Adventures in Literacy Land: motivating readers

Showing posts with label motivating readers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motivating readers. Show all posts

Silent Reading Partners

Reluctant readers versus avid readers.  We all have them.  We work hard to keep the avid readers excited and challenged.  We work hard to get the reluctant readers excited and challenged.

How do we do this?  In so may different ways.  Engaging lessons, book choice, celebrated successes, providing books of interest, book clubs...the list goes on.  And I know as teachers, we will never stop searching for those ways to excite, engage, and challenge.

To become better at anything in life, we need practice.  To become a better reader, students need to read.  And some of our reluctant readers don't read as often because they feel that they can't or that it is too hard.  They need to feel successful and there is something to be said about reading without any judgements being made. Silent reading partners can provide this.

This past week my daughters participated in a "Tail Waggin' Tutors" program at our local library.  The energy was at all-time high in our home before and after the event.  They each picked out a book to take with them and they read to two dogs each.  Bookmarks with a picture of the dogs were in each of their hands on the way out the door.

These silent reading partners provided both excitement and challenge to my readers.  For my youngest (kinder), she walked away with a book that she wanted to try to read to me--but would have told me prior that she could not read it.  For my oldest (firstie), she walked away eager to share her experience and tell about all the jokes she shared with the dogs.

The dogs listened.  No judgements made.

Don't get me wrong...students need to have the feedback that we provide them during guided reading groups or that parents provide when reading at home.  Students need the modeling of a choral read, echo read, or repeated reading.  Students need to hear strong, engaging read alouds.  They need to read books at their instructional and independent level.

But they also need to read because they just want to read-without judgement, without feedback-without agenda.  Just read to read.

This doesn't have to occur only through a great program that comes to the library or our schools.  Maybe it is a pet in the home or a baby sibling.  The opportunities for a silent reading buddy may already be present. 

At the beginning of the year, my teammate lined up all the reading buddies she had bought at garage sales over the summer.  Each student in our grade got to take home a buddy to read to each night.

Some students do not have a family member to read to, or a parent that is going to encourage read aloud time each night.  The hope is that this little silent reading partner can excite and challenge our reluctant and avid readers.

As spring begins to show its face and summer is on the horizon, I begin thinking about what I have done and what more I can do to ensure that my students keep reading.  Even when I am not there to listen.


10 Ways Teachers Kill a Love of Reading

We used to do our reading block in the morning, every day, but our library time was scheduled on Thursday afternoons.

So, in the morning, I worked so hard to foster a love of reading. And then on Thursday afternoons, we came back from library and I told my kids to put their new books away because it was math time.

The books they had just searched through the library to pick.

The books they were so excited to read.

And I made them immediately put it inside their desks or backpacks.

What was I thinking???

It wasn’t until I read The Book Whisperer that I realized exactly what I was doing. I was taking a moment full of book excitement, and I squashed it like a bug.

So instead, I started building in ten minutes in our schedule. We still had to fit math in- but I could lose ten minutes once a week if it meant giving my kids a moment to dive into their new books.

To make this time even more special? I brought in a book I was reading (or snagged one from the library I’d been meaning to read) and settled into a comfy spot on the floor to read with my kids.

You should’ve seen the looks on my students’ faces!

They were shocked. They were so used to me using our reading time to pull guided reading groups or confer with individuals, so for me to sit down and read with them was really surprising. But I instantly had kids gather around me, wanting to see what I was reading, or even just read “with” me (especially when I taught 2nd graders!)

It was a great time to not just tell them I’m a reader- but to show it and model it!

Ten minutes a week is a small price to pay for building excitement about reading.

Other ways I see teachers kill a love of reading?

kill a love of reading

  • Limiting kids to a certain reading level
    Oh, you’re interested in this? I don’t care. It’s not the right level.
  • Not letting kids choose their own books
    Imagine going to the library and someone picking your books for you.
  • Turning reading into worksheets about reading
    No matter how great a worksheet is, it can’t compare to real reading.
  • Not getting new and interesting books in the classroom library
    You need books your kids want to read. And if you “have enough books,” you probably don’t have the latest books. Bringing in new ones through the year builds more excitement, too!
  • Telling kids they can’t read ahead
    I always tell them they can- because, really, do I want them to stop reading a book when they’re dying to go on? They just aren’t allowed to give spoilers.
  • Requiring a reading log of homework minutes
    You never want to have kids looking at the clock, counting the seconds until they can stop reading.
  • Limiting reading to “real” books
    Graphic novels, websites, magazines, etc. are just as valuable as a book with a spine… and sometimes more. Reading is worthwhile- period.
  • Skipping the read aloud as kids get older
    Reading aloud is important for so many academic reasons, but it’s also one of the biggest ways to let kids just fall in love with books… and we can’t take that away! Make sure read alouds aren’t just for explicit lessons, but also just for the joy of reading (and introducing kids to wonderful books and series!)
  • Test Prep
    Need I say more?

If you’re not sure how you’re killing the kids’ love of reading, just listen for the moans and groans, and look for the times your kids are excited about their books. How can you build on those moments, and how can you create more?

Over at my blog today, I’m sharing some ways foster a love of reading. I’d love for you to come over to Luckeyfrog Learning and share your ideas!



5 Ways to Motivate Kids to Read in the Summer

Hello, everyone! It's Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars!  It's hard to believe that summer is here for me.  You may still have some time left, but it won't be long!

My son has already started to tell me that there is "nothing to do" after being two days in!  Guess what?!  He is wrong! There is an entire world out there, and so much of it can be found in books.   I am here to share five ways to motivate your students or children to read this summer.
Read on to see the five ways I motivate my own children to read, read, read!

The first thing I do every summer is visit the library.  Just going to the library allows children to choose their very own books from so many books.  They are free, so if your child doesn't like a book, there is no money lost.  And most libraries have a summer reading incentive program where children can earn prizes for reading.

Finding that magical book or series is the moment that defines reading for students. Giving children choice helps them embrace that love of reading too.  We were given a suggested list to read, which my son turned his nose up to.  He already has his books ready for the summer. Here are a few he plans to read this summer.

My son has to have the right place to read.  One summer he took this old box and made his reading nook.  He loved doing this and spent much of his reading time there.  He also enjoys reading in the comfort of his own bed.

Another summer he hurt his legs at the beach and found that the beach was a perfect place to read.

The places are endless!  Go outside, stay inside, anyplace is a good place to read!

Reading socially is great for children, especially as they get older.  Now that my son can text, he and his friends can have book discussions and give recommendations.  Our next door neighbor is a middle school teacher and gives her son and my son different books to read.  After they read them, they switch and discuss.  How cool!

Another way to get kids to read socially is to form a little book club with a play date.  Children can discuss the books they have read.  Last year, Emily wrote a great post about hosting a book swap at your house or at school. This is another great way to discuss books and get new books at the same time!

Children can read anything to be reading!  My daughter is so excited when I read directions to her, and she can help me make something.  We had so much fun making this simple wand with household items while reading directions.  It was fun, and we were able to spend time together.

Get books that have some summer learning experiences with them.  Go outside and learn! If your family is going camping, read about what you need to do go camping.  Does your child like Legos or Minecraft?  There are books for those too!

But, to make it fun, it can also just be fun to read and enjoy it.  No projects or essays ~ just the pure enjoyment of reading, wherever and whenever they want!  That is the best motivation!

Enjoy your summer, and don't forget to read, read, read!


Teachers as Reader Role Models

Friday was my last day of school for this year and I am already thinking about plans for next year.  This school year I started a new role in a new school as a math coach and in an effort to learn more about the math content, I have left many of my reading coach thoughts behind.  However, next year I want to do my part in creating a community of readers in my school.  One of my favorite ways to show students that I was a reader was to show them exactly what I was reading.  I didn't take pictures of how I did this :(  However, I did find pictures of what my fabulous high school teacher/academic coach friend did, and I can't wait to share with you her display.  Her display put mine to shame.

Let's take a look at each part of her display in detail.  At the time, Mrs. Stone taught ninth grade English for two periods to a group of students she had been teaching since the sixth grade.  Each year she looped up with her students.  They had formed a very special bond with her.  She spent the rest of her day being a master teacher (academic coach) to the other teachers in the high school.

She, like myself, was always reading more than one book at a time.  In order to keep up with what was current and be able to recommend books to her students, she read a lot of young adult fiction.  Not mention that we both LOVE reading young adult fiction books!  I love how she printed miniature versions of the book covers to use instead of just listing a title.  Book covers are works of art themselves and I love showcasing them.  They are first impression students have of the book.

Using book covers again, she listed the books that were in her TBR (to be read) pile.  Her students had lists in their notebooks of books they were interested in next and hers was just a visual representation of that list.  The students liked to see what she would be picking from next and the list also encouraged the students to check out the books themselves.

Once she finished reading a book, she moved the book cover from "is reading" to "has read."  She would then give book talks on the books and the line would begin of students wanting to check that book out.

At the beginning of each quarter, Mrs. Stone had a conference with each student and helped them set a personal reading goal.  The goals were set in terms of number of pages read, not number of books.  Students kept this tracking form in their notebooks.  Students were not competing against each other; they were working on meeting their own individual goal.  The student completed the title and page number section.  Mrs. Stone would then initial the completed column after they showed her in some fashion that they comprehend what they read.  I really liked the progress bar at the bottom.  Once a goal was set (hers was 3000 pages), the students divided the goal by four (750 for her) and set smaller goals on the way to completion of the major goal.  As students neared the completion of their goal, they colored in the progress bar so they would have a visual of how far they had come.

This post is dedicated to Mrs. Stone.  She is still working at my last school and I miss working with her on a daily basis.  She is a true inspiration.  She cares deeply for her students and inspires them to take their reading to new heights.

 photo thinkingoutloudtitle.png

Ditch the Reading Log for At-Home Reading!

Welcome, Literacy Land readers!  It's Lauren from Teacher Mom of 3 here today to share a follow-up to my post on reading logs. You can read that post here.

In this previous post, I shared why I am not a big fan of sending reading logs home for independent reading. As teachers, our goal is to create life-long learners and readers; that's why we want our students to read at home.  To nurture and foster little readers, we first must motivate them and help them develop into "wild" readers, as Donalyn Miller would call them.  We also want our emergent students to practice their reading at home AND enjoy doing so.  In fact, we want this for all of our students.

Boushey and Moser ("The 2 Sisters") share the work of Guthrie in the second edition of The Daily 5:

Motivating students, especially reluctant readers, to read at home is 
a precarious act.  We need to give them choice in what they read and remove any barriers that may hinder them.  My advice is to ditch the reading log!

However, there is always the accountability piece. Are the children reading at home?  If I don't require a reading log, will the parents and students still take the reading seriously?  How will I know if they are reading at home?  

Instead of emphasizing the reading log...
  • At the beginning of the year, communicate with parents and students that the expectation is that they read at home.  Suggest they read "x" amount of minutes per day. Explain to parents why this is critical to reading development.  Recommend that parents do not set a timer and that reading can be completed in "chunks" during the afternoon and evening.
  • Allow for as much choice as possible, not only in what a student reads, but also to whom they read.  Students can read to a younger sibling or to a stuffed animal.  Students can read to their parents or with their parents.  For some of my kindergarten and first grade students, I suggest that parents read to their child if their son/daughter is having difficulty (either from being tired, the book is too hard, motivational and behavioral issues).
  • Most likely, you are keeping some kind of documentation at school to record the books students are reading.  So, to send home a reading log is kind of repetitive.  It is hard, but I really believe that we can relinquish control to the parents and students and trust that they will read.
  • Allow students to briefly share their at-home reading in a small group, in a journal entry, during a conference, or during a morning routine such as a morning meeting, or morning work.  When I taught reading intervention, I would have students volunteer to share their their reading from the previous evening as we were waiting for students to arrive.
  • If you ask students if they completed their reading, they will be honest- most of the time.  I'm sure we all have done this, but use the sports analogy with students who are not reading at home.  That is, to get better at baseball (or dance, art, playing an instrument), they need to practice.  The same with reading. Plus it is fun!  If it's not fun, then we as teachers will work on motivating our little ones.
  • You can have students as young as kindergarten give a Book Talk on their at-home reading.  For older students (3rd and above), I have used Book Talks where the purpose was for them to "sell" the book to their peers.
  • Allow students ownership of a classroom reading log so they can see their progress and celebrate how much they have read both at school and at home.

  • If you must have documentation that the child reads at home, consider using a calendar where all the parent has to do is sign their name.  My second grade son's teacher has a book mark for the week.  Each night he reads to me, and all I have to do is sign the paper.  No timers, no complicated reading logs!

So, instead of a reader's log for at-home reading, I suggest teachers spend their precious time and energy on motivating students to want to read, selecting the right book, and becoming independent readers.


10 Ways to Motivate Your Readers

Do your students love book projects? Check out this post for 10 ideas you can use to spark reading motivation!

What do you think of when you hear the word, "Project"? Maybe art supplies (or the lack of them), creativity, or perhaps, "There goes my relaxation time!" Well, I have students who are incredibly excited to share their enthusiasm for reading whenever it's time to make a project, and today, we'll explore ways to motivate, celebrate, and increase reading with your students through projects and other motivational techniques.


Motivating Big Kids and Teens to Read

Hello, Literacy Land readers!  It's Lauren here today from Teacher Mom of 3 to continue a collaborative discussion about motivating readers and sustaining that momentum. Last month I shared my tips for Motivating Our Littlest Readers. You can read that post here.

Today, I want to share ideas and professional reading suggestions to keep the spark alive with older readers- those in grade three and above.  Some of you may not know that I have spent roughly half of my twenty-five years in education working with students in grades 6-12.  Although much has changed since I first stepped into my classroom back in 1989, one constant remains:  kids of all ages are wired to learn, are curious, and want and need to see purpose and authenticity in their learning.

As literacy teachers, we want to ignite the spark and fan the flame to create life-long readers. Miller and Gallagher state that "The highest priority is to create lifelong readers".  But what happens when the spark that was ignited in the early elementary years wanes?  Just the other day, one of my dearest friends who teaches eighth grade ELA, stated that her struggling readers see no purpose in reading.  They are burned out by the time they get to her classroom from reading to prepare for the "big test".  They see no joy in reading.  In the book Readicide by Kelly Gallagher, he states, "Students are taught that the reason they should become readers is to pass a test" (p.17).  Jeffrey Wilhelm, author of You Gotta BE the Book shares that we must help students to pursue reading in a personally, meaningful way.  In addition, Smith and Wilhelm found that boys, especially, want to understand the value of reading and need a reading purpose that relates to their lives.

But how do we as teachers accomplish this?  How can we create passionate readers and share with parents the importance of continuing to encourage their children to read at home?

Here are a few ideas that research supports and that I have found to work in my classroom.

Tips for Teachers:  Creating Passionate Readers

  • Before we can help unmotivated readers, we need to find out why they are reluctant to read.  Is it because they are struggling readers, reading below grade level?  Is it because they are are not interested in the texts we use in the classroom?  Are they burned out from too much test prep and lack an understanding of the importance of reading?  Do they see no joy in reading?  Is it because the way we are presenting, teaching, structuring our lessons does not appeal to their learning style?  Once we determine the why and diagnose the issue, then we can work to remediate.

  • How do we accomplish this?  I suggest using interest surveys, learning styles assessments, Multiple Intelligence surveys, and student conferences.  Laura Candler has some free resources for determining students' learning styles and interests.  Check out free printable forms here and here to get started.

  • Gallagher recommends that we use the 50/50 approach when planning our reading instruction.  That is, 50% of reading in the classroom should be recreational, independent, student-selected reading.  The other 50% should be academic reading. Gallagher shares that if we are only doing academic reading, we will not develop life-long readers ( p. 109).  He goes on to say that "Kids who do the most recreational reading become the best readers" (p. 42).

  • Make sure that every student has a book to take home and read for fun that they have selected and that they have an invested interest in. This is the single most important issue in our quest to develop readers (Gallagher, p. 46).

  • Implement teacher and student Book Talks, Graffiti Walls, flexible reading groups, literacy circles, and acknowledge all types of reading as important including magazines, digital texts, audio texts, manuals of how to fix things or to figure out how things work, or reading about how things work. Be passionate and enthusiastic in sharing your own reading experiences. Allow for student choice and time for reading in the classroom.

Of course, this is just a starting point.  For more information, check out the following professional books to help ignite passionate, life-long readers and thinkers {click on the pictures to view the books on Amazon}:

What ideas do you have to motivate older readers?  How do you instill confidence in struggling readers and help them to discover the joy and pleasure of reading?  Share your ideas in the comments section!