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26 August 2014 @ 05:27 pm
If you build it, they will come  
Donalyn Miller and I co-host a Twitter chat called #bproots. The hashtag stands for Best Practices Roots. It came about after repeated discussions about those important articles and books that some (if not many) folks missed when they first were published. I still remember taking a doctoral seminar from Dick Abrahamson with Kylene Beers and Lois Buckman and several other colleagues. Our task? To go back to the earliest publications of journals such as Horn Book, English Journal, etc. and to collect articles we thought were touchstone pieces. Each week, we would bring xeroxed copies of articles we found as a result of thumbing through back issues (yes, library time every week with rolls of quarters and dimes). Each person would share her or his finds. We would discuss them as a class and then decide if they needed to be in a collections of best.articles.ever. As a result of this course, I had a lovely file of incredible pieces by G. Robert Carlsen, Terry Ley, Donelson and Nilsen, Lou LaBrant, Don Gallo, Bob Probst, Ted Hipple, and other luminaries in the field of books and reading. I still have many of those articles (and I need to scan them one day), and I refer to them often.

I realized, though, that so many folks had not had that same chance to dig back and find their roots. So, Donalyn and I decided to hold a monthly chat centered around a topic or article. Just last night we talked about reading aloud and recommended folks visit Jim Trelease's web site for some background to the discussion (www.trelease-on-reading.com). We wondered who might show up and how the conversation might go. You can access the Storify of the chat (https://storify.com/professornana/bproots-archive-from-august-23-2014) here. People came and talked animatedly for more than the hour long chat. Titles, techniques, questions, ideas flew by (that is one reason we archive the talk so we can go back more leisurely and review the conversation).

I will be honest and note that I was not certain how many might show up for a chat on reading aloud. But as much as I thought I knew about the topic (I have written chapters for two books on the topic and it is included in all 3 of my own books), I learned from the other educators who spoke passionately about reading aloud and sharing books with classes of all ages. People talked about the books they already had lined up to share and then thanked others for suggestions of more titles to add to their stacks.

We shared research both "scientific" and "anecdotal." I use quotes here as air quotes as I do not see that we need to separate the two but there are others out there that demand the scientific over the anecdotal. Some of that research dates back quite a way (Horn Book had a splendid editorial "On Reading Aloud" in its 1911 volume year) and some of it is newer. But we repeat the research so that everyone is ARMED with it and can take it back to others who question the use of reading aloud.

Now Donalyn and I will consult with one another and discuss possible topics for next month. We will pull articles (they have to be available online so all participants can access them easily), decide on one and then post the date (it is traditional to use Saturday evening) and time (traditionally 7 pm Central) and topic and wait to see if they will come again. Please come.
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