This is my third year as Lounsberry’s librarian and our first without Accelerated Reader. It’s demise was not my decision to make alone, however there was no mistake that I wasn’t a fan! My purpose in writing this post, however, is not to denigrate AR, but to discuss methods which seem to be working in our school for the promotion of independent reading and why. Important to note is that the whole of these practices can be observed in the classroom of our new awesome LA teacher at Lounsberry, Declan French.
- Student Book Talks. How: Students sign up for weekly book talks. They present a short summary of the book they read, We’ve been video recording student talks with ipads and students use recordings to self access their presentations. In addition we upload book talks to QR codes and attach to photos of students holding books around the library. Why it works: It’s authentic and purposeful. It creates talk about books. It meets additional CCSS for speaking/presentation skills. There’s an audience! It allows students to estimate the time needed to finish a book and a goal time for finishing.
- Silent in Class Reading. How: Everyday, a few times a week, 5, 10, 15 minutes…whatever you can fit in. Why it works: It provides a model for at home/after school reading. Students realize reading is a priority!
- Sticky Note Connections. How: Students mark text throughout the book when they have questions with their own understanding, author’s purpose, or characters’ thoughts or actions; when they’re psyched by what a character does, when they especially like the language of a particular passage, etc. Text to self, to text and to world too. Why it works: It highlights their relationship with the book. It makes reading an active activity.
- Conferencing. How: Teachers conference, one-to-one, with students about their reading. This may take place during independent reading time or during other learning activities. They talk about the book, sticky note connections etc. Why it works: Students feel honored in sharing their reading with their teachers. It gives teachers another opportunity to access student reading ability and understanding.
- Teacher Book Talks How: Teachers share what they’re reading. Why it works: It gets students interested in books. It works to model book talks. Students see that teachers are reading and enjoying the process!
- Lit Letters How: Students randomly select another student from class and write them a letter about their reading, including: a friendly greeting, a short summary, what they like or dislike about the book they’re reading and why the the person they’re writing might like or dislike what they’re reading, a quote and explanation of its importance. Why it works: To personalize the reading experience; sharing books is authentic!
I’d love to hear your thoughts as to what you think works best to promote independent reading and why. Students comments too!