invite more rich conversations as children begin to define themselves as readers.