Home » Language Arts » Thoughts on Avoiding Readicide of Whole Class Novels

Thoughts on Avoiding Readicide of Whole Class Novels

At some point, I will formulate this into a coherent format, but these are thoughts running through my head for a future blog post.

How To Avoid Readicide When Teaching Whole-Class Novels

• My teaching changed when I read Readicide by Kelly Gallagher and The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.

• Book Whisperer: (127) “There needs to be a balance between picking a book apart to examine its insides and experiencing the totality of what a book offers.”

• Whole Novels for Whole Class: (20) “Structure a literature program in a way that protects the reader’s experience of the story.”

• Readicide: One of the four causes of Readicide is over teaching a book.

• Readicide: (109) “My students are always reading two books at a time: one that requires the teacher to be in the room, and one that is a high-interest, fun read.”

• Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis: Goal of reading is to construct meaning.

• Penny Kittle: (19) “The study of literature is half the job; leading students to satisfying and challenging reading lives is the other, and we haven’t paid enough attention to it.”

• Penny Kittle: (21) Curriculum is presented as either “a rigorous study of the classics” or “fun reading of what’s easy. . . I am suggesting that teaching English can’t be one or the other; it has to be both.”

• Cris Tovani: Whoever is doing the reading/writing/speaking is doing the learning.

• Me: I believe in teaching the READER, not the READING.

• Me: I use the reading of class novels as a community building and learning experience and not as a means to formally assess and grade students.

• Me: Use a balanced approach. Choice and whole class are important.
My Suggestions:

1. Do not teach a book a chapter at a time. We read the book in chunks and I give a reading calendar at the beginning.

2. Provide “framing” (context, supplemental materials, and topic floods) to eliminate a barrier to understanding.

3. Structure around a theme (meets CCSS: “two or more texts address similar themes).

4. Find a literacy focus and learning target for reading. Students can’t hit a bull’s-eye if they don’t know the target.
a. I use Notice and Note
b. Ariel Sacks: Literal, Inferential, Critical
c. Jeffrey Wilhelm: Fresh Takes on Literary Elements
d. Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts: Lens, Patterns, Understanding

5. Honor their thoughts. There is no one right answer.

6. Gradually release responsibility as the novel goes on and as the year goes on. I do, We do, You do, You do together, You do alone.

7. Give writing assignments and active experiences that tie to the book and complement the text. BIBITT and Creative. Use novel as mentor text to read like a writer.

8. Don’t choose a book that is too far above their reading level. Provide supports for students who struggle and options for students who fly.

9. Quit grading every little thing! However, do plenty of formative assessments along the way.
a. Mosaic of Thought
b. I Read It, but I Don’t Get It
c. So What Do They Really Know?
d. Making Thinking Visible
e. Notice and Note
f. Stephanie Harvey and Anne Gouvidis
g. Harvey Daniels and Stephanie Harvey
h. Dick Allington


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