Penny Kittle’s Hidden Lessons

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Penny Kittle, the author of Book Love speaks of her successes with an independent reading program in her classroom that focuses on YA novels. As a future teacher, I see nothing but good coming from this approach. However, those higher up in the education world may question the value of reading for fun, because the ability to pleasure read is not directly related to specific questions on standardized tests. They want to know where the value lies.

While I was reading chapters 3-4 and discussing them with my classmates via Twitter, I had a few realizations. Beyond building reading stamina, Kittle is teaching three very important lessons through her program. I’m sure there are many more, but these were the three things that crossed my mind.

When Kittle goes through the process of helping students establish their reading goal, she is showing them how to set an ACHIEVABLE goal. Their goal isn’t something that they ‘should’ be able to do, and each student has a completely different goal. Knowing how to set a goal for yourself, and then making a plan to reach it is an important skill for any person to have.

Kittle has her students help her maintain the class library. She takes organizational suggestions from them. By doing this, Kittle allows her students to take ownership in their education. She teaches them how to take care of something they are proud of.

Lastly, Kittle teaches time management through her independent reading program. A common excuse for kids and adults alike is “I don’t have the time”. However, Kittle teaches her students that you ALWAYS have time for the important things. She teaches them how to make time in their life for reading. This is a skill that a student could take and apply to so many other parts of their life.

While these skills might not show up on the next state test, I’d like to see someone try to explain why they aren’t important. These are crucial life skills that students will use outside of the classroom and after graduation. Kittle is providing these students with an invaluable skillet. Oh, not to mention the part where she improves students’ reading ability and makes them more receptive to reading! A pretty smart approach if you ask me.

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4 thoughts on “Penny Kittle’s Hidden Lessons

  1. I hadn’t read Kittle because I’m taking this course as an elective, but I still enjoy looking at what other people have taken away from the readings. This is such a great summary of what you have learned. I love the way Kittle has given three main “Life Lessons” because truly every one needs these three things. We have to be able to set goals to achieve them, allow students to take ownership over their learning, and create student that know what time management is. I was taught all of these things, and for that I feel like I was well-equipped to enter the “real world”. Did you receive these lessons in high school?

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    • I would say I picked up a few things indirectly here and there…however I think that these kinds of lessons need to be taught directly. People say you should set goals, but how many people break down exactly how to set a goal? Maybe people think these things don’t need to be explained, but I disagree. We need to build a foundation for the student, otherwise we are setting them up for a very unstable future.

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  2. You point out how Kittle allowing her students to hlep manage the classroom library gives them a sense of responsiablity. Students will take more pride in a task they have control over compared to something they are jsut assigned. Confidence will make stronger readers than required reading ever will.

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