Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Volume of Reading Matters!

“Without any reading time in class, too much homework, and little choice provided in reading material or writing topics, Sarah keeps her reading life alive in spite of school, not because of it. Our children shouldn't have to wait for adulthood to become wild readers. For many, it will be too late.” 
-Donalyn Miller Reading in the Wild

This past Friday, we had a staff development on the essentials of the reading and writing classroom. We looked at what research says and came up with our essentials for literacy, one of which being that the time spent reading and writing is incredibly valuable.

We acknowledged that the more kids read, the better readers will become! We talked about ways to incorporate independent reading time in our classroom. Some teachers replaced bell work with time spent reading. Others, give students 30 minutes to read independently after their mini-lessons. Some explained that they struggle to find time in the day, especially those departmentalized teaching reading, writing, and social studies. This led to a discussion on content integration, which I will save for a future post!

At a training I attended a last week, they shared the chart below. I wish I could credit the author but they did not share the source. However, I listed some research below that supports the findings. It shows that the kids in the highest achievement percentile are reading remarkably more than the kids in the lowest percentile. There are multiple researchers that support learning to read by reading and have found this correlation between time spent reading and reading achievement.

The big question is HOW. How can we fit in time to read when we have all of this other stuff to teach?

Before we get to that HOW lets look first at the WHAT. What can we eliminate in order to make independent reading a priority in our classroom? 

Some solutions we came up with were:
-Eliminate busy work (worksheets, workbooks, test prep, etc.)
-Eliminate isolated tasks, such as D.O.L. or other bell work
-Eliminate teaching the TEKS in isolation and work towards integration (within and between subjects!)
-Determine what TEKS are most important for students to learn and prioritize 
-Limit the amount of teacher talk and direct instruction 

So HOW can this be done? First, eliminate. Second, prioritize. 

I referenced an article by Richard Allington (2012), Six Elements of Instruction that EVERY Child Should Experience EVERY Day, that sheds light on prioritizing reading. 

He says that EVERY Child EVERY Day Should-
1. Read something he/she chooses
2. Read accurately
3. Read something he/she understands
4. Write about something personally meaningful
5. Talk with peers about reading and writing
6. Listen to a fluent adult read aloud.

When we set these six elements as instructional goals, we prioritize reading in the classroom and can eliminate the excess tasks and assignments. 

Mrs. Raney posts these six on her board and has it more as a reading contract with her kids. She makes this promise to them and they hold her accountable. The day she skips a read aloud, her kids will let her know. They value their time reading. And let me tell you, her kids are vivacious readers. They dive into books, eager to talk and discuss with peers. This excitement for reading is contagious. She has struggling readers in her room, but because they are so engaged, she is able to reach their reading needs much more easily. Also, the peer interaction supports all levels of reading. She teaches so many TEKS within one Reading Workshop. And it all starts with setting priorities. 

Comment below with what helps you set time aside in your classroom for independent reading. 

Professional Books You Might Enjoy: 
Photo credits: Amazon.com

More Resources:

Anderson, C.R., Wilson, P.T., & Fielding. (1988)  Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school. Reading Research Quarterly, 23 (3), p 285-303. 

Cunningham, A. & Stanovich, K. (2003). Reading makes you smarter. Principal, 82(2). 

Cullinan, B.E. (2000). Independent reading and school achievement. Research Journal of the American Association of School Librarians, 3

Samuels, S.J. & Wu, Y. How the amount of time spent on independent reading affects reading achievement: A response to the national reading panel

The Effects of Independent Reading on Reading Achievement

Million Words Campaign 

Individualized Daily Reading Research

Research Evidence for Independent Reading and Reading Achievement 

Miller, D. Help Your Students Find Time to Read 

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