Independent Reading (Due 3/22)
After reading, “Using Interest Inventories with Struggling and Unmotivated Readers”
By Arleen P. Mariotti, I chose to administer the reading interest inventory entitled “My Feelings About Reading”, http://re5710.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/interest-inventories-1.pdf.
This inventory was perfect for my first graders, students circled a smiley face that matched how their feelings toward each question. I thought that this was a user friendly and age appropriate way for my students to express their feelings on a variety of reading interest questions. I was happy to see students that every one of my students believes he/she is a great reader! On the other hand, it was sad to learn that many students’ inventories show that they do not read at home very often. Each of my students reported that they enjoy being read to. This made me think about how read-alouds in school are not only an important part of reading development, but they are also an enjoyable part of our students’ day. I pulled in students in small groups to complete a more in depth discussion. Students shared their favorite genres, strengths in reading, their concerns, and their needs/wants. At the beginning of the school year, I administered the Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (McKenna & Kear, 2003). My students enjoyed this reading attitude survey and they thought Garfield’s expressions were so funny. I believe that using reading interest inventories is a safe way for shy students to express their true feelings. It is important that students feel comfortable and know that they can be completely honest on their inventory.
I enjoyed looking at all of the different, informative websites. I particularly enjoyed the Simply Science Blog http://simplyscience.wordpress.com/. There were several great science books listed complete with photos, approximate grade levels, synopsis, and activities that correlate with each book. I even found a book that I would love to use in an upcoming Earth Day lesson, Filling the Earth with Trash By Jeanne Sturm. I also loved the following website: http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2011/03/graphic-novels-for-kids-make-comic-books-accessible-to-all/. I wasn’t aware that there were so many excellent comic-strip-style books available for beginning readers. Many of my first graders love the graphic novel format but the text is often too difficult for them. I just ordered Otto’s Orange Day A Toon Book by Frank Cammuso and Jay Lynch!
In regards to my classroom library, the number of texts has increased significantly over the past three years. I have spent lots of time searching for good deals on books at local stores and online. Some of my colleagues who teach upper elementary have given me books that appear to be too easy or babyish and do not appeal to their students. My school’s PTO has been generous at the providing classrooms with lots of new books on a regular basis over the past few years. I also have a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction big books with large pages and large print that my first graders love. National Geographic for Kids and TIME for Kids magazines are popular genres in my classroom library. The boys in my class seem to gravitate more toward nonfiction books, while many of the girls seem to prefer more fiction books. My classroom library has about 60% fiction and 40% nonfiction. However, the percentage of nonfiction books in my classroom library is steadily increasing because of an abundance of Scholastic books orders, parent donations and frugal shopping skills. J I try to stay on top of my students’ interests and keep these in mind while making book purchases. One thing that I am missing in my classroom library is a wide variety of books on tape/c.d. Students need to be exposed to rich book language that is not in many of their independent leveled first grade text. Books on tape/c.d. would provide students with a fluent model of reading and exposure to rich book language. I have some in my classroom library, but not nearly enough.
To enter the classroom library, you walk between two large, long bookshelves that end at a wall of big books. Chapter 2 describes the importance of book displays. I really enjoy displaying books and trying to “sell” them to my students. Luckily, my bookshelves are not too high; they are right at my students’ eye level, which is ideal. I have clear bins that hold books facing out so that students can see their covers. My big books are also held in large clear bins so that students can see their covers as well. On each clear, plastic book bin, I have genre labels. My students really enjoy placing books into the correct genre bins. They are constantly asking me, “can I check and make sure the books are in the right bins?” I am so glad that they take pride in keeping our library accurate. Within my classroom library I have a table with two big book bins on top and one on each side. Under the table I have a rug, pillows, and a little poster, “what to do when you come to a tricky word”, which is taped underneath the tabletop. My students love reading underneath the table, so I added another “comfy spot” like this one across the room. Beside this reading area, I added another bookshelf full of clear plastic bins to display more books. There are also books and tape/c.d. players so that students can listen to books on tape. I also have a large disc chair with baskets of books surrounding them. My students love utilizing the “comfy spots” I created. They also create their own, such as underneath my easel. My students are usually more engaged in reading when they are in their own little area, instead of seated at their desk. (Hepler & Hickman, 1982) describe how classroom environments can be created so that students are engaged with books, in ways that create communities of readers.
We have t-shirts and posters on the wall beside our library, reminding students how to choose “just right” books, we call this the T-shirt strategy”, which is similar to the “Goldilocks Rule (Taberski, 2000). Chapter 3 suggests that during the 30 minute reading block, younger students could read independently for 15 minutes and read with a partner for the additional 15 minutes. Many of my first graders have been practicing this suggested time frame, but as they constantly grow as readers I am seeing changes. These are wonderful changes. Many students are getting so caught up in their independent reading they are choosing not to read with a partner everyday. However, as soon as they finish their book, they want to find the closest friend and tell them all about their book. I have a few students who cannot seem to stop themselves from interrupting my small reading groups to tell me all about a book they just finished. It usually begins with, “Ms. Durham, did you know…?” In my classroom, each student has a reading response folder. They are allowed to write or illustrate how they wish to respond to their book. During mini lessons I give students a focus for reading time but they are always allowed to respond additionally in other meaningful ways. I love reading conferences so that I can learn more about each student’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests. My students love using iMovie to record their summaries/responses to their books and sharing it with friends. While reading Chapter 4 I was excited to see the responding with drama portion, especially “Hot Seat”. My students adore this response to reading activity and so do I. They get so serious about it, they think hard about the characters and events so that they can portray it in a way their classmates will understand. It’s so much fun and a meaningful reading response activity!
While reading Chapter 5, I kept thinking about the content area books I have in my classroom library. I have a wide variety of books within the math, science, and social studies content areas. However, I think that these books are best suited for read-alouds, especially with my first graders. Even if they are able to read these books independently, they usually have so many questions about the content, which is a result of their limited background knowledge on these content areas. I love building background knowledge about a content area through read-alouds and then having whole group discussions. The books that teachers read-aloud are usually coveted by students afterward, so why wouldn’t educators want students to re-read a book about the content presently being taught?
Through the conversations during the small group reading inventory discussions, I found that many students really wanted to listen to more books on tape/c.d. I knew that this was lacking in my classroom library but I had no idea how many students wished that this was more accessible. This is what I will request on my Donor’s Choose account. Within the next few months, I may be studying abroad so I contacted Donor’s Choose to ask a few questions and I was advised not post a request yet. This is because there is a chance that donors would still be contributing to my project when in fact I may not have a classroom within the next couple of months or by the time my project is completely funded, which would violate their terms. If I am still a practicing teacher next year, I will post this request on Donor’s Choose immediately, along with other needs of my current students. What a wonderful site!
After reading, I have gained several great ideas that I will be implementing into my classroom. Creating Lifelong Readers Through Independent Reading by Barbara Moss and Terrell A. Young is a great resource. I particularly enjoyed reading about the ideas on reading response activities through: art, drama and technology. I also appreciated the reproducibles for the classroom. In Appendix B there are also reproducibles for parents, which give great suggestions. Independent reading is so crucial to students’ reading development. We cannot expect students to make significant growth in reading if we do not give them time to read independently.
Trends were found among fourth graders in 35 countries by the 2001 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. They discovered that only 35% on fourth graders in the United States read for fun on a daily basis and 32% of U.S. fourth graders reported that they never read for fun away from school. (Allington, 2006) suggests that students read independently during the school day for 90 minutes or more. (Anderson, Wilson and Fielding, 1998) describe that students make improvements in reading as they engage in independent reading. Their studies show that the students who read independently for an hour each day scored in the 98th percentile on standardized tests. However, the students who did not read at all outside of school, scored in the 2nd percentile.
While it is important that students have access to lots of books and various forms of print, (Moss and Young 2010) state that, “access to books is not enough, however. Students need books with appeal”. The students who chose not to read are often times the same students who have difficulty reading. (Moss and Young 2010) explain that these readers “associate reading with failure, tedium and struggle. As a result, they don’t get the practice they need, they don’t find pleasure in reading, and they never become accomplished readers, let alone lifelong readers”. Teachers need to ensure students are allowed time to practice the skills they are taught. (Pearson, 2005) states, “all the explicit instruction in the world will not make strong readers unless accompanied by lots of experience applying their knowledge, skills, and strategies during actual reading”.
(Block & Pressley, 2007) describe that students’ independent reading experiences should involve books at their recreational reading level that the teacher has introduced and that are related to classroom topics or themes. (Allington, 1994) states that when students are reading a wide variety of books that are of interest to the student, this is “the most potent factor in the development of reading processes”. Most educators understand the value of students being interested in the materials they read. If their choices are limited within our classroom libraries, we are doing an injustice to our students. The classroom libraries should be a place to cultivate lifelong readers. (Hepler & Hickman, 1982) describe how classroom environments can be created so that students are engaged with books, in ways that create communities of readers. (Routman, 2003) “Classroom libraries are a literacy necessity; they are integral to successful teaching and learning and must become a top priority if our students are to become thriving, engaged readers.”
Educators must work hard to help students develop a love and an interest in reading. If students do not, they may choose not read at all because it has never been viewed as a pleasurable experience. (Thomas and Moorman 1983), “The student who can read but chooses not to is probably the most crucial concern confronting our educational institutions today. It is not illiteracy we are combating, but aliteracy”. This is something that can be prevented with appropriate instruction and exposure to meaningful texts.
(Moss and Young, 2010) build upon and extend principles created by (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001) for classroom-based independent reading experiences. (Moss and Young, 2010) believe that the following should be included within an independent reading program:
-supportive reading environments
– access to interesting books and reading materials
– structured time for engaging with texts
– active engagement by teachers
– family and community connections
In Dr. Frye’s powerpoint, she states, “in matching students to instructional-level texts, the teacher aims to increase students’ word recognition automaticity and comprehension (including literary analysis), as well as improving their motivations for reading and academic self-esteems.” I have learned the importance of giving students a variety options to respond to their reading. My students are given reading response choices but these options could be expanded. My first graders never cease to amaze me with their intellect and creative ways to express their understanding of a story. While reading this week, I thought a lot about my students’ independent reading habits and what I do to help them stay interested. I enjoyed reading about the importance of having a wide variety of interesting reading materials for students. High interest materials are more pleasurable to students and result in their reading for longer time periods (Guthrie & Greaney, 1991). This information reaffirms the significance of using a reading interest inventory to gather important feedback from students. I will continue to use reading interest inventories and pull students in small groups to further discuss their reading interests. Once I discover more about their reading interests, I will use this information to suggest motivating books for students to read, as well as working to provide additional resources as my students’ needs and interests evolve.
Allington, R.L. (2006). What really matters for struggling readers: designing research-based programs (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Anderson, R.C., Wilson, P.T., & Fielding, L.G. (1988). Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school. Reading Research Quarterly, 23(3)., 285-303. doi:10.1598/RRQ.23.3.2
Block, C.C. & Pressley, M. (2007). Best practices in teaching comprehension. In L.B. Gambrell, L.M. Morrow, & M. Pressley (Eds.), Best practices in literacy instruction (3rd ed., pp. 220-242). New York: Guilford.
Fountas, I.C, Pinnell, G.S. (2001). Guiding readers and writers: Teaching comprehension, genre, and content literacy. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Frye, B. (2012). Silent reading: classroom implications . Unpublished manuscript, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC. Retrieved from http://re5710.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/silentreading.ppt
Guthrie, J.T., & Greaney, V. (1991). Literacy acts. In R. Barr, M.L. Kamil, P.B. Mosenthal, & P.D. Pearson (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (Vol. 2, pp. 68-96). New York: Longman.
Hepler, S.I., & Hickman, J. (1982). “The book was okay. I love you”: Social aspects of response to literature. Theory into practice, 21(4), 278-283.
McKenna, M., & Kear, D. (1990). Measuring attitude toward reading: A new tool for teachers. Reading Teacher, 43(9), 626-639.
Moss, B. & Young, T. (2010). Creating lifelong readers through independent reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Pearson, P.D. (2005, October). Facilitating comprehension. Presentation made to the Delaware Valley Reading Association, Springfield, PA. Retrieved March 16, 2010, from ciera.org/library/presos/2001/2001MRACIERA/pdp/01mrapdp.pdf
Routman, R. (2003). Reading essentials: The specifics you need to teach reading well. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Taberski, S. (2000). On solid ground: Strategies for teaching reading K-3. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Thomas, K.J. & Moorman, G.B. (1983). Designing reading programs. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.
– Stacy Durham 3/20/12