Thursday, 13 August 2009
Building reading stamina
"This year reading is really boring. Everytime we finish a chapter the teacher gives us a sheet with questions that we have to answer. Last year reading was fun, we made up our own questions and talked in groups about the text."
I was reminded of this conversation I had with a group of year 7 boys when I read Carol Jago's column 'Readers Just Want to Have Fun' in Voices From the Middle. The boys talking I had worked with in grade 6 as a rural primary school. We were using Reading Circles and the students really came to enjoy reading and to see that it could be fun. Yet here they were one year later and turned off reading because it was now a comprehension worksheet exercise.
If we want students to read we first need to get them enjoying reading and wanting to read.
Recently I've been working with teachers to get them to change from silent reading to independent reading. Independent reading where students choose their 'just right' book, read with a purpose, write in their reading journal with the teacher working by conducting reading conferences.
Sometimes the teacher might run a guided reading group during this time.
But the first thing is to get kids to build up their reading stamina. This means being able to concentrate on reading for 30 plus minutes. To really get into the story, which is something struggling readers rarely experience.
In a couple of classes where teachers have insisted on students reading for 30 minutes students have begun to enjoy reading. And they do not read outside of the classroom.
So, first things first, get them reading for a sustained time.