A few months ago, I wrote this post about what changes I’ve made in my reading program execution this year. It’s now the beginning of May, and it’s worthwhile to check back in to see the long-term impact of my changes.
Reading Workshop Model
Most CI folks who do reading programs recommend that the teacher read alongside the students, which is what I did the first 2 years. This year with my level 1s, I switched to coaching the students instead of reading, and I love it, even months later when most students are succeeding. I don’t do it with my level 5s. They don’t need it. But I’d probably do it with level 2 and 3 as well.
First of all, because of the coaching, my students are reading better, more quickly, and with more enjoyment than in previous years. I’ve printed out each class roster in a blank spreadsheet grid. I write down the date in the columns, and take notes about what book students are reading, whether they are succeeding, and I note any distractions. I use this information to grade students via my version of Tina Hargaden’s Habits of Strong Readers Rubric. It’s really useful to have the roster printed, because I can visually see who I haven’t checked in with in awhile.
I just love having these conversations one-on-one about reading. Lots of times, it’s just coaching kids on using context clues, or reading until the end of the sentence before using the glossary to look a word up. But many times, I’m blown away by how smooth a reader is reading, sometimes with students who don’t participate during normal class time. It’s great to see them succeeding.
I’m also so much more aware of who needs to get an easier book. It only takes 15 seconds or so of a student floundering to stop them and have a productive conversation about choosing a more appropriate book. I’ve told the entire class a million times that they need to choose books that are easy to understand, but it’s just not enough. A 1-on-1 conversation is the only thing that works well sometimes.
It also increases my opportunities to recommend new/next books for students based on these short conversations about which books they’ve liked and why.
It’s just wonderful! I highly recommend teachers at least experiment with the reading workshop model during SSR for a month or so, even if you end up going back to model reading or a mixture of model reading and coaching.
I had wonderful classes today. I wanted to take some time to expose new books to students (And I also wanted an easy Friday after being at the school late last night for language honor society inductions). We’ve been reading for a few months now, and most students have read 3-5 books. I also regularly ask students to share about what they are reading so others learn about what books are available.
But there’s nothing quite the same as just getting 4 or 5 new books in their hands to flip through. So that’s just what we did. In stead of reading today, we had a browsing bonanza. They grabbed 3 new books they thought looked interesting, and spent the 10 minutes checking them out.
I also looked at what titles were best and handed out a bunch of titles. I gave Felipe Alou to all the baseball and softball players. I gave Frida Kahlo to all the art students. I gave my anthology of Invisibles stories to the students who show the most excitement in inventing characters and stories. I gave Conexiones to the students who excelled in the geography unit. I gave La Llorona to my soccer players. I gave Carl No Quiere Ir A México to my dog lovers. I gave Santana to all my band students. I had such a blast running around the room channeling my best Oprah impression: You get a book! You get a book! EVERYBODY GETS A BOOK!
Afterwards, we got in groups by friends to debrief.
And the result: I had 4 students request unprompted to check books out to take home. When asked if they had found a more interesting book to switch to, 2/3 of the class raised their hands. And that’s all in addition to the wonderful, positive connections students were making about reading as they chatted with their friends about new and interesting books.
The more experience I get as a CI teacher, the more convinced I am that SSR is the most efficient, most valuable portion of class. It’s when our students learn the most and the best. And there is little more that warms my heart than chatting excitedly about a book with one of my students!