written by Shannon Horton, DMS Librarian and Collaborative Teacher
More and more I notice students looking and finding an “easy button” when it comes to independent reading. They choose graphic novels because the pictures help them enter the story quickly, they choose realistic fiction about characters and places that are familiar to them, and they often pick up books they’ve read before. That’s not all bad, don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of graphic novels, books that reflect my own life, and even books written well below my abilities, BUT I also push myself from time to time and reap enormous benefits.
What methods have you found to push students in a direction that will get them out of their reading comfort zone? Here are a few ideas to get us started:
READ A CHAPTER ALOUD
Read a chapter, or a few chapters, to hook students and help them with the work of getting into a book. List the books in your classroom or on Canvas for student reference. (So many of you have done this as teachers, and I’ve seen the positive results in the library.)
CONNECT WITH PEERS
Make reading social. How can students talk about and recommend books to other students? This is satisfying for readers and can also hook new readers on books they wouldn’t naturally pick up. Could students be given a choice in how to share the books they love with their classmates? In Canvas start a discussion so that students can add books they recommend by attaching files, such as a picture with their book or a short video.
ENCOURAGE NEW DIRECTION
Assign an occasional parameter to their Independent Reading that requires them to reach in a new direction. Gene Yang, author and recently appointed National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, has a fabulous idea for teachers and students alike. His challenge is called Reading Without Walls, and I think it’s just what this world needs. Could we as teachers take the challenge? Could students take the challenge and reflect on their experience? Here’s what I picture: teachers reading graphic novels, such as the ones written by Gene Yang, while students pick up a book about a life lived in a way they have no reference for.
Self-selected, independent reading is key to developing readers. Give them choice! Praise and show interest in their choices! Let them be “lazy” and read something below their abilities. And, every now and again, find creative ways to push them.
Gene Yang, pictured above, has been chosen for a 2016
MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, so he must
know what he’s talking about. (Photo Credit)
P.S. If you want one of the posters that outlines the reading challenge, just let me know. I see it as a great way to advertise on your door how you’ve accepted the challenge yourself or to post in your room for students. I made it using http://www.canva.com/, my favorite tool for making posters and signs.
Written by Tara Duerre, DMS Special Education Teacher
It’s 2015. I’ve been using the internet for over 15 years and yet here I sit, writing my very first BLOG. When I heard about this new blog for DMS, I felt excited to have this additional tool where we can share ideas, celebrations, goals, professional growth, and ah-ha moments.
I’m working with Mr. Peterson and Mr. Kelley this year specifically targeting reading fluency with a group of 13 students. High class numbers, wide range of students’ individual strengths and needs, and simply taking longer than usual to teach class procedures has made the beginning of this year seem more challenging than most, but on a positive note, I see growth and progress, maturity, and collaboration already with our students after the first quarter. Working with these two talented teachers is quite rewarding for me as well. Finally, the people holding TLC grant positions have provided us with additional support and learning that helps us grow professionally as well as provide our students with an additional breadth of ideas and strategies.
As a special education teacher, my main focus is often reading comprehension, but over the years have had specific students with fluency as their #1 need. A few years ago I piloted a series of interventions (FAA - functional academic assessment for fluency) with the help of Chami from the AEA and saw huge results. Three of the four students ended up exiting from special education services within 1.5 years of receiving the intervention. I’ve used it sporadically over the past few years with specific kids whose targeted need was fluency and it has still proved to show surprisingly drastic growth.
This year, there is a group of 13 students who require direct fluency instruction. Yep...13. I’ve done this with groups of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, but 13. YIKES! A few days were spent getting the program set up with audio passages shared with each student, class computers set up, and the checklists made. Students go through a series of centers and practice fluency. Centers include:
The first day I think I had 15 grey hairs grow in, but gradually over the past weeks only 1 or 2 is popping up after our intervention class. The students are now working almost entirely independent throughout the centers and even ask me when they see me in the hall “Are we coming up for fluency today?” So I do believe they see the benefit, confidence, and growth in themselves and their reading. We have only graphed a baseline, but over the next 6 weeks will be watching closely to see the results.
How about you? Have you had a successful fluency intervention? Would you like to get an up-close look at FAA? Let's talk!
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