Research or no research, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing my class sprawled out over various parts of the classroom, with their nose in a some sort of reading material. I’m not going to lie, on more hectic days, 20 minutes of quiet, hushed atmosphere is balm for the nerves. I honestly think the students appreciate the peacefulness as well!
Independent Reading is where students read alone. In Year 4, most students have reached a point in their reading development where they can choose books on their own interests. That in mind, Independent Reading is different from, and provided in addition to, instructional reading. All students at every age need experience with independent reading at some point to improve their reading fluency. (Cooper, Kiger: 199) I’ve heard some teachers call it Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R) or Sustained Silent Reading (S.S.R.)
Students should be allowed to read anything that interests them, that includes magazines, comics, graphic novels and newspapers. I have given them tips and ideas to help them decide if a text is appropriate for them independently. Right now, I am using the “5 Finger Rule” that I have included here. I honestly can't remember where I got this from! If anyone recognizes it, please put the source in the comments:
Getting these reluctant readers to branch out into chapter books was easier than I thought! The last 5 minutes of Independent Reading was designated for sharing. Students would show a friend what they were reading, usually pointing out their favourite parts or showing whatever interested them about the book. I noticed that the bookworms are naturally good at selling books to the more reluctant readers and soon, I noticed changes in what was in their hands.
Above is the format Book Club, where students are put into reading groups to discuss text. It is like Literature Circles but I use the Eight Reading Comprehension Skills as the structure for the discussion. Students were assigned a skill and were meant to come the Book Club with their assigned reading finished and ready to speak about their reading through the lens of the given reading skill. In the past, the text and groups have been decided by me based on ability. I plan to give it a try with student selected texts and groups. Currently, I have told the class that they have a week to decide a group and a book that everyone agrees on. Groups can be between 2 and 4 people. I have also suggested books that have multiple copies available in the class and school library. I am looking forward to see what they bring me this coming week. We will still be using the Eight Reading Comprehension Skills as a structure for discussion but I am going to ask them to assign themselves their weekly skill, and decide how much of the book will be expected to be read before the next meeting. I am a bit nervous about leaving so much of this in their hands, even with my guidance. If anyone out there has tried something like this before, do email me your suggestions and experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org or post them here in the comments! I will probably update this post soon as this experiment progresses!
Thanks for reading! Below are the sources I sited.