Atwell and the Reading Zone

Atwell explains the “reading zone” as the place where a reader finds themselves once they fully get engaged into a “good book” of their choice. I was exited to realize that I had been there. I’m sure all of us have, at one time or another, but I was glad that I felt like I had a connection with the author. It’s like getting lost in the book or falling into the pages and not wanting to be pulled out.

I also liked what she calls the “Reader’s Bill of Rights”, where reading is allowed to be  relaxing instead of rigid and unconventional.

I liked the idea of having a classroom library so kids can have a choice in what they read. THis idea will encourage them to want to read and I think if I were a teacher, I would make all Thursday classes “Reading Day.” Bring a book to class and you will get a 100% and if you don’t have one, then you can take one from my shelf.

I think that the process of metacognition can destroy the joy of reading because it makes  the process rigid.

I was startled by the statistic that a third of middle school students and half of the 15 to 17 year olds only read about 2 or 3 times a month because they can’t find books that they want to read. I thought it was because they did not want to bother and had better things to do!

I’m glad that Atwell knocked down the steroetype about the male reader not being smart enough to enjoy reading on the same level as girls. Some believe that boys are genetically dumb and this is why they don’t want to read.

I thought this was interesting when she wrote, “students who don’t enter high school as skilled, passionate, critical, habitual readers have an even slimmer chance of experiencing meaningful literacy, there or ever.” (Atwell, 110) I believe that this is a true statement and it makes sense when you think about the real statistic. THe average American reads less than 1 book a year!

I also liked her language arts blocks and the times she had for teaching certain lessons:

                                                          -Daily poems

                                                           -Writing or reading mini lessons

                                                           – Independant Writing

                                                          -Booktalks/read aloud

                                                           -Independant reading

Ray Canada

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Atwell and the Reading Zone

  1. allison

    Ray,
    Isn’t the reading zone an awesome place? I feel like I’ve been there, too, at times.

    What did you think of Atwell’s letter-essays? I LOVED this idea. I think it would be particularly effective in a junior high setting. It could create a sense of community and intimacy in the classroom. Atwell asks the students to write two to her and two to a friend. I’m glad she includes the letters to friends as well, because I think it’s important for the learning to go on from student-to-student, not just student-to-teacher.

    I thought it would be great if these letter-essays could be collected in a class book. “Between Friends: Letters About Books,” or something. I’m big on turning littler projects into bigger ones, so I like the idea of this.

    I wonder if the class could even team up with another school and send letters to their “pen pals” about the books they are reading. This could connect schools across the nation or even the world. And with email, this could be incredibly easy to do.

    I like Atwell’s book because her creativity triggers mine. I find her ideas inspiring. By simply turning the typical essay into a letter, we have a more creative way to learn. It’s more entertaining for the students and the teacher!

  2. jillian24

    I’m very excited to have finished Atwell’s book and found that she addresses some of the concerns we had in our first discussion about it.

    I was intrigued by the concept of block scheduling being more effective. I’ve never experienced it except in college, but saw it as a long time for students to be focused. Regardless of the length of class, I definitely support the multiple mini-lessons to keep students’ attention.

    I think that there are several ideas from this book that I would make a foundation in my classroom. The reading zone would be first, including the comfortable areas and classroom library. I would use reading and writing workshop with their mini lessons, as well.

    I would like to add the other things we have been discussing: book club, technology and criticism, but I think those things fit well in mini-lessons and “group” projects. I like your idea, Allison, of expanding and reflecting upon the letter-essays. Nothing is stopping us from creating a web-page advertising our class’ favorite books and including their letter-essays.

    I also really like the idea of using the internet to connect with other classrooms. It would also integrate multicultural literature into the curriculum without force feeding.

    I think my biggest concern is how many ideas I have and how to make them all fit. I’m definitely compiling a list so I don’t forget!

    Jillian

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