It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 4/9/18

IMWAYR-2015-logoMost of what I finished last week I’ve already written about in a #MustReadin2018 update post, so today, I will focus on just one book in more depth, Kylene Beers and Bob Probst’s Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters.

disrupting thinking

9 Things I Loved About Disrupting Thinking–and One Thing I Didn’t

  1. Reading it is like attending a presentation with Kylene and Bob. They’re a hoot together, and they’ve found a way of writing that allows them to riff off of each other and use each other’s strengths. Their back-and-forth–sharp and pointed but also warm and kind–gives the book so much voice and charm. It’s engagingly written professional development.
  2. Louise Rosenblatt’s work permeates every page. Her transactional theory of reading, which–for anyone who has read anything–will feel like such a natural and obvious and wise description of the reading process, is a much-needed antidote to the nonsensical reading standards (“four corners of the text” and so forth) that so many of us must contend with.
  3. There is a very clearly articulated vision here for what reading is meant to do: to change us. “We argue that the ultimate goal of reading is to become more than we are at the moment, to become better than we are now, to become what we did not even know we wanted to become.” If we aren’t teaching kids that people read in order to be moved and changed and prioritizing that kind of reading for them, then we need to rethink what we’re doing.
  4. They share clear and simple practices for helping kids become responsive, responsible, and compassionate readers. 3 Big Questions and the Book, Head, Heart protocols are easy to remember and to apply to most reading.
  5. This book is saturated with research, including quite a bit that I’ve never heard of before. For those administrators who clamor for quantitative data, this book provides it.
  6. It’s often quite provocative. Beers and Probst aren’t afraid to tell it like they see it and like it is. Schools talk a lot about research-based best practices, but they don’t see best practices informing instruction at many of the schools they visit each year. Should we still be talking about best practices at all? Isn’t it time for next practices?
  7. They bring to light and make short work of some of the nonsense many of us hear from administrators. “I’ll come back when you’re teaching” (said when kids are avidly reading their independent reading books) or “You can’t waste time in your classroom on reading”–usually delivered right after a demand to raise reading scores. Beers and Probst’s take on these typical scenarios will encourage and empower teachers.
  8. The Turn & Talk questions that end each chapter are actually really good discussion questions, and they push readers to take a hard look at their schools and classrooms to see what’s really going on for students. This would be a phenomenal staff development book to read and discuss together, especially if administrators were included.
  9. It’s short! It’s only about 160 pages, there are lots of visuals, images, and infographics to break up the space as well as nice wide margins.
  10. And the one thing that didn’t work as well for me: a lot of invitations to hop online to watch videos of Beers and Probst or to access further material. That’s become a standard feature in PD books, and I suppose it’s nice, but I rarely read with my laptop handy and by the time I am back to my computer, I’m no longer thinking about the PD book I’m reading.

In short, this is a book that will appeal to reading teachers of all levels of experience and all backgrounds and beliefs. It’s a provocative challenge to improve reading instruction and provides both the theory and the practices to get started with real improvement.







18 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 4/9/18”

  1. 2shaye Avatar

    I have a secret love affair with lists, so how can I not LOVE this review?! This is another one I’d love to read once the semester is over. Do you own it? If so, I’ll have to grab you when I come trying to find ALL the other books you own. 🙂

    1. 2shaye Avatar

      P.S. I hope Ghost made it back to you safely a couple weeks ago. Now I need to finish Patina so I can grab Sunny as soon as we get a copy in this area.

    2. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I love a list too and admired a book review Clare at Teachers for Teachers wrote in list form sometime last month. I think this is my new plan for PD book reviews: the list! The campus library has this one, and I’ll be returning it tomorrow so feel free to request!

  2. lindabaie Avatar

    I won’t comment much about this, have stopped nearly all PD books, but glad to read that you enjoyed most of it.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That makes sense, Linda. I suspect that you have already thought every thought in Disrupting Reading anyway!

  3. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    Thanks for this review. I haven’t read any of Beers or Probst’s books. I feel like I’m behind the eight ball on that one.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m actually a big fan of their earlier work, Probst’s Response & Analysis, which is a terrific and underrated book on reading and response, and Beers’s When Kids Can’t Read–not one to read cover to cover but very useful when diagnosing and resolving reading challenges.

  4. cweichel Avatar

    Disruptive Thinking is one of my must read nonfiction titles this year. If I didn’t already want to read it, as soon as I read Louise Rosenblatt, I knew I had to read it. I just discovered that my library system has one available and it is now on it’s way to me! Whopppee!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Love love love Rosenblatt! I’m teaching a new course on reading this fall and am very much looking forward to a deep dive reread of Rosenblatt this summer to prepare.

  5. Myra GB Avatar

    Oh we still don’t have this PD text in my institution’s library, time to recommend it to our friendly librarian. Thanks for the detailed notes here. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s well worth a look, Myra.

  6. Kellee Avatar

    I knew I wanted to read this one, but now I know I NEED to read this one.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think it works well for new teachers, for teachers new to these ideas, as well as for veteran teachers who have long been practicing these ways of reading and teaching reading.

  7. tbreitweiser Avatar

    I have this book and have skimmed it….I am motivated to read it again

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I liked it as a reminder of what we need to be about in the reading classroom and a call to action!

  8. Akilah Avatar

    I had to Google “four corners of the text” since I hadn’t heard of it before. Turns out it’s just New Criticism, so everything old is new again, basically. (I mean, listen, I love close reading, but do we have to give everything ridiculous names?)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes, conscripted as the foundation for the Common Core Reading Standards. How anyone who has ever had the experience of reading anything could possibly subscribe to that understanding of texts and the ways texts work confounds me.

      1. Akilah Avatar

        Texts don’t exist in a vacuum, but this method doesn’t seem to ask what reading the text tells us about the context of the work. When I do rhetorical analysis, I start with what the text tells us about the context of the work first and ask them to evaluate it based on that, but that doesn’t mean the text is the only thing. Sigh.

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