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Reflecting on Reading Like a Writer

So I took some time to create a video about the system I created in order to track and reflect on my summer reading. Because I pushed myself to reflect in a new medium, I feel like I dug deeper into the work I’ve done with reading like a writer. (I hope it’s not too boring.) Although I’m very new at creating videos, I know I’m learning more each time and I’m also pleased with how much I learned about myself as a reader and writer because I took the time to create this video.

In a more traditional means of reflection (writing a blog post), I made a list of the things I learned here.

After creating this video, here is a more refined answer to the question: What am I learning from all of this reading?

I have a more intimate understanding of the organic link between reading and writing. As I read, I became a better writer. Because I was reading like a writer, I was driven to write and create and make sense of life by putting words on the page. I was understanding life in new ways through the stories unfolding as I read, but I needed to understand the life I am living by writing. I was intentional about learning the art of writing through my reading. What I didn’t realize was a deeper understanding of key literary elements would emerge.  I wanted to try my hand at the things I was noticing. It is this – the process of attempting to put into practice the different strategies – that made me understand literary elements more personally. Frankly, I have more understanding of literary elements after four months of intentional reading and noticing than I did after years of sitting in English classes throughout high school, college, and graduate school.

Obviously, my little writer’s notebook was a key to this. I was able to toss it in with my other supplies, so when the mood struck, I could try out my learning instantly. When I try it, I have a deeper understanding of the writing process. This is the link that is missing for many students. We can’t just talk about literary elements, pointing them in stories, asking kids to regurgitate answers to questions at the end of each reading if we want our students to have a deep understanding of literature. We must allow the opportunity for them to play with words and develop their own understandings as they write.

Next week I’ll write about how I’m taking my learning even deeper by rereading some of my favorite books to learn the inner-workings of this genre.

8 thoughts on “Reflecting on Reading Like a Writer

  1. I appreciate this video. After reading S. Harvey’s series of books on strategies that work I realize how important it is to teach our students how to connect reading and writing (especially when our understanding breaks down). However, very few teachers truly model what they ask their students to do! You have done this for us and have shown us that even when we are excellent readers and writers that we can still improve when using the same strategies that we teach our kids!


  2. Great video!! I like the way you put it together and used a narrative to explain exactly your process of reading like a writer. I think the genre of video works perfectly here as trying to write out all that you did would have been more difficult to understand. Great job!

    Also, I like that you included text in your post… the two paragraphs that answer your big question really are insightful and helpful to teachers of reading and writing. You are right… there is extreme value and benefit in actually trying out a reading or writing technique; just like that Chinese proverb says: “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.” When students are involved–actually emulating/putting into practice a technique or skill or concept–they are much more likely to understand, develop, and retain knowledge.

    Thanks so much.


  3. I bought up some of those little mini-composition notebooks because they were on sale at Target the other day and now I know what I am using them for!! I did all of my reflecting and jotting in a normal sized composition notebook this summer. Even I got bogged down in that so I was looking at ways to help my students with that. Thanks for yet another great idea! Love the video too. I may be using it in the classroom!!!


  4. Great post and video Ruth – I have been thinking in this direction but you have motivated me to move with it.
    I remember a Kid Writing workshop I attended – Nellie Edge – where they told us to remember that reading and writing are linking actions for young children – adults too!


  5. Well done Ruth! I loved seeing you explain how you used the notebooks and found myself wondering about how I might pull together the scattered threads of things I have going (or wish I had going!). I have a feeling that you are on to something important with not only the reflecting but also in the sharing.


  6. Ruth,
    I love that you infused a bit of technology with this activity. I can see that teachers of middle and high school kids could actually share your video to help kids see how to read like a writer and that there is more to reading than “finishing the book”. Your chosen format blends writer’s notebook with your PDA and computer. That will speak to kids more than teachers just assigning reading and responding. As teachers, we need to keep up with the times to keep our kids engaged. Although your intent may have been to engage teachers of writers, I can see where you can have great impact on students of writing. I can’t wait until you post the next one. I would love to share this with my graduate class as they too will keep writer’s notebooks.


  7. I teach 11th grade English – literature and composition – and I definitely resonated with your reading/writing connection. I wondered, though, what sort of writing fo you do?


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