Most 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.
9 Things I Loved About Disrupting Thinking–and One Thing I Didn’t
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.