On the podcast: Changing how students read (and a giveaway!)

Emily Morrow  //  Apr 6, 2017

On the podcast: Changing how students read (and a giveaway!)

This week on the podcast, we sat down with award-winning authors and literacy educators Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst to talk about their new book, Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read MattersThey shared their hope that teachers will start looking at reading as a tranformational experience rather than a practice of decoding, recalling, and responding to questions. 

Ultimately, they say, they want young people to become not only skillful readers, but also responsive readers who are aware of their own emotions and reactions while reading; responsible readers who think about what the text means for others, society, and themselves; and compassionate readers who, through reading, develop empathy that helps them understand others.

Pop in your headphones and give our latest episode a listen here, or by subscribing to Scholastic Reads on iTunes.


While you're listening, enter for a chance to win! We're giving away two copies of Disrupting Thinking. To enter, leave us a comment below about an experience you had with a student in which reading was a changemaker. 

One entry per person. All entries must be submitted by 5pm ET on Thursday, April 20, 2017. U.S. residents, 18 and over, please. See the complete legal rules here.

**UPDATE 4/21/17: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winners! 


I worked with a third grader

I worked with a third grader a few years ago that had no desire to read. He was very vocal about not wanting to read and not liking readers by in general. Part way through the year he looked at me and said "You have made me LOVE READING! Now I want to read all the time!" The right books at the right time was a game changer for him and his comment was a game changer for me!

I have a student this year

I have a student this year who came from a classroom of, "You can only choose and read books from your independent level" One day in early September he noticed a book in a bin far above his "level" that he wanted to read. He mentioned to another student that he wanted to read it, but couldn't because it wasn't at his "level". The other student, whom I had the privilege of looping for a 3rd year, knew the advice I would have given so she told him, "If you're interested in reading it, just give it a go". I couldn't have been more proud of her. As for the boy? It was a book on steam engines, a topic he had a great deal of schema about. He was able to read the book because of his schema and his INTEREST in reading it. It was a game changer because he suddenly realized he was more than a level! Fast forward to April... He is a strong, confident reader and no longer worries about the levels when choosing books. Kids are SO MUCH MORE than a level!

I had a student in 1st grade

I had a student in 1st grade who was struggling & discouraged reader. Her teacher would send her to the library during open checkout and every time she came to the library, she & I would read a book together. It was a real struggle at first for her & it took a lot of time for us to get through just one book but she & I persisted. She began to seek me out whenever she would come to the library so we could read together. A year later, she is a voracious reader, always asking me for suggestions on what to read next. I saw her mother this week at a school event and she commented that she can't get her daughter to stop reading! She was so grateful her daughter had a such a reading passion. This student's success is an encouragement to me to help another student develop the same passion!

This year I helped introduced

This year I helped introduced an Independent Daily Reading (IDR) program into our intermediate grades, based on the concepts in The Book Whisperer. I interviewed one student during a conference mid year. He had made significant gains on his MAP scores and I asked him what was different? He replied that now he was reading more. He found out he likes it so now he does it all the time :)

Just last week, one of my

Just last week, one of my third graders asked for a book suggestion. Awesome! This student was reluctant to read independently in September. Slowly, this reader built stamina reading books from the same series. Awesome again! This student recognized that choice was respected and stuck with what worked... until it didn't. Then, this child asked for a book suggestion. Enthusiastically, I escorted the child to our extensive classroom library and helped to make it accessible. As Beers and Probst talk about in the podcast, too much choice can result in no choice. I sifted through several book bind for some choices that could engage this reader's interests. As I was placing books on the table, the student began reading one of them while another student pointed to a book in the stack and said, "That's a good one. I read that. It's really funny." Triple awesomeness! A teacher recommendation is good. A classmate's seal of approval is gold, and confirmation that a reading community has been established. Then, full tilt awesomeness when the reluctant reader was later seen giggling over the first book selected in the stack, and, in the same day, had moved on to the book the classmate had recommended. Did I mention that this happened in the middle of standardized testing? Students finding books that engage them, make them giggle, and compel them to recommend them to others is the ultimate measure of reading. It shows engagement, interest, and recognition that books move us...to laughter or otherwise. Changing readers, one book experience at a time!

I have had 13 years of

I have had 13 years of experience teaching in a bilingual classroom in 1st and 2nd grade. I remember my 3rd year I had a little girl who had a traumatic experience and this wonderful lady, who later became her legal mom, was trying to adopt her. Well as is typical, my student was still a non reader. This is why I love 1st grade, I teach most of my class to read. My student was very excited about learning to read. When mom requested a parent/teacher conference she shared my student's background and also confessed that she was illiterate but that she would try to help my student as much as she could at home. So I gave my student reading strategies and the freedom to choose what she wanted to read. Our school was an AR school, but I was focusing more on getting my student excited about reading. Soon she was taking books home from our class library on top of the phonetic books from Scholastic I was sending home each week. She used all the reading strategies that I taught her and pretty soon she became a voracious reader. Her writing also improved as well. The most tender, heart wrenching and incredible thing about this student's reading life, and the part I will forever remember, is that she taught her adoptive mother how to read and write as well. This wonderful child would take her books and homework and share her knowledge with mom at home. Around March of that school year, my student's mom came to give me the good news that she was my student's official mom. She was also carrying a book in her hand. She wanted to let me know that she helped my student with her Science Project, but that my student did most of the work. She opened the book, I noticed it was a 3rd grade level book, and started reading through some paragraphs she found interesting. As she read and struggled with some words, I knew at this point that she wanted to share that my student had taught her to read. I hugged her and when she left, I couldn't help but burst into happy tears with what I had witnessed. My little, still 6 year old, student had taught her mom the power and love of reading. I was, and still am every time I recall, astounded how a student with all she had gone through could find the love of reading and then share it with her mom in such a life-changing way. She became one of my best readers that year. Later the librarian would always share with me that her and her friends that had been with me that school year still went to check out books daily in Spanish and English. My librarian was always mentioning this to me because my student did this every year she was in that elementary school up to fifth grade. This is one of the many stories I cherish of how the power of reading can not only impact students' lives, but their families' as well.

It's hard for me to pinpoint

It's hard for me to pinpoint one experience with one child but I will say that ever since I read the daily five and the book whisperer I was able to implement successfully authentic daily independent reading routines but of transformed many lives in my classroom, I am seeing my students love to read and see that there is joy and pleasure in reading and how amazing that experience can be.

I vividly remember a student

I vividly remember a student new to my school a few years ago. He was a fourth grader who had many low academic skills. Our reading instruction has a very student-centered component, where kids can choose their own books, not limited by levels. At the end of the year when he was reflecting on his reading growth, he noted that at his old school, he only read 2 books in 3rd grade, but this year in 4th grade, he read 28 books. He was astounded at the difference in the number. I also saw that his academic skills showed tremendous growth, a clear connection to his increase in reading. He could pinpoint the book he read in the fall that changed his connection to books, the right one for him that helped him become an avid reader.

When Nick entered my class

When Nick entered my class hating reading of any kind I knew it was war- in the nicest way possible! Eventually he became sucked into the emotions and excitement of stories and put up his white flag. He taught me that the emotional draw and relationship to personal experience is the only way in for some, and it's the way to maintain interest while raising the difficulty level for all the rest.

In the past year, I have read

In the past year, I have read and reread books by Donalyn Miller, Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle. I have revamped my ELA classes in a workshop format where the students read freely and independently. They conference with me and each other. They journal and they write. Students who had, just two months ago, identified as non-readers, have read three books in the first reporting term! Others have expanded their reading to include new genres. They have all challenged themselves in some way and improved their reading habits exponentially! So proud of this class! Planning to implement the workshop format with my other ELA classes as well.

I am a speech teacher &

I am a speech teacher & currently working with a special Ed second grade student who cannot read. Her lack of motivation and low self esteem gets in the way of her learning. She is not responding to language/reading program (Wilson/Fundations program) her classroom teacher is using and we don't know what else can be done to get her to focus or show any interest in reading. Since she has an IEP and most likely be promoted to the next grade. This is so frustrating for us because we don't know how to help her make any progress in her learning.

This year my struggling

This year my struggling readers balked at the idea of SSR (Sustained Silent Reading) every night for 20 -30 minutes. In years past, they have done so initially, but they get on board eventually. Not this time, even with access to as many books as I can squeeze into my classroom, and new books coming regularly via my Amazon Prime account, I still had a core group of students in October and early November who were reading maybe 8 pages a day, maybe. I was terrified. I regularly confer with my students to discuss their book selections and with this year's resistant crop, I struggled to light that fire with that "one book" that would change everything and get them hooked. It wasn't until they asked as a group to begin class with SSR that I noticed a slight shift. My self-identified non-readers were much more willing to read in class than at home. Little by little we started having real conversations about the books they were reading. I had been so frazzled at the idea of giving up precious learning time, but the rewards we reaped together as a class doing SSR far outweighed where I was in my pacing guide. I had been reluctant because my administrator frowned upon SSR. I understood its value, but I didn't understand how powerful being among readers while you read could be. I discovered that my non-readers had no one at home who read anything. I know my population, I'm not naïve to think copies of The Wall Street Journal or The Atlantic were delivered regularly, but this was my first group of kids who had did not have access to print. Everything was on a phone or a screen of some sort, everything. Needless to say, the tide has changed. My conversations with them one on one are authentic and hilarious and they now jump in and recommend books to their peers with confidence. I'm so grateful I listened to their request and we are all the better for it.

I filtered through a few book

I filtered through a few book tie for a few decisions that could draw in this current peruser's interests. As I was putting books on the table, the understudy started understanding one of them while another understudy pointed

All of this so resonates with

All of this so resonates with me! I plan on reading this over the summer! It is my hope of possibly starting a book club with teachers in my district, so we can all learn and practice together!

It has not been about a

It has not been about a moment or a child. It has been about persistence, patience and passionate pursuit of finding the right book for each child, and I've taught k-12, who declares that he hates reading. I have not found the one for every child, but when one has bound into my room, declaring that they read all weekend, finished the book, LOVED the book, want the next one in the series, or by the same author, my heart is full.

I have had several students

I have had several students who have never found a book they liked. One of my students this year used to be that kid, until I got him hooked on graphic novels. Now that he has flown through several graphic novels, he is willing to try other books I recommend. He is currently reading a book in verse (The Crossover) for our Reading Without Walls challenge!

Recently, we started reading

Recently, we started reading "Ghost" as a class, and it has been amazing to me to see the impact that diverse characters in books has had with my students. For the first time, many of my students are coming to tell me that they are connecting deeply with the main character and they understand why the character has certain feelings and emotions. Not only is it important to have books for our students, but it is also equally as important to expose our students to books with characters who have different backgrounds, experiences and thoughts.

Recently, I had an RtI class

Recently, I had an RtI class where readers who had failed their benchmarks were pulled for more intense reading practice. I decided to abandon the notion of worksheets and excerpts and dive fully into the readers workshop model. The first few weeks were painful and a fight, but eventually choice reading, book talks, and quiet time to read made more of an impact than printing off excerpts from our state test. Eventually, kids were WANTING to read and by the end, all but 1 of my 14 students had raised their benchmark scores so much, they could exit the program. However, the best story came from one of my RtI students named Michael. Michael proclaimed himself a "hater of all books." I constantly was putting books on his desk, asking him to try, try, try. Eventually, he was hooked by the Bluford series book Brothers in Arms. Then he picked up the sequel, and then another book, and another. He told me after he finished his fourth novel, "Mr. B--you have cured me!" He's been doing great ever since.

I was a student teacher last

I was a student teacher last year, working with 2 groups of 4th and 5th graders in the resource setting. We read aloud in round robin fashion, and sometimes we would stop to talk about vocabulary that we didn't know or pause so I could ask the kids questions about the character's actions. The principal came into my classroom for 5 minutes one day as we were reading "The Bridge to Terabithia". She told me later that the book was too hard for my students, and that I should really pick something else. She observed my student that struggles the most reading aloud (with a principal lurking over her shoulder) for 5 minutes and felt that she could make that call. We continued to read and discuss the book, and I saw their understanding through our projects that we completed as we read. Yes, it can be rough while students are picking up the tricks and techniques, while they are working through their own struggles with reading - however, this doesn't mean that we shouldn't challenge them with complex material. I saw my students change from unexcited readers that asked why they had to read "baby books", to students who were inspired by what they read - and that, made all the difference.

This would make a great book

This would make a great book study this summer! This year has been the year of graphic novels. I had a student read all of the Amulet series and then bring in his friend to get him started on them:)

During a first reading

During a first reading conference with a new sixth grade boy, he was adamant that he just was not a reader. He didn't like reading and never would. (Humph.) He was my project this year. I was determined to change his mind about reading. I spent the first two months using all the resources I knew to help this reluctant reader latch on to a book. Graphic novels, short books, sport books, comics. Nothing worked. Then in December, when the class read aloud our first shared novel, "The Dreamer" by Pam Munoz Ryan, I noticed the boy was entirely engrossed, the whole time, without fidgeting, or needing several bathroom or water breaks. Bingo! He liked to be read to. He even approached me wanting to discuss the book. With the help of our tech coordinator, we have started an audio library to complement our classroom library. Now, there are several reluctant readers who read and listen and are proud of themselves for the many books they have completed this year.

While exploring puns and the

While exploring puns and the concept of comedy of manners, I had students who fell in love with the wit and wisdom of Oscar Wilde. They can't get enough of his dazzling dialogue. Now they beg to do scenes from his brilliant work and delight in tossing out his wicked one liners.

A non-reader in my class in

A non-reader in my class in September is now proudly sitting with the tomes of Inkheart and Inkspell on his desk. Why? He thought he was stupid. I convinced him that severe dyslexia did not stop him from being highly intelligent and that he could do anything he wants to. When reading whole class novels he has impressed the rest of the class with his astonishing memory, ability to make links and thoughtful analysis.

This is my first year

This is my first year implementing the Reading Workshop approach in my 5th and 6th grade ELA classes. Because of this, students were getting used to having independent reading time each day. One of my reluctant reader boys was struggling to find books he enjoyed, and so after questioning about some interests and more, I suggested Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles series. He ate it up, and a few days later, I received an email from his mom. She told me that he asked for a ton of those books for Christmas, and he had never done anything like that before. On Christmas morning, I got another message - a picture of this student, smiling ear to ear, holding up his new treasured books! What an awesome Christmas present that was to me!

As a high school reading

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I had a student who did not

I had a student who did not start school until he was 7. He was found when the truant officer visited the home about one of his 6 siblings. He was placed in my Kindergarten class. I was asked it sit in on an ARD it was recommended he be labeled EMR. I asked if I could work with him the rest of the year to build his background knowledge. We started having him listen to audiobooks, having older students and community volunteers come read to him. By the end of the year he was ready to go on the First grade. He was stil behind but had made so much progress they were no longer talking about labeling him EMR.

As an instructional coach, I

As an instructional coach, I work more with teachers than kids most days--and I really miss the kids. This year my office is next to a fourth grade classroom, and a few months ago one of the fourth grade boys wandered by and volunteered that he was reading Charlotte's Web. Over the next few weeks, I asked him about the book when I saw him in the hall and he began stopping in my doorway to tell me about how surprised he was when he found out that Charlotte was a spider and what he thought was going to happen to each of the characters. He made sure to come find me when he finished the book because he wanted to talk about the ending and tell me that he'd already started a new book--Andrew Clements' Lunch Money--because he wanted to make sure I had read it, too. It's amazing how books can build relationships! I'm really looking forward to reading Disrupting Thinking to learn new ways to continue fostering a purpose and love for reading in students as I transition back into an intermediate classroom this fall.

I discovered how important it

I discovered how important it is to teach metacognition skills after a 3rd grader shared with me that they can't ever remember what they read. Teaching our students strategies to think about what they read and how it makes them feel is so crucial to comprehension.

This year, my students read

This year, my students read Because of Mr. Terrupt. They spent the whole year wanting to be good like the students in his classroom.

One of my 9th grade

One of my 9th grade struggling readers was frustrated when she would start reading and then her mind would wander and she couldn't discuss what she had read. This was a constant problem for texts she was assigned (rather than fictional reading she chose). I helped her use thinking symbols and annotations while reading to help her track her reactions and confusions. Not only did this help her "chunk" her text, but it helped her think about what she was reading in order to react to the content and consider its ideas. This helped her become more focused and provided a purpose when reading.

Year 10 kid, had made it all

Year 10 kid, had made it all through school without having read a book. I told him he was limiting himself and not looking for the right book. Once I was able to present him with a book that sparked his interests, I couldn't get him to put it down.

I wish i could pick just one,

I wish i could pick just one, however the person to give you many of those success stories would be the one person who I believe would benefit the most from a free copy. I recently bought an e-copy of this book and would love to gift a copy to my mentor teacher and our title 1 coach who has been an amazing resource for all things reading and ELA related. She has 15 years in the field and has made great strides in our school that serves mainly Flint, Mi kids who struggle reading at grade level. She has helped bring whole classes reading abilities up. Please help me make her aware how much our school appreciates her hard work!

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I teach 4th grade and have

I teach 4th grade and have changed over to giving my students choice in what is in their book boxes and what literature circle they are a part of. Sometimes my students pick a literature circle book that is a little more challenging for them, but because it was their choice and is a book they are interested in they do well in comprehending the book. I had a boy a couple years ago that was not a big reader and had struggled in the past. One Literature Circle he was a part of was a hard read for him but because of his background knowledge for the content of that book, he comprehended the book better then anyone else in his group. Because he had choice in his reading and I never said "I think that book is too hard for you", he loved reading by the end of the school year. Two years later I saw his dad and was told that the boy had made the honor roll.

The moment I tell students to

The moment I tell students to mark up the pages in their books by underlining, circling, highlighting and writing notes in margins, I see a transformation in how they will approach reading from that point on. There is always a hesitation to do so because of the feeling that books are simply objects, separate from themselves. Once the physical connection is made, the emotional connection follows, and students then view reading as the interactive process it was always meant to be.

I am a dyslexia teacher and

I am a dyslexia teacher and work with struggling readers all day, every day. It's hard for them to read but not to think and analyze the text. Our lesson is very explicit and systematic in nature, but when we get to our listening comprehension their demeanour changes. As I read aloud,they get to listen and engage with the text. They have a great time! I feel that at this time, they are excited and proud of their conversations about the text. They feel successful! I want to continue providing them these opportunities and help them understand that their difficulties with reading does not equal failure. 3

Bob is correct in saying that

Bob is correct in saying that often times we read books to affirm our thinking. I was interested in this book because of the title, Disrupting Thinking. I like books to challenge my thinking and make me analyze my practices which I believe this book is going to do. Many practices mentioned I use, but the new items you mentioned can push me into new avenues of thinking for myself and for my students. I cannot wait to read this book.

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