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Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters Paperback – April 1, 2017
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"Disrupting Thinking is one of the best books I've read about the power of books to disrupt complacency and promote change and the role teachers play in that disruption. Skillfully, these authors address the continuum of education K-12, making this book ideal for colleagues to read and share horizontally and vertically across grade levels."
-- Sarah Mulhern Gross, English teacher at High Technology High School, contributor to The NY Times Learning Network
-- Mindy Hoffar, All Write Consortium Director
"Beers and Probst tackle one of teachers’ greatest challenges: student apathy. They show us not only how to "teach struggling readers but how to teach readers to struggle.” And then they go the next step and show us how to turn the apathetic reader into a lifetime reader. And for both, we are grateful."
-- Danny Brassel, Ph.D., consultant and author. Author of The Lazy Readers’ Book Club
"We need students who can do more than answer questions. Tomorrow's leaders need to be able to ASK questions. This is an excellent book for all teachers whether they teach reading, language arts, or science or history. Whether they teach elementary, middle, high school or college, or at home - EVERYONE who is around children needs to read this book. It is short but powerful. I have spent over 30 years in education, and I have taught every level from pre-school through university, and this book brought me back to the WHY and HOW of teaching. It is short and easy to understand for non-teachers. As an educator it reminded me of the good things we do in teaching, but stated in their research that all of this has bee set aside to focus on numbers and passing tests - the bane of a real educator's life. Children start out loving books and reading, but by middle school that hate reading because educators are just having them study vocabulary, answer questions, and nothing more. Most schools have taken away quiet or silent sustained reading, when research shows that it works and is needed. At the same time, many schools still do round-robin reading when research shows that it does NOT work. What works: students must be given choice in what to read, we must increase the amount they read, they must be encouraged to read aloud to a partner or parent, we must teach questioning strategies and model that process, and we MUST let go of the silent classroom and encourage students to talk about their reading with other students. Many teachers believe a quiet classroom is one that is in control, but our students need to talk to each other about their reading and their work. Letting go is a critical skill for educators in this fluid and rapidly changing world. Reading builds the following: knowledge, improves overall achievement, increases overall motivation, increases vocabulary, improves writing, build background knowledge, improves understanding of text structures, develops empathy, and develops personal identity.
Please get this little book, read it, then apply the ideas to the children in your life or classroom. Please." --Texas Rose
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"If you haven't read anything by the dynamic duo Bob Probst and Kylene Beers and you are a teacher, you must! Their collaborative writing is highly readable, self-deprecating, witty, and on point. But don't be sidetracked by the entertaining repartee: their ideas about teaching are powerful, disruptive, and do-able. Don't think the double entendre of the book's title isn't intentional. While they propose and illustrate tangible ways in which we can disrupt the thinking of our students while reading (or prompt students out of what we thought were nonthinking stupors--Beers and Probst are passionately clear that we're wrong on that count), the duo is intentionally disrupting modern groupthink about teaching. If you only read 3 professional books this summer, make them: 1) Disrupting Thinking, 2) Notice and Note, and 3) Reading Nonfiction (in that order). Yes, like Star Wars, the third book in the series is really where it all begins. Disrupting Thinking outlines the philosophical underpinnings of their Notice and Note strategies. Without an understanding and willingness to embrace the philosophy behind Notice and Note, the signposts will be little more than another set of isolated reading strategies. Trust me, I taught the Nonfiction Notice and Note strategies as isolated reading strategies the first time (I know, I know, the book is clear on not doing that, but my role was to teach demonstration lessons rather than a daily core class). Like any isolated strategy, it doesn't work; kids won't and/or can't transfer their learning. I thought my flaw was a lack of text complexity. I taught the strategies but then students never needed to use them because they understood the texts without them. After reading "Disrupting Thinking," I understood that the attitude toward reading has to be in place for the Notice and Note signposts to be useful. In other words, students have to CARE enough about the text to use the strategies to figure it out. Disrupting Thinking only has one real strategy, and it is deceptively simple and powerful to the core. They call it: BHH (Book * Head * Heart). It can be taught at any level as a mindset for reading: What does the book say? What am I thinking as I read? What's in my heart while I read? (my paraphase, not theirs) The revolutionary idea is that we have to approach reading as something that changes us. When we teach our students to anticipate that what they read will change them one page at a time, then everything about how they read and how we teach reading changes, too. Simple, right? But how many teachers are out there teaching reading as anticipating change? Yet how many teachers out there read to be changed themselves? TONS. So our job is to come at reading with our students the way we do and make it matter. Somehow this simple yet powerful idea resonated with me in a way that all the book love authors have not. It's more tangible and more realistic than sharing your love of reading. They've pinpointed WHY we love reading: because it changes us. Now just because you've read my sad little synopsis, don't assume you can pass up this book. To circle back, Beers and Probst are incredible authors; their book comes with video links that I haven't even delved into yet, and you need to hear it from the two of them for yourself. You'll learn much more along the way, such as their take on recent education and reading debates, authors they look to, sample conversations to help imagine using the strategy in class, lovely sample anchor charts, etc. Is this book going to give you 24 lesson plans like Notice and Note? No. Is this book going to make those 24 lesson plans work? Yes. Get it, read it, and give it to a colleague to read, too." --Julie
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"This honestly reminds me of things like why children hate reading and schools killing the love of reading, both the subject and titles of articles and discussions in education. As an English teacher who hates to write, but loves to read, this helps me feel better about the process. I love diving into a new book and sharing it with my students. I honestly got started writing book reviews because my students would see me reading something and immediately ask to read it next. It got to the point where I couldn't remember who was next and what that particular book was about because I had moved on to something new. Writing little book reviews on my classroom webpage and having a wait list made it easier for me to keep track. Knowing that we read for pleasure far more often than we read for any particular literary device or testing strategy is far more important for building lifelong literacy. I love that Beers addresses this and focuses on talking about the relationship of book and reader to engage in comprehension. Trying to figure out motivations and connections to the literature helps me connect and I have always wanted to share that with my students. I love that there are books out there that make me feel validated and can easily be shown to other parents or teachers to stress this importance." --Jennifer Miller
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"I only wish that this book would be as popular in schools as Beers previous book was. Unfortunately, the education industry does not put priority on personal meaning in learning, so I think that this is a book that will have to be pushed out by individual teachers and leaders in schools, as well as involved parents. Within the first couple of chapters, Beers sets out why reading even matters- beyond the basic ability to find answers in text. After all, the best readers are usually ones that were read to as children, who saw their own parents or other family members reading for pleasure, and who read for pleasure themselves. And why do they read for pleasure? Because reading has meaning beyond their test scores. Going further, Beers also reminds us that contemporary careers and careers of the future do not want employees that can just repeat back information; they want employees that can make meaning out of what they read, make connections, and create their own ideas from what they have read.
This is an enjoyable read for teachers, school leaders, and parents alike. I especially like it as motivational summer reading for teachers that are getting ready to return to school." --Mom to 2 Boys
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About the Author
Robert Probst, Ed.D., is an author and consultant to schools nationally and internationally. He speaks to administrators and teachers on literacy improvement, particularly issues surrounding struggling readers and meeting standards. Bob is Professor Emeritus of English Education at Georgia State University and has served as a research fellow for Florida International University. He has served as a member on the Conference on English Board of Directors, an NCTE journal columnist, and a member of the NCTE Commission on Reading. In 2004 he was awarded the NCTE Exemplary Leadership Award presented by the Conference on English Leadership.
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The book is in divided into four parts but the last part of the book departs with a different purpose from the rest of the book and is more of a rant or a plea to change the curriculum and way we teach reading (as if everyone according to them is still teaching round-robin, etc.).
There are no specific strategies for teaching ELLs or students with disabilities which would make a great follow-up edition.
Overall, well worth reading as a new or experienced teacher-- these authors are out there doing important work to guide kids to disrupt their thinking during challenging times in education. Rating 4.5
Beers and Probst challenge the current belief that reading instruction needs to be directly led by the classroom teacher. With the increased emphasis on standardized testing (PARCC for those of us living in states where used) I have noticed that reading instruction has shifted in recent years from independent engagement with texts to using the text to cite evidence. That is, the purpose of reading has largely become more about searching for sources to support a claim than reading for enjoyment.
Additionally, if you are looking to justify silent reading in your classrooms or departments, Beers and Probst explain how it promotes literacy. Having taught English at both middle and high schools, I have from time to time felt the need to defend silent reading against misconceptions that it is a waste of instructional time. As you will see, nothing could be further from the truth.