Reading Interest Inventory-Response Due on 3/22

I used the following Reading Interest Inventory to survey my students this week:

I looked through the examples listed on our class WordPress and in Creating Lifelong Readers and decided that this particular inventory was appropriate for my students because it asked a few different questions.  Students felt that their attitude toward reading was valued by the way it asked how reading made them feel, and if reading was important enough to complete every day.  It also asked questions that got down to the nitty-gritty detail, asking students to share how many hours they spend per day in front of the TV as opposed to being in front of a book. In addition to the open-ended questions, there were only 18 questions in the inventory.  This made the process not seem painstaking, but pleasurable, and with hopes that students would put their honest thoughts and effort into filling out inventories.

As I began to analyze the reading survey, it seemed that many of my readers do read for some length of time outside of school.  The times range anywhere from ten minutes to “so much I can’t count!”  My students seem to really enjoy reading chapter books the most, which at this age is understandable since 5th graders are into novels and longer texts.  Students indicated that they enjoyed looking for books to read at the library at school, and of the four that responded that they had library cards, only two said that they used those cards more than twice a month!  This tells me that our school and I am most of my students’ primary sources for reading materials.  Majority of my students have listed magazines as an alternate source of reading.  They shared that they also liked comics from the newspaper.  This tells me that they have some exposure to non-fiction.  The next selections of questions were completion questions.  I have to celebrate that most of my students loved Ivan as their favorite read aloud, while others thought of stories such as Guess How Much I Love You? and other “nursery rhymes” were read to them as young children.  My kids were asked to share their topics of interest.  At the 5th grade level, most boys said humor and sports and mysteries.  The girls typically answered with mysteries, entertainment and drama.  The consensus is that my students like stories that make them laugh and think!  I am happy with this combination for sure.  The survey asked students to share what they felt they should improve on, and majority of them said that they should read more often!  Others shared that they used their fingers to read, and that they needed to stop.  One young man said he didn’t need to improve at all =)  The next section of the inventory asked students to share their reading strategies.  I found this question interesting because students immediately thought of reading strategies that we share in 5th grade such as prediction, author’s purpose, and using context clues.  Others saw this question as an opportunity to share that they used dictionaries to find meanings of words, to use the right speed when reading, and to visualize what they were reading as they read.  The last part of the interest survey focuses on students’ response to literature.  Majority of my students shared that they only response to literature in the classroom when required.  I only have two students who talk with their families about books.  I didn’t have one participant that responds to books in journal form unless required by school.

Now that I have had the chance to think about my students’ responses to their interest inventories, I can revaluate my classroom library.  At this moment I have quite a few copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Percy Jackson Series.  I have a slew of stories that I have purchased from monthly Scholastic book orders that were $0.95 or a dollar.  I have donations from past students as well as cheap finds from the local bookstore in town in Winston Salem.  I have donations from past teachers who have retired or left the profession.  I have honestly done the best that I can with the little bit of funding that I’ve had in the past and the bit I can afford out of pocket.  When I go to local bookstores I am careful to choose quality children’s literature, paying close attention to what my students are carrying around school and what they do talk about with me. I look for Newbery Winners, fiction, non-fiction and reference books. I try and listen to students about the age of my students in the bookstore, hearing any comment I can about what students enjoy reading.  Sometimes I walk away with treasures while other times I flop!

After thinking about my students’ attitudes toward books, I feel that I need to beef up my collection some.  My students seem to like chapter books the best.  I am seeing a trend that most of them enjoy humorous stories and mysteries.  I also noticed that my boys are really into sports stories while my girls like their dramas.  When planning for my Donors Choose, I will keep this in mind.  Another way that I can beef up my library is to find a more clear way to display books of interest.  As I read through Chapter Two in Creating Lifelong Readers through Independent Reading I noticed that it was suggested that students have the ability to see books in other ways, not just by the spines.  I would like to find myself a quality bookshelf that is lower so that I may display books more clearly and showcase special finds for students to get interested in. In efforts to get my students talking about their text more often, I am thinking of a classroom rating system much like online reviews.  I have space to create a bulletin board where students may illustrate and review a piece of literature and could even categorize their book by its genre.  Again, in Creating Lifelong Readers I found suggestions in Chapter Two that book displays are a way to capture students’ attention to new texts.  To extend this online, I have recently discovered Amazon’s free program, Shelfari that allows users with an email address to set up online book shelves that enable readers to browse similar genres of text and to read others’ thoughts and comments on books that they’ve completed.  In order to address students who are worried about their fluency, I think purchasing novels in pairs and in small groups might be a great way to practice this.  Students who feel they need practice can time themselves with partners while reading passages from the same novels, allowing for students to read high interest books, but also practicing their weaknesses.

I feel that I am swimming just a bit in this big idea of my classroom library, and I need any other suggestions that any of you may have to better organize myself and my thoughts so that I may make the best use out of my Donor’s Choose account.  If you have tips or tricks that you use in your classrooms, please comment and share!  I’d love to hear!

Renee Hennings 3/10/12

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