Pause to Reflect…
What does the reading classroom in your school look like? Are bookcases filled with books? Are baskets of books set around the room? Are book talks occuring? Do kids talk about books? Do kids share their books?
In my classroom on Friday, a first occurred. One student turned to another and said, “You should get this book and read it with me. It’s really good.”
Imagine that. An impromptu bookclub starting right in the reading classroom. How did that happen?
Students in my classroom read. They read their own texts — texts they have chosen: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, magazines (hunting, motorcycles), etc. Everyday they have at least ten minutes of time to read, and it’s the “I’m done” activity for the school. They take their books to every class, just in class they say, “I’m done.”
It was a struggle at first. They would come each week with a different book with barely even starting the last one. They’d pretend to read. So, at first, I asked them to write to prompts like “What happened in your story today?” “How is the character like someone you know?” “What part do you like in your book today?”
So, most of the year, students have had twenty minutes of choice reading three days of the week, with at least 10 minutes on the other two days. They maintain a daily reading log of title/pages read and a booklog for finished books. On some days, they respond to prompts based on our reading lessons. Some days, but not all.
I wanted kids to read, to read to learn the joy of reading, to read to find connections to themselves in the choices they make.
Probably half of my students had never read a book on their own. Now, all of them have read at least one, many have read five or more. And they’re recommending books to each other. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a favorite. Hunger Games tops the list for the older students. Some now have genre preferences: realistic fiction, nonfiction history, nonfiction science, sports stories, graphic novels. That has never happened before either.
And some students now read science books in preparation for their choice in science investigations– without a suggestion, and well in advance of the project.
Kids choosing books.Kids recommending books to other kids. Kids starting their own bookclubs.
Play to Learn…
So what about those pacing calendars, objective-based lessons, pull-out interventions, and endless tests?
Something more important is happening in my classroom. Students choose to read. They ask to read. And now, some are choosing to read and share together, and they are choosing to read for class before a project starts.
Isn’t it time,
we added time,
to just let them read.