The Reading Teacher

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Today I received my November/December 2015 copy of The Reading Teacher and I got to do something I haven’t done in a VERY long time…read it (well, at least the first article)!

The journal begins with an article by Linda Gambrell titled Getting Students Hooked on the Reading Habit.  Click here to download your copy of the article:  Gambrell-2015-The_Reading_Teacher

Getting students to take on the reading habit is something I am passionate about so I was extremely interested in what Linda’s suggestions were.

Here are my favorite research quotes:

  • It is important that we recognize we have two equally important reading goals: to teach our students to read and to teach our students to want to read. p. 259
  • Teaching students specific reading skills is important, but it is equally important to give them the time and opportunity to read so that they develop a love of reading. p. 259
  • There are a number or research-based practices that are critical to supporting students’ motivation to read.  p. 259 (my summary: materials, opportunities, and social interaction)
  • A national survey from Scholastic (2015) found:  33% of participants ages 6-17 had a designated time during the school day to read a book of their choice, and only 17% reported they had independent reading everyday. p. 260
  • School plays a bigger role in reading books for pleasure for students in lower income homes. p. 260

Here is what the article suggests we can do in classrooms:

  • Focus on more authentic literacy tasks and activities. p. 260

Here are ways suggested to encourage authentic literacy:

  • paired students with an adult pen pal who wrote letters about the shared text and posed higher-order questions:
    • Let me know what you think about…
    • I’ll be interested to know if you agree with…
  • Have students summarize and share Book Tweets.
  • Have activities be high interest and moderately challenging.

Overall, I thought the research was strong in this article but the action steps left me thinking…what else can I do?  I think that motivating students to read looks different from class to class and student to student.

The first thing we need to do is look at how we spend our students time.  One of the implementation changes we have made in the classrooms I work in was move from 30 minute to 20 minute reading groups.  This allows our neediest readers time to meet with me (the Reading Specialist), the classroom teacher, and still have time for independent reading daily.  I was happy to read that all the research presented in this article supports this instructional change.

Here a few things I have done recently to encourage authentic literacy tasks in the classrooms I work in:

  • 3rd grade – we were studying author’s purpose last week and had students write one piece a day with a different purpose in mind: Persuade, Inform, or Entertain.  Then, on the 4th day students picked their favorite piece and were filmed reading it out loud.  These clips were made into a video and shared with the class who had to decide on each author’s purpose by recording it on a sheet of paper.  The smiles, laughter, and correct responses were amazing!
  • 4th grade – to moving away from printing out graphic organizers (which are not authentic) I show students how to quickly sketch organizers they need on any sheet of paper.  Last week students used Venn Diagrams to compare and contrast characters in different books.  The Venn Diagram below is from one of our most struggling students who took this task on independently using his guided reading books…YAY!  He cut up post it notes to put on his diagram probably because I used post it notes in my class model.

Venn Diagram

  • 5th grade – we have been using KidBlog to connect with different classrooms across the US who are reading the Global Read Aloud book Fish in a Tree.  Last week students logged onto other classroom boards, read students’ posts, and responded to them.  Students are also working in research groups (3-4 students in a group) where they chose the research topic that was of interest to them.  Now they meet daily prior to reading workshop to check in and assign roles for the day to be completed during independent reading time.

So, what do you do in your classroom to support authentic literacy? Please share below!

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