You are shifting my paradigms all over the place. That's what I feel like saying today as I look over my notes. You see, yesterday, and the day before I went to a reading conference in the southern part of my state. I went to this conference last year and came away the same as I feel today. Overwhelmed with ideas. Because it is only a two-day, it feels like speed dating (I haven't ever done it so I am assuming). So instead of choosing potential suitors with a snap judgement, you go from speaker to speaker to speaker and quickly decide what you will use in your own room.
My favorite speaker is Lester Laminack (author of Saturdays and Teacakes, Jake's 100th Day of School, Snowday and two others I can't think of right now). The really big idea I came away with is keeping students engaged in reading (Lester called it residency, not tourism).
I have this really cool set of leveled readers in my room, and I am starting to question how much I use them. Lester made the point that they (leveled readers) are an accelerant. Once the students catch fire, then they can move to more engaging texts, because there is no need to add fuel once the fire is going. I agree in some ways because no one becomes someone who feels empty without a book to read (that's me) by reading leveled readers or basals all the time. On the other hand, the books are developed for instruction in specific skills (that the students need). Stopping the use of leveled books entirely once the students are at a certain point in their reading doesn't make sense to me. I am sure I will figure it out, and make it work for my class.
One of the best things about teaching is learning new things and making changes. Now if I can just come up with an idea that will make other teachers go, "Hmmm, I will have to try that," I will be rich.