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The Reading Zone [Format Kindle]

Nancie Atwell

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Long an advocate of frequent, voluminous reading in schools, the author draws on evidence gathered in twenty years of classroom teaching to make the case for reading workshop more powerful than ever. The book establishes the top ten conditions for making engaged classroom reading possible for students at all levels and provides the practical support and structures necessary for achieving them.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.8 étoiles sur 5  37 commentaires
156 internautes sur 157 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Passionate and compelling: The Reading Zone is a must read 11 janvier 2007
Par Mary G. Dovey - Publié sur
Nancie Atwell calls her new book The Reading Zone a manifesto: that free choice of books and time to read should be a child's right from kindergarten until high school. She uses her more than 20 years of successful teaching to support her claim that the only delivery system for reading comprehension is reading. I couldn't agree more. Eight years ago I read her seminal work, In the Middle, and it changed my life as a teacher. The techniques she used in her middle school reading and writing workshop affirmed everything I felt in my heart to be true. I worked hard to create my own workshop, wrote grants for books and purchased hundreds myself. I read, read, read until I knew most books well enough to recommend them to my students. And it worked. With independent reading as the mainstay of our reading block, I saw my kids, 7th and 8th graders with little or no previous interest in reading, enter into their own "reading zones" and blossom into authentic readers, right before my eyes, long before the end of the school year.

I should have been ecstatic, but I found myself uneasy. Was it enough to let kids just read and do occasional projects that promoted their books to their peers? It all seemed too simple. I worried that I wasn't doing enough. Eventually, I did what Atwell herself admits to doing in The Reading Zone: I jumped (she says she "vaulted") into teaching comprehension strategies techniques-- predicting, connecting, visualizing, questioning, summarizing, re-telling and so on. This focus should have enriched my workshop, but it didn't. Atwell explains far better than I what happened in her classroom that caused her to "collect the sticky notes," and makes the case that these are study skill techniques, valuable in approaching difficult text, material above a student's independent reading, but unsuitable for teachers to focus on during workshop. Insisting that students stop and predict, list connections, etc., interrupts the reader, slowing him down and taking him out of the "zone."

One of the book's most compelling chapters is a long overdue a cry to our colleagues at the high school level. Atwell writes about seeing her avid readers graduate eighth grade--and become non-readers for the next four years. She could have been writing about my students, or my own daughter whose experiences with the sacred canon of literature, The Scarlet Letter, Great Expectations, vocabulary pages, grammar exercises and the like, mirrored that of her former student who "lost" four years as a reader. Fortunately, both young women made the journey back to a love of literature in college, but are probably among a select few. Atwell asks high school teachers to re-consider how they teach English, to think about what will make a true difference in the intellectual lives of their students.

Those who want practical advice on acquiring, displaying, and maintaining classroom libraries, as well as ways to meet the needs of all readers, including those with learning disabilities, techniques to assess that don't include busywork, etc., will find it in The Reading Zone. But make no mistake: this book is passionate, compelling, beautifully written and lean--at 140 pages, it's a far cry from In the Middle--but is every bit as important for teachers "who can help children seek, and find, delight and enlargement of life in books."
111 internautes sur 113 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Empire Strikes Back: Student Choice in Reading Redux 28 juin 2007
Par Ken C. - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I teach middle school English, read and profusely highlighted Nancie Atwell's seminal work IN THE MIDDLE, and once served as an intern at her Center for Teaching and Learning one snowy February in Edgecomb, Maine (a class act, Atwell came in on a snow day to meet with a group of teachers who expected the day to be a complete loss due to the school closing). Under her influence, I built an in-class library at considerable cost, launched a full-steam-ahead reading workshop, and spent countless weekends poring over kids' reading journals so I could write back encouragement and questions. Still, there were always questions and concerns about the workshop method (not to mention the time-intensive journals), plus new reading strategies to reckon with as the years rolled by. This new book deals with both issues - concerns related to workshop methodology as well as the latest reading strategy fads.

For instance, in recent years our school has jumped on the "Sticky-Note Bandwagon" and English teachers were like flies to flypaper following its prescriptions to create better student readers. Under this "Reading Strategies That Work" spell, we began to isolate readings, stop our readers mid-page, and teach kids how to make connections, determine importance, ask questions, make inferences, visualize, and synthesize.

You can imagine my pleasure, then, when I read Atwell's words in a chapter called "Comprehension." She writes, "In the 1990's, I jumped -- VAULTED is a more accurate verb -- onto the comprehension-strategy bandwagon.... In I plunged. I explained proficient reader research and schema theory to my students. I prepared, rehearsed, and modeled a connection-packed read-aloud of a short story by Robert Cormier. Then I passed out individual pads of self-sticking notes and invited kids to activate their existing schema, connect these to the new schema that emerged as they read, and capture it all on sticky notes" (pp. 51-53).

If misery loves company, then you know why I found comfort in these words. You see, I, too, had followed the pied piper. I, too, had sensed something was wrong as my students dutifully parroted my words and terms while playing a game whose rules I spelled out. And yes -- I, too, had sticky-noted my way to reading perdition, wondering all along why so sound a theory was striking such a strident note with my increasingly restive 8th-grade readers.

Enter THE READING ZONE, where the Empire Strikes Back in the form of Atwell reaffirming her original tenets, built on the work of countless researchers such as Frank Smith and Louise Rosenblatt. Turns out, all that stopping to think about reading was interfering with... reading; and all that stopping to write on a sticky note was interfering with... the zone. In the words of Atwell via Rosenblatt, it's a case of efferent reading vs. aesthetic -- reading for knowledge (as in, from a textbook or article) vs. reading for pleasure (as in, from a novel, short story, or poem). Must the "fun" be gutted from reading with a coroner's report of "Death by Sticky Note"? Atwell thinks not.

And when you think about it, it's common sense. As teenagers, how many of us -- while we secretly continued to read THE OUTSIDERS by flashlight under the covers long after Mom had insisted we go to sleep -- remember pausing Ponyboy to write down a connection, detaining Dally to determine importance, or stopping the Socs to synthesize? Not this guy. In a world far away from the sheets and blanket that tented my head, I was in the zone, flipping pages without realizing they were pages, wondering if Johnny would pull through and live or if Dally would ever get to "see" stuff like sunrises. Isn't that what reading was supposed to be? Isn't that what made reading such a vicarious delight?

A satisfying return to sanity, THE READING ZONE came as a needed refresher for me and a reaffirmation of the vows I once took. Having read it, I feel as though I have strayed, become lost, and found my way back again.

For new readers to Atwell, this book will serve as a clarion call to the ramparts. It is an eloquent plea for pleasure reading, for kids, and for sanity in English instruction. In addition to practical "how to" type information, Atwell explains her philosophy with support and includes a special chapter addressing high school English teachers -- those keepers of ancient traditions that often perpetuate the sins of our pedagogical fathers. For anyone who remembers reading MOBY DICK chapter by chapter and pop quiz by pop quiz, it is a whale of an eye-opener.

As for workshop-related concerns, Atwell admits that she, too, struggled under the workload of carrying boxes of reading journals home each weekend. First she broke it up by having kids write to each other for 3 weeks, then her for 3 weeks. And now she's come to having kids write a "letter essay" every 3 weeks (the kids' letters can be staggered) ONLY about a book that they have completed. This reduces the number of letters and allows the kids a greater range of topics to address (Atwell provides prompts) as they look back. It also hones the literary criticism skills in such demand during high school and college.

Overall, the book serves as both long-awaited updating to IN THE MIDDLE and bracing read for teachers and parents who are new to Atwell's teachings and beliefs. As for me, it was proof that Thomas Wolfe was right. You CAN go home again... and I feel like I have. For that, I tip my metaphorical hat to Atwell. As is the case with hers, my workshop classroom will continue to be a work in progress, always built on a bedrock of principles based on choice.
46 internautes sur 48 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Accessible and Persuasive 27 février 2007
Par T. D. - Publié sur
This is a fine, fine book that works on its own or as a compliment to all of her earlier work. What to add to the previous review? I, too, found Atwell's challenge to teachers at the high school level - and by extension, their parents - to be especially powerful. Students are so loaded with vocabulary words and double-entry journals and literary minutia and book reports that they avoid reading anything beyond assigned materials, and too often learn to abhor all that falls under the `English' umbrella. Whose interests are served by a curriculum that proscribes experimentation, curiosity, and exploration?

Her critique of reading programs and `skill building' instruction is also sobering. With countless dollars and many instructional hours devoted to building reading skill from Kindergarten through community college, it is worth remembering that reading is an art best crafted through habitual, passionate, thoughtful practice. Although teachers have an arsenal of A.R., DOL, SQ3R, and all the rest, there is precious little evidence that students learn to read because of these tools (for further evidence on this point, look into Stephen Krashen's "The Power of Reading").

Once again, Atwell swims against the educational currents in which most of us blithely bounce. The greatest challenge presented by her oeuvre is that she is highly self reflective and attuned to her professional responsibilities. Atwell holds nothing sacred beyond what is best for her students. Her work cannot be copied because it continues to evolve. Her stance may be digested, but each teacher must then engage with his or her unique students in their particular context. I, for one, hope to be up to the challenge "The Reading Zone" presents to all of us in the teaching profession.
21 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Reading Zone is important. Atwell sends message to all teachers. 12 juillet 2007
Par Zman - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I wish every LA/English/Reading teacher would read this book. Atwell, in her experience and wisdom continues to advocate independent reading and a reading workshop approach as the single most important element of any English classroom. Her language is more blunt and direct than in any of her previous books. Her argument here is that, like most things, if you want to learn to read, you read. All other "related" strategy, vocabulary, grammar, worksheet, book report type activities are a waste of time. Notice the title, though, if that sounds wrong to you. She clearly explains how having students read in a workshop along with teacher conversation, whole group sharing, and a written response in the form of a "letter-essay" are all that is required to create "skilled, passionate, habitual, critical readers." Also includes an excellent chapter on what reading/writing instruction should look like in high school. The book is written with clear, direct, concise language. It is a quick and important read. I agree with her position and her approach. Buy this book!
20 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 As Good As Expected 12 mars 2007
Par George Hoeppner - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Nancie Atwell has set a high standard for her work. The Reading Zone does not disappoint. It is a short, clearly written work that is beneficial to all teachers and parents. It gives specific recommendations for improving student reading and, more importantly, students' love of reading. Much of its philosophy will fly in the face of the strategies teaching of reading that is currently in vogue because of the standardized testing craze. I highly recommend this book.
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