Building a Culture of Reading

Day One Sets the Tone

Providing daily class time to read shows students that we value their regular engagement with reading. . .  Just ten minutes of daily reading can have a significant impact.” (29)
Start right away to get to know students as readers and learn what they need” (30)
Gallagher, Kelly, and Penny Kittle. 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents. Heinemann, 2018.


After a quick welcome, Orem Jr. students started their first day of school with a book browse.  Piles of books sat on each table, and as students rotated, they added titles to the list of books they’d like to read.  One class coordinated with the teacher librarian who brought in books organized by genre.

What did you do this last week to encourage a love of reading in your students?

Day 1 book browsing at Orem Jr.

8 Things for a Learner-Focused Classroom

8Things for Today's Classroom - Couros


One of the most influential blog posts I’ve read was this one by George Couros, “8 Things to Look for in Today’s Classroom.”  Sylvia Duckworth’s use of SketchNote, adds a powerful visual to support the elements explained in the post.  As classrooms become more learner-focused, these eight characteristics should be evident to any observer.  With these elements come motivation, engagement, and those crucial 4 C’s — communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.  Could notes like these be an option for students who may not think and write in traditional formats?  How many of these crucial elements could someone observe in your classroom?

Just Start!

Lead Learner

Sometimes, it’s that blank sheet of paper or computer screen that’s the obstacle.  Other times, it’s the worry about what to say that others would value.  In the end, it’s about just starting.  It’s about reflecting, sharing, and challenging yourself to grow as an educator.  So that’s what Crucial Connections is all about for me.  It’s about sharing what I’ve learned from so many in my professional learning network or PLN.  It’s about connecting with others beyond the walls of a classroom, beyond the walls of your school — it’s those crucial connections with others who share your passion for teaching and learning.  So, to that end, I’m beginning my reflective journey, and it will be public.  It’s what we ask of our students . . . so let’s be brave and write with them.

The Reflective Journey

As teachers, we all understand the crucial need for building connections with our students.  We listen carefully so that we can understand their passions and interests, their abilities and ways of learning, and the things that make them unique.  As a digital generation, our students are connected in ways that weren’t imaginable when I was starting my teaching career or even in the past few years.

The digital culture affects every aspect of today’s society, and as educators, that creates an intriguing challenge.  How have these changes impacted instruction?  What must be done differently to engage our students in relevant and meaningful work?   For me, finding answers means that I have to ask questions, read, reach out to others in my professional learning network, and reflect.  Through that process, I realized that my most important role is to be a learner first.  To model that learning means that I must do things that scare me just a bit — like writing a blog.  Yet taking those risks and being part of a connected learning community are what’s necessary for growth — for doing things differently than they’ve been done in the past.  Why?  The question that drives me comes from a North Carolina State University MOOC (massive, open, online course)  called “Leading the Digital Transition.”   Their essential question continues to drive my learning:  “What are the most important ways we need to change K-12 education to prepare students for the global, digital, information world in which they will live?”

What would your response be?

To learn what other educational thought leaders have said, watch “Preparing Students for the World in Which They’ll Live.” (8:04)  How did their answers compare to yours?