The most important thing I have learned is how an effective Independent Reading Program should be set up. According to Moss and Young (2010), an Independent Reading Program “involves 15 minutes for a large-group focus lesson, 30 minutes for individual reading, and 15 minutes for student completion of response activities “, with 15 minutes of that time being spent on student –teacher conferences. In addition, there should also be two twenty-minute sessions of community time. In my experience, I have never witnessed an Independent Reading Program this way. Typically, teachers just inform students that it’s time for SSR and to get out their books. The teachers are usually grading papers, making phone calls, or catching up on gossip with other teachers during this time, so they’re not closely monitoring. Therefore, the students aren’t getting quality independent reading time. I love the idea about responding to what you read! Students could respond in so many different ways- journals, poems, storyboards, script-writing, etc. Students could be creative and think out of the box for this.
Teacher-student conferences are crucial for student success. They develop a sense of trust and care, so when the teacher offers feedback or correction, the student welcomes it. Every day I go up to fourth grade to conference with some of the lower-level students during SSR. At first I thought students would be reluctant to conference with me (read out loud, I ask comprehension questions and clarify misunderstandings, make predictions, and get feedback from me about their reading), but I was very wrong. I walk in the classroom door and at least one each day (maybe more) will come up and ask, “Mrs. Beach can I read with you?” If I have to read with someone else that day and can’t read with them, they get upset. I think they like conferencing with me because I comment on the quality of their answers, probe them for more if needed, and comment on their rate and accuracy for the day. I guess, like most people, they just like the immediate feedback.
I especially like the idea of the community time. This is a great time for book talks and interactive read alouds. I was reading Amanda’s post and she mentioned that her students do commercials for the books. What a wonderful idea!! Students would have so much fun doing this and hopefully some of their peers would be interested in the book. This community time is very important because it leads to motivation and interest which drives reading, so in my idea classroom, I would be able to have community time daily for students to share books. The powerpoint mentioned that sometimes students get caught up in a certain genre or series (which I have found to be true), and I believe the community time may prevent this from happening. It would allow students to hear about a book that they may not have picked up themselves, and may, ultimately, be motivated to read it.
In addition to developing an effective Independent Reading Program, I would be sure to have a spacious, defined reading area with a wonderful collection of literature. The space would consist of comfortable seating with area for students to spread out, books sorted by level in baskets aligning the reading rug, and bright lighting. My collection would include multi-genre texts of various levels that are of high-interest to my students. I would determine my students’ interests by administering an interest inventory.
Independent reading, alone, can not teach students the skills they need. Students need a balanced literacy program that includes teacher-directed reading and independent reading in order to produce successful readers. Implementing the program that Moss and Young (2010) recommend is sure to enrich vocabulary, enhance background knowledge, and increase comprehension, which will increase overall reading achievement.
Moss, B. & Young, T. (2010). Creating lifelong readers through independent reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association