Today was bittersweet for me. It always is on last day of classes. I spent my last hour with each class celebrating their reading lives. We celebrated the amount of pages they read individually, as a class, and as a whole grade level. Here are some of their truly amazing statistics:
I’m smiling as I review those numbers. I’m overjoyed, for my students ARE readers! They didn’t start out that way, so I had to be patient and diligent.
I gave them time in class to read EVERY DAY, and soon they came into class genuinely looking forward to those 15 minutes.
After those 15 minutes, I always tried to share an intriguing new title I read or heard about. Sometimes if I forgot to do a book talk, someone would say, “Mrs. K, aren’t you going to share a book with us today?”
I made my classroom library visible. New titles were arranged so students could see the covers, and the books I read were displayed so students could ask me about them.
Book passes got students into new titles they didn’t know about. After longer breaks, students eagerly participated in “book passes” where they would spend 1-2 minutes previewing a book, and then pass it to the next person and preview the next title.
We used Goodreads.com to reflect and share our reading experiences with peers. Goodreads accounts were used to not only log books they wanted to read and did read, but to also recommend books to friends. It created a reading community outside of the classroom.
We helped one another. We’d share our reading strategies to help those struggling to find that reading time, and we’d applaud those who met their page goals or doubled them.
I NEVER gave up on those students that said they “just didn’t feel like reading” or “can’t find a good book.” Sure, there were bumps along the way, but as I told my students, we won’t fall in love with every book we try. We need to keep trying again and again and again and again. There were days that some couldn’t get into that “reading zone,” but most days I could hear a pin drop. On those days, when I would say it was time for them to mark their spots, sometimes no one moved to do so!
We kept at it, and by the end of the year I had the proof I needed that what I did with independent reading paid off:
I could not be more proud of these 94 students! What true readers they are. I can only hope that these strategies stick, and that I see many of them over the summer (for summer library hours) and in September.