By Kristina Harris, Apryl Thompson, and Anne Folsom
Within a reading workshop how many minutes are students reading? This year has brought a return to consistent, in-person learning environments for most students. Teachers have worked hard to create these learning environments through consistent routines that leverage learning to build independence. The last few years have brought a need to adjust instruction to meet the needs of an even wider range of students. As you examine the needs of your classroom and the promise of grade level learning, we encourage you to consider the balance you are creating. “Children need time to read — a lot of time. Time spent reading contributes to reading achievement in ways that simply doing worksheets or other activities does not” (Allington, 2002; Foorman et al., 2006). Look at the categories below from your students eyes. How are your readers building stamina in their texts? Consider ways for them to read, take a little break, and jump back into a book.
Structure and Environment- Consider how students access books. A robust classroom library builds excitement and interest in books. Students will have the option to read books that meet their needs, interest and purpose. Book boxes contain a variety of text, some for fluency, some for print work, some for student interest and choice. Students have more device access than ever before and you will want to consider how ebooks are assigned or accessible to students. One caution: ensure students are actually reading, not just listening to books.
Books- Can students find books on topics that they think are interesting?
Are the books student access “just right” for them? I’m thinking of the wide range of readers you probably see in your classroom right now. Students will want to spend time in a variety of text types. Decodable texts allow students to apply the foundational skills they have learned. They are using the spelling rules to decode within a controlled environment. Predictable texts enable students to move from that controlled print work to a text that will have more engaging comprehension work. Level readers typically have richer story lines, better characters or exciting information. And lastly, think about choice or library books. Students want to read, and even just look at, texts on topics that interest them, that come in a variety of formats, that they can share with friends, and that they can learn from.
Proficiency Scales to Drive Purpose- As students head off to independent reading you may want to engage them in a purpose for reading. For years schools have used close reading as a lens for readers to examine text through. These practices can guide students' thinking about a text. Think "Notice & Note." Students engage in book clubs or collaboration that allows them to be accountable to their group as they have conversation and dig into books. Some independent reading with sticky notes or opportunities to write about reading can also be a purpose. And sometimes, kids deserve a chance to read and enjoy something they’ve picked on their own just for the sheer joy of reading.
Goals, Logs, Journals- Get to know your students' reading habits through interest surveys either for students or families. Reading logs can be a great visual way for kids to track what they have read and get them reading more. Student Friendly Proficiency Scales can help students evaluate their own progress in reading skills.
Curriculum & Instruction