Independent ReadingThank you to the Two Writing Teachers and the Slice of Life writing community for providing this opportunity to share our "slices." Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to share our work. Check out the other slices and/or join in the fun!
Everything I do, read and interact with lately keeps leading to the same same message: Students need to spend more time independently reading.
The first time I was recently reminded of this topic was last March at the TCRWP's Saturday Reunion at Teachers College....my happy place:). I was sitting in on session with Lucy Calkins and she really made me stop and think. We often hear about the importance of independent reading time and think yea, yea we know. But, wait! This time I really stopped to think about her message. She went on to explain that when we walk past classrooms, we really know our teachers of reading because we walk past their rooms and kids are reading! Hmm. She went on to say that we need to increase the volume of reading that students do during their school day. We spend all this time instructing, but when do they practice? Independent reading time is a time for KIDS to collect their own data. All of this really made me think.
I started to think, would the kids in my room be able to answer these questions?
What do they like to read?
How many pages do they read in a typical sitting?
What do authors do on purpose?
What do they notice about genres?
How does all this reading let them grow?
That moment at that time about that topic really spoke to me. I went feverishly back to my second graders last year and gave myself the freedom to let go of a few things that Common Core had me all wound up about. I had always been a "teacher of reading" like Lucy mentioned and I prided myself on it. But, I have to admit, the pressures of CCLS and other day-to-day expectations put upon me led me farther and farther from my true passion. I knew that time to just read was something we were all craving.
Fast forward to a few months ago. I was preparing for a small workshop with teachers in my building. In this particular workshop, I shared a Richard Allington video where he spoke to another amazing, yet grim statistic. He went on to say that our most struggling readers spend the least amount of time reading in school. Hmmmm. Wait. What? Holy moly beans. There it was again.
Finally, this past weekend I participated in a #bproots chat on Twitter. We were discussing the IRA position statement on leisure reading. It was so awesome to be part of an important dialogue centered around this topic. If you haven't taken a minute to check out this position statement, try to squeeze in a few minutes to check it out. It isn't necessarily that we don't know this information, but it is best practice to stop and reflect about the topics we care about in the midst of hustle and bustle of our teaching lives. Once again, I found myself reflecting on the importance of independent, leisure reading.
Do we provide enough opportunities for students to read without a pencil? Of course reading, note-taking, post-its, conversation, and all the other best practices certainly do have a spot in our day--a very important spot! But, so does reading for fun.
With so few hours in a day, how do YOU squeeze it in?