sustained silent reading

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The Read-Aloud Handbook – What have I learned?

Published August 17, 2013 by Mrs. Malo

I finally finished Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook.  It was nice how he finished the book, and wrapped everything up by telling his own story.  There were two things I highlighted in this chapter.

Personal interest can be a powerful driving force with boys, whether that interest is sports, auto repair, model racing, war, music, or computers. (page 169)

A California professor, once tol me that girls tend to be extrinsically motivated in their reading (favouring the choices of their peers, mom, and teacher), while boys are intrinsically motivated (favouring what they themselves are interested in).  Call it selfish or pragmatic, but guys are drawn more to what interests them, not what interests the crowd.  (page 169)

When I think about this and my class last year it kind of makes sense.  We have a treasure chest in our class and every time I read aloud a book it goes into the treasure chest for students to revisit later.  It is usually the girls who go here to get books.    The boys are less frequently looking for books independently but if I can find a book on something they are interested them, they will spend a much longer time ‘reading’ that book, and usually come to me for another.

So now that I am done reading what have I learned that will affect my teaching practice this year?

  1. I NEED at least 1 read-aloud every day.  I have gone through and taken a long look at my daily schedule.  My ECE and I decided last June that there are some changes we need to make so this is a great time to switch things up.  In the morning we will start with some brain exercises / DPA as we give everyone time to enter and prepare for the day, and then we will go straight to a Read-Aloud.  Sometimes it will connect to a lesson but sometimes it will just be a read-aloud for the fun of reading.  There may be read-alouds at other times throughout the day but we will ALWAYS have one in the morning.  I would like to try and use one book from Trelease’s treasury per week.  Later in the year I would really like to introduce chapter books to my class but we will see how the year goes.
  2. This year we are going to have B.E.A.R. time.  I love this acronym from Pre-K pages that stands for “Be Excited About Reading”.  We have a large class (27 students) so this will take some work.  Our school is on balanced day so we are going to have BEAR time at the beginning of block #3, right after second nutrition break.  I am going to introduce the concept on the very first day by reading Otto the Book Bear by Katie Clemson.  Otto is a character in a book with a special secret – when no one is looking he comes to life.  This is a cute story of how Otto gets accidentally left behind one day and his journey to find a new home.  After reading aloud to the class I will introduce them to our book bear (I am still looking for the perfect stuffed bear).  We will discuss what B.E.A.R. time will look like everyday.  Everyone will get to select a book from the class library and read at their seat.  Because the class is so large we are going to start with everyone reading at their table but hopefully as the year progresses they can select a quiet place in the class to read.  We will also put a bin of books on each table.  If they finish their book they can read one from the bin but not get up and walk around to find a new one, hopefully this will reduce chaos.  The student who is the ‘Star of the Day’ will be able to read with our class book bear.
  3. One of my main goals is going to get the parents to read to their children daily.  I am going to use Trelease’s phamplets that he has available on his websites and send them home at different times throughout the year for the parents.  During September interviews I am going to stress the importance of reading to your child every night.  For the entire first term I am not going to have any homework sent home with my students.  Instead I am going to have families log time that they read-aloud together.  I have read aloud record sheet in their communication folder for parents to record ever time they read aloud with their child.  I found an awesome idea at theteacherswife to use dog tags and beads to track how much each child has read.  I really like this idea, and I could display these in the class using minimal space (wall space is a premium).  I have already started looking for dog tags.
  4. When choosing books to read-aloud I will now be looking at them in a different way.  In the past my primary concern was how the content connected to what we were learning or what I wanted to introduce to the class.  Starting at the beginning of the year my goal is to select books to hook my students and build their attentions.  Next we will work on building vocabulary and background knowledge.  Later in the year I hope to expand into longer picture books and short chapter books.  There is an excellent example of the progression on pages 58 an 59 of The Read-Aloud Handbook.
  5. As students are tracking their reading at home we are also going to track the books we read-aloud in class.  We will make a ‘book worm’ who will curl around our wall/door (haven’t figured out exactly where he will go yet) as a new circle will be added with the title of each book we read.
  6. Finally I would like to create a Newstand in our class to highlight magazines and newspapers as forms of reading.  To help build our collection and create variety I am going to invite families to send in their old/used copies of magazines and newspapers (appropriate ones of course).

I blogged about all this to share my thoughts but also to give myself a check in.  Every couple of months I intend to reflect on how our literacy program is running an I will share our successes and re-thinks.

I really enjoyed this book study, but now that I have spent most of the summer focusing on reading and my literacy program I am going to switch gears.  My next book is Christine Moynihan’s Math Sense as part of the book study hosted by Math Coaches Corner.  I love following her blog and seeing all the ideas she posts so I am looking forward to this book study.

SSR – Reading Aloud’s Natural Partner

Published July 29, 2013 by Mrs. Malo

I know I am playing catch up but still wanted to post my thoughts on Chapter 5.  I am not new to the idea of Sustained Silent Reading.  Before I taught Kindergarten I was a Teacher-Librarian and for a course I took I did a Sustained Silent Reading project (click for attachment).  I know I have a number of great professional books on SSR but as one of my goals this summer is to catalog and organize all my books I was only able to find one: Building Student Literacy Through Sustained Silent Reading by Steve Gardiner.  I love the program and had used it with older grades but it never crossed my mind to use in my Kindergarten class (JK/SK split ages 3-5).  I was happy to read this chapter and it has given me a bit to think about on how I may be able to implement it in my current class.

Key Highlights:

  • “Until it is explained, silent reading is sometimes a mystery to young children.” (page 81) At one point in my education I remember learning about the developmental stage when children are capable of internal thought.  I can’t remember the age or stage but to me it connects to how young children feel like they always need to read out loud.  I need to go back and research a bit to see at what age they are capable of reading ‘in their head’.
  • My analytical mind really appreciated the ‘Fraction of Selection’ illustrations on page 84 and 85.  I thought it was really ironic that as I was reading about the difficulties of distractions my daughters were practicing their tap dancing – just a bit of a distraction!
  • I often see the summer slip with some of my student between JK and SK (they are usually in my class for 2 years).  I really appreciated the comment by Trelease on page 88 that “the better readers don’t take the summer off and thus the gap widens”.  As a parent I use the summer as my opportunity to work with my children myself, and even when we are not doing formal learning we are always exploring.  As a teacher I find it so frustrating that some parents won’t even read with their children over the summer.  Especially when it doesn’t take much: “reading of four to six books during summer was enough to alleviate summer loss” (6th graders)
  • “The teacher stands before the class and daily gives mini-book talks based on the classroom library” (page 101).  Another great idea I need to figure out how to fit in my day.

So I would love to hear how preK and K teachers use SSR in their classroom, please share your ideas.  I am trying to figure out how to implement in my class next month when school starts back.