My Day With Donalyn Miller

9 Mar

As soon as I heard that all middle school Humanities teachers would get to hear Donalyn Miller present on “Creating An Engaging Reading Culture” I was giddy with excitement. I had read The Book Whisperer  and  bought my own copy. I’d borrowed Reading in the Wild from the library and found it inspiring, too. But to see her in person…that was taking things to a whole new level.

I won’t transcribe my notes for you, just let me say, I was not disappointed. She was really funny – teaching middle school tends to give you a great sense of humor – and very practical. Every thing she talked about was eminently doable. She also provided some talking points for a difficult decision I made recently.

We are a one-to-one school. Every student has been issued a Chromebook. This was more an issue of physical space than access to technology. We are bursting at the seams and gave up our computer labs this year to add more classrooms. To compensate for this loss, the school district made us a one-to -one school. It has been a blessing in many ways, but it presents dilemmas as well.

Right from the start of the year, I have let students read on their Chromebooks. For the most part, there have been no problems. Yes, a few kids play games, or do homework when they are supposed to be reading, but at this point in the year, I know those who are most likely to do so and keep a close eye on them. My biggest concern has been the amount of screen time students are getting. I’ve stewed about this and last week I announced my plan to the kids: when we return from Spring Break, all independent reading will require a print book. Surprisingly, few kids complained.

In my gut, I knew this to be a good decision, but I lacked the research to back it up. Today, I got it. According to Donalyn Miller, multiple studies has shown that students in one to one programs read less. YIKES! There is a flow to reading a print text that does not happen when reading on a laptop –  people read differently online, skimming and scanning, rather than reading for deeper understanding.

That information alone would have  been enough to make the day great, and it came in the first part of the morning and more good stuff was yet to come. I am going back to school this morning energized and excited to tell my students about the great day I had and begin applying some of what I learned.



12 Responses to “My Day With Donalyn Miller”

  1. Michelle @litlearningzone March 9, 2017 at 5:40 am #

    Hearing Donalyn is a gift, right? She is quite simply funny, smart, and amazingly talented. So happy to hear that you have research to back up the WHY behind your choice to encourage print text. It sure makes sense. Thanks for sharing some of your learning and thoughts with us! Happy reading!

  2. lindabaie March 9, 2017 at 6:07 am #

    I’ve seen Donalyn present several times and it is always full of inspiration and information. Glad you heard what you’d been thinking already. Wise teacher!

  3. Diane Anderson (newtreemom) March 9, 2017 at 6:38 am #

    I know what you are talking about. I recently heard Donalyn at Butler University in Indianapolis, and amazingly, I will be in a conference with her again this Saturday when she presents fro our district literacy event.

  4. arjeha March 9, 2017 at 7:26 am #

    Donalyn is inspiring. As you said, she gives practical, doable advice.

  5. terierrol March 9, 2017 at 7:32 am #

    I agree. I love reading, but not on line. Thank you for the research that says students should not be doing so either.

  6. Tara Smith March 9, 2017 at 9:02 am #

    Donalyn Miller is a treasure…good to know about this research, too.

  7. pamlingelbach March 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

    Listening to her present is always awesome. She, Teri Lesene, and Penny Kittle always leave me money poor but new title rich!

  8. MEdmonson March 9, 2017 at 2:50 pm #

    I was fortunate to hear her speak last year. What a pleasure! She was very inspiring.

  9. isbergamanda March 9, 2017 at 4:29 pm #

    I would love to hear Donalyn Miller speak! I wish she would come to my school here in Venezuela. I’ve read Reading in the Wild and The Book Whisperer and found so many great ideas. I’m curious to know what suggestions she had for you to implement the 1-to-1 ipads during literacy time while still balancing the time that students should have hard copies of books in their hands?

    -Amanda at

    • Adrienne March 9, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

      Essentially she said all reading at school should be print, esp. if it it a book. Chromebooks are great for research & writing but for serious lose yourself in the story reading ( and comprehension), it has to be a book.

  10. room311news March 9, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

    SOOOOOO jealous! I would love to have been there! She is phenomenal and changed my way of teaching reading! Thanks for the post!

  11. mrssurridge March 9, 2017 at 5:55 pm #

    So jealous! I can’t quote Donalyn, but I have never heard her speak. I can only imagine how rewarding your day was. I am in a one-to-one school also, but my students are young and I have been very careful not to let them know there are digital books available. I’ve always thought that was a selfish, but now I know it is good practice! I’d so much rather watch my students curled up with a good book during reading workshop than with their face in a computer screen.

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