One group of students who I think we often ignore is those students who are solid readers, are compliant–but aren’t “engaged readers”. We know that students learn to read by READING, so if they aren’t reading at home and aren’t challenging themselves at school, their progress will be impacted.
Getting Students Talking About Books
This is exactly what I have been going through with one of my students. She is “at grade level” in reading as measured in a number of ways, but I’ve noticed all year that she does the absolute minimum. She doesn’t read at home despite her parents badgering her. She loses focus at school as she reads. She abandons books often. She CAN read. She just DOESN’T read.
Because I think it’s vital that we are creating readers, not just “test passers”, I am not willing to accept that she is holding her own–because she is being held back by her reading behaviors and habits. If I want her to reach her potential, I need to step in.
Here’s what I do with reluctant, capable readers like her!
I first ask some questions…
Do you know what you like? Do you know what you don’t?
Where do you like to read? Where don’t you?
Which books that I have read TO you have you enjoyed? Why?
And then we begin. We move to my classroom library and we sit together. I start pulling books off my shelf and heaping them in front of her. Her job? To sort them into three piles…
(Let me tell you…if you don’t have a classroom library, start. If you don’t know your collection, start. The success of “matching students to books” depends on it!)
Finding “Just Right” Books
As she sorted, I started a list for her on the computer. When she finished (I had given her about thirty books to preview), I asked her to take her “definitely” books and put them in the order she wanted to read them. She did, and I handed her the first two books to keep in her desk and get started. Within the first two days, she had read the same number of pages she had read in the previous two weeks–and was grinning ear to ear! Was it worth the half hour of my time? I believe so…