For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers. This is day 7 of 31.
7/31 Why Not Consider Debbie Miller & Marie Kondo #sol19
March 6, 2018
I am a product of a Debbie Miller Reading with Meaning age. I don’t mean the 2nd edition. I mean my 2002 coffee-stained, dog-eared, autographed copy of the original Reading with Meaning. I was a devotee way before I really knew who Lucy Calkins was. It takes a while for those east coast ideas to get out to the prairie. What Debbie Miller taught me, among many other things, was that our working/teaching/learning environment was important. Much like Lucy Calkins calls it a laboratory or a workshop, Debbie Miller created a culture for thinking and learning that included tablecloths, child height tables, pictures in frames, curtains, lamps, and rugs. Those things are fairly standard in classrooms today, but in my early teaching, having tables instead of desks was pretty unusual outside of kindergarten.photo from Reading With Meaning by Debbie Miller
In those early days of my reading (and writing) intervention, I planned with teachers about not just the mentor texts, the book bags, and partners, but about music during writing, soft natural lighting, and pillows. School became a much more comfortable place.
Flash forward nearly twenty year and I still have lamps and comfortable seats, colorful book bins, and pillows. I still consult sometimes with teachers about table arrangements and places for students to do their work. I think with them about how many anchor charts we have on the walls and how accessible the books are for the students.
I’ll write longer about books in classrooms in another post, but today, Marie Kondo… So unless you’ve been away from social media, you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo, the new guru of tidying up. To oversimplify her process, she teaches to respect your space, keep what you love and use, and let the rest gently go with a thank you.
So how does this gentle tidying up connect with Debbie Miller’s warmth and Lucy Calkins and colleagues’ workshop? Making the literacy center purposeful, lovely(ish) and easy to access. Asking myself and others are these materials useful for our students and for our instruction. I touched each book in this literacy center. The rough figure for what books came out on the other side is around 12,000 books rough estimate. I think I recycled or repurposed another 1,000 or more books. I read each book, thought about its merit and grouped it with liked books so that teachers could take them away and use them easily. The process took approximately five months.
Now the book are organized by type, by use, by genre, by reading level. I considered their groupings and where those would be located. Their titles are easy to see and they are ready to go out in the world. The literacy center has been tidied up. It might take a little more for it to be warm, cozy, and inviting. I haven’t forgotten what I’ve learned from Debbie Miller.
Next step, an open house, a welcome from the books to their users.
Thank you to Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan for inspiring this transformation both in me and in the literacy collection through your personal work and through your transformative book, It’s All About the Books. sk