Unit 3: In Practice
Now that students know where to find books and are getting interested in reading, how exactly do we sustain that excitement and encourage reading as a habit?
What are some in-class reading strategies you have heard of or tried?
What were the results?
Getting Ready to Read
You may record notes from the following section in your journal.
Adopt an Author
Here is an activity that straddles the line between the exploring and the doing phases. As students are researching books, they can also research famous authors, with the goal of adopting one as their “patron saint of reading”. Alternatively, students should research literary characters and find one they identify with.
The goal is to select an author or famous character that students identify with on some level. Students can prepare an informative presentation to share with others about their author or character. Students could respond to literary letters as this character, and write as this character. (More on this in later section)
Here is some curriculum regarding having the students do an author study: http://www.readingrockets.org/books/authorstudy/chooseauthor
Time For Reading
Of critical importance is the idea that students have an opportunity to read - most students will not, and some cannot, do this on their own time. That is why we have to restructure our classes to give reading time during the day. We know the power of giving adequate time in class for students to complete work and adequate wait time after asking questions (FEA, 2019), and the same is true for reading. In addition, when we set aside time for reading in class, we are telling students that reading is important.
Learn more about this strategy here: https://readingbyexample.com/2018/07/04/give-them-time-to-read/
Making time in class for reading shows students that reading is important, gets them in the habit of daily reading, and provides some quiet time in an otherwise hectic day when students are not expected to do anything but escape into another world. This activity can go by many names, and some of the most commonly used names are: Silent Sustained Reading (SSR), Drop Everything and Read (DEAR), or Free Uninterrupted Reading (FUR).
Let students see you, the teacher, reading! It will reinforce that this is a valued and lifelong habit, rather than something to pass time in the school day. While students are reading, let them see you reading at the same time. In addition, you can share about the books you are reading and your progress in them. http://www.teachhub.com/how-motivate-students-love-reading
This teacher discusses how she made SSR work for her by reading along with students, creating an honored and designated space for books, selecting books to face out, and many other ideas. https://www.weareteachers.com/how-i-made-in-class-silent-reading-work-for-me/
What Should We Do With What Students Read?
You may record notes from the following section in your journal.
Previous research has indicated that keeping readings logs is something that has turned students off to reading. The following Atlantic article illustrates this well. The allegation is that some of our practices around reading actually discourage students from wanting to read.
What should we do instead? Below are some ideas.
Conferences or meetings
Instead of having students keep track of their reading minutes or write a summary of what they read today, have meetings with individual students to talk about their book. A one-on-one conversation is meaningful to the student and allows the teacher to get an idea of how the student is progressing - is this book too easy, too hard, is the student bored, should you recommend a new book to them? You can start with a general question the student knows about ahead of time, and let the conversation flow from there. If you are using the Literacy Letters described above, you might use this time to sit down with a student and chat about what they wrote in their letter.
More on conferences here: http://www.scholastic.com/bookfairs/readerleader/reading-logs-how-do-you-know-if-theyre-reading
Suggestions for what to do during reading conferences: https://www.centergrove.k12.in.us/cms/lib/IN01000850/Centricity/Domain/24/Reading_Conferences_Suggestions.pdf
This edutopia article details one teacher’s experience with reading conferences and contains external links to resources. https://www.edutopia.org/article/unexpected-power-reading-conferences
Once students have chosen their books, they can write periodic “Literacy Letters” to you. Fisher suggests this is a weekly activity. The students’ letters should address 3 questions:
- The first paragraph answers the question, “What’s going on in the book so far?”
- The second paragraph answers a “Prompt of the week” - this could be “How does your author handle transitions between ideas?” or “How does your author handle tone?”
- Paragraph 3 answers the question, “How could this book be improved?” (this is from Rigorous Reading) Fisher advocates that the teacher then writes back to the student about their book, and this back and forth can continue.
(It must be noticed that Fisher & Frey advocate Independent Reading, in which students choose a book from a list of books that relate to the essential themes of the class, rather than “any book”. A snapshot of Fisher & Frey’s perspective can be found here: https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/fisher-and-frey/documents/reading.pdf)
Rather than writing to the teacher, students can also write to each other about their book. Students can write “in-character” as the famous author they chose. They will be responsible for reading and writing back to another student in class. This gives students an opportunity to share about their books, and to learn about what others are reading.
- Interactive Journal: Students can keep an interactive journal while reading their book. Here are some ideas for setting up a reader’s notebook that students can interact with each day and organize their reading: https://www.outofthisworldliteracy.com/3-steps-to-creating-best-reading/
- Question of the Day: Another strategy is to give a question of the day for the journals. Here are some examples: www.anderson.k12.ky.us/.../Independent%20Reading%20Journal%20Prompts.doc
- More prompts: Here are some more prompts that could be adapted to your class: http://sbo.nn.k12.va.us/library/docs/reader_response_journal_prompts_form.pdf
- Choices: This teacher suggests that students may be given a choice of how to respond to their readings - a sketch, a thinking blob, a letter - each week. This could be done in the journal or collected by the teacher. https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/blog-posts/juan-gonzales/17-18/goodbye-reading-log--5-ideas-on-how-to-keep-readers-accountable/
- Make a list of activities: Students can respond to a prompt, write a letter to the author, draw a picture, write about what’s happening or what they are thinking.
Research has found that it is important for students to socialize around books, especially for boys. (CITE) This site has some helpful suggestions along the lines of socializing around books. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/cultivating-love-reading-students-elena-aguilar
Book clubs, or literature circles, are a great way to allow students to interact and discuss a book. There is choice involved, as students choose from a list; students learn accountability and ownership as each student assumes a different role; and students practice self-regulation and metacognition as they learn to monitor their progress.
Here is an example of a traditional literature circle: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/literature-circles-getting-started-19.html?tab=3#tabs Video of traditional literature circle: https://www.youtube.com/embed/khrmftWESQw Book Clubs for the classroom: https://www.literacytoday.ca/primary/reading/literature-circles/
This teacher prefers to engage students in literature circles with no assigned roles: http://www.funinroom4b.com/2012/04/book-clubs-have-begun.html
A fun activity for students to engage with what they are reading and share their books with others is through making a book trailer.
- Here is an example lesson plan for making book trailers in the classroom. http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/book-report-alternative-creating-c-30914.html?tab=4
- Here is another step-by-step with pictures
- And one more example:
Recommendations for future library
Student recommendations are powerful! Allow students to recommend books to each other throughout the year. This lower-grades teacher uses a book blurb. https://brownbagteacher.com/book-recommendations-student-to-student/ These recommendations for having students share about books are geared toward librarians, but would work in any classroom: https://www.ebscohost.com/novelist/novelist-special/by-students-for-students-book-recommendations-as-readers-advisory Example of a highly structured book talk: https://www.weareteachers.com/what-is-a-book-talk/ At the end of the year, allow students to make recommendations for future students about books that they enjoyed. Students could write these on a colorful card on the wall, or use the word bubble template. You should also solicit ideas for books to look for to add to the library, so students can recommend books for the class library.
Which ideas do you think would work for your classroom? Which are you excited to try out? What are your ideas so far? What barriers, if any, do you anticipate? What are your initial ideas for overcoming those barriers?
Proceed to Unit 4: Product