reneehennings



Independent Reading Post (Due 3/22)

What have I learned about independent reading?  Well, I have learned there is a whole lot that goes into this topic!  I’ve learned that right now, I do some parts of independent pretty well, while I need to boost instruction in these ideas a little more in other areas. One main idea is that independent reading is absolutely necessary for students each day.  In order to grow as readers, students need plenty of practice, and then practice has to be done regularly, monitored (both individually and by a teacher) and needs to be reflected upon.  Students must acquire at least 2,000-3,500 words yearly (taken from Dr. Frye’s PowerPoint).  Some are taught in the classroom through direct instruction, but majority must be taken from silent reading. As I reflect on topics from Creating Lifelong Readers through Independent Reading, I realize that I provide my students with comfortable seating in a classroom that welcomes reading and encourages reading.  I have a shelf that is full of award winning children’s literature, both fiction and nonfiction.  I provide my students with at least twenty minutes of SSR daily.  I don’t have a creative way to display my books besides with their spines showing, and I have not mastered conferring with each and every child each and every day. Creating Lifelong Readers through Independent Reading has provided me with insight in to what is needed each day to build a classroom that fully promotes independent reading and values differentiated instruction.  I have gone through my copy and starred, highlighted and underlined topics that I already do, but also ideas that I find feasible to implement in to my classroom right now! 

I am interested in motivating my students about reading through interesting book displays.  I have colleagues who use basket displays in their classrooms and I have noticed that through conversations, their students know more about book genres and make recommendations during community reading time.  I have talked with on colleague in particular who has students who are excited about writing their own comics.  She has offered those students their own baskets in the classroom library that display student-published work.  What a great idea!  I also want to improve motivation through written book reviews that offer insight to books by students for students.  At the age that I teach, I know that peers are such a big influence on each other, and through reviews in the classroom, books will begin to be passed around like wildfire! 

Another interest that I think is applicable and easy to implement in the classroom right now are interest surveys.  I administered one a few weeks back and learned a large amount about my students and their love of types of texts.  I found the Internet to be the best resource to find texts once I analyzed my students’ interests.  The ALA website provided a list of resources by children’s awards, by years awarded and summaries of certain books.  I also found that Scholastic.com had a wonderful tool that introduced me to other types of text that are like some texts my students already love to read!  Both of these sites served as spring boards for me to do more extensive searches for titles of novels for my students.  After chatting with a classmate, I learned that she administers reading inventories throughout the year.  I think this is a great idea because as the year progresses, students’ interests can change.  Sometimes novels turned into movies can spark interest in new books or a new book series.  Without inventories, we as educators might not truly understand what our students love. 

Through Creating Lifelong Readers through Independent Reading I found a very concrete suggested schedule to model my language arts instructional day after.  This is great for me, because I have a hard time trying to schedule and decide what practices are the best for my readers.  I loved that I could create my own independent reading program using suggestions such as community reading.  Through my community reading time, students will get to share their books in book talks, listen to me read aloud interactively or get lost in their own books.  The second piece that I found to be useful was SIRT.  I realized after reading that I have used elements of SIRT in my classroom before, but I had never connected how the practices that I’ve used were connected in different ways.  I have always used mini-lessons to teach topics (or known as focus lessons by Moss and Young).  I have had students take their newly learned strategy back to their own reading and to practice using graphic organizers or to share thoughts in small groups. One piece that I’ve learned that I need to beef up is my conferencing time with students.  When conferring with my kids right now, I have not found a clear way to organize my thoughts, and how to ask the “right” questions so that I don’t seem to be aiming blindly with my thoughts.  I was happy to see that conferences can be as simple as monitoring student progress or to discuss a reading goal.  Running record keeping in 5th grade can be tougher, because students get through texts much more quickly than younger readers.  Another suggestion for conferences was a book selection conference. Who would have thought I could spend constructive time on discussing with a child what makes a great book selection? This can encourage future text selections for that child, so that he may not feel lost in the library without a direction in mind. 

Another piece that I’ve had trouble with in the past is assessment in the reading workshop approach.  I have graded students’ responses to text, whether their responses are in an art form or in written form.  Sometimes parents want to see a tangible piece of evidence that their child is performing at grade level, and it can be tough to share running records without proof of response.  As I read through Creating Lifelong Readers through Independent Reading I found suggestions of self-evaluation rubrics that can be used as a “grade” when conferring with students.  Reading logs also offer insight that a student is reading as he should.  Between these two pieces I can provide my students’ parents with tangible evidence of understanding and students can see the progress they are making as they read.

Through this assignment I have learned that independent reading is essential for every classroom at every age.  I am eager to try new ideas for reading with my students and am eager to see their motivation rise due to these changes.

Renee Hennings 3/21/12


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Comments

  1. Renee, I too have difficulty gathering grades. My reading program has such a strong focus on success that it is hard to grade a student that is still growing. I also have a hard time giving a letter grade because do you base the grade on effort or completing grade level material? One way that our school is helping us with this is through a grade coding system. When we enter a grade we also have to enter what type of activity is being graded. We can choose from a drop down list that includes project, participation, classwork or test. This helps but then we run into the problem of point scale. Do all teachers use the same grading scale? This is a hot topic at our school. How are these issues being handled in your county?

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 8 months ago
    • Elizabeth,

      Unfortunately we are running into the same problems in our school. I try to provide rubrics for students as they complete activities so that they may understand what is expected of them as they work. Like you, this does not necessarily link directly as A’s, B’s,C’s, D’s and F’s. We do, however, have three options for NCWISE: Classwork, Test, Participation, Quiz. I try to include participation when I can, since it is listed at a different percentage in comparison to tests, classwork or quizzes. I don’t recall all of the percentages off the top of my head but tests are the most, followedby quizzes, classwork and participation.

      Renee Hennings 3/26/12

      | Reply Posted 7 years, 8 months ago
  2. Renee-

    I am glad you are interested in motivating your students to read. We have to start somewhere, and I think with your plan you will do great! How do you think you can accomplish teaching around 3,000 words a year? This is a question I have asked Elizabeth as well seeing that we teach about the same age group. I struggle to find ideas on how to accomplish this task, especially with my struggling readers. What do you think?

    Amanda

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 8 months ago
    • Amanda,

      I am puzzled by the 3,000 words goal myself. We use Wordly Wise 3000 vocabulary series and students learn 15 new words each week. There are 20 lessons for each book, so that amounts to only 300 for the entire year! Of course, students acquire vocabulary through their independent reading selections, and content specific vocabulary in science and social studies, but I am afraid that no one walks away with 3,000. I would love to find a way to implement a more useful word study along with the Wordly Wise program, since it is required in our county. I saw that you and Elizabeth use word sorts. I learned a good amount about these in Words Their Way, and would like to continue this trend in the classroom.

      Renee Hennings 3/25/12

      | Reply Posted 7 years, 8 months ago
      • Renee,

        Seems like we are all running into the same problem, we have a word program of some sort with word sorts added on…but still do we have enough? Like you said, I don’t think we do. It would be neat to come up with a “program” or a list or something that we can all use…kind of like the authors of Words Their Way got together and made their program. Who knows?!

        Amanda

        Posted 7 years, 8 months ago
  3. I agree that running records get difficult as students get faster at reading. One way I have modified the running record approach is to have my student read to me from their independent reading books at their book conferences with me. I have a grid which has 100 boxes in it. I put a check in each box as they read a word correctly and mark their errors. In the end, I am able to check words read per minute and their accuracy. I sometimes share this data with them if I think their book is too challenging for them at the time and then discuss other books they may enjoy reading or offer other ways to support them as they read. Also, this is fantastic data to have on your students. Just an idea!

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 8 months ago
  4. “I do some parts of independent pretty well, while I need to boost instruction in these ideas a little more in other areas… I provide my students with comfortable seating in a classroom that welcomes reading and encourages reading. I have a shelf that is full of award winning children’s literature, both fiction and nonfiction. I provide my students with at least twenty minutes of SSR daily. I don’t have a creative way to display my books besides with their spines showing, and I have not mastered conferring with each and every child each and every day.”
    I think it is great that you are able to reflect on your teaching practice and determine not only what you do well, but on what you feel you can improve on. I think it is one thing to read the research, and say that something sounds good, but it is another to choose to implement it into our instruction. I believe a sign of a good teacher is one who is always willing to grow and look for new ideas to create a better classroom for our students. So many teachers fall into a routine and get comfortable with their instruction and refuse to consider change. Our students are constantly changing, and I think we need to also in order to meet their needs.
    “Creating Lifelong Readers through Independent Reading has provided me with insight in to what is needed each day to build a classroom that fully promotes independent reading and values differentiated instruction. I have gone through my copy and starred, highlighted and underlined topics that I already do, but also ideas that I find feasible to implement in to my classroom right now!”
    I applaud your commitment at improving your classroom experience for your students. It really sounds like you already do so many great (comfortable seating, SSR time, good literature) but I love that you are willing to see what else you can implement for a more engaging and enhancing learning experience.

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 8 months ago


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