Sunday, August 25, 2013

Reading at Home

I have a whole bunch of thinking rambling around in my head as I get ready to fully implement the expectation that my students will read at home for 20-30 minutes each night.

First, I'm going to need my students to work hard to develop an at-home reading habit. I want to provide them with a variety of choices for the way they will track and report their reading so that they will own the whole process, from the selection of their books/texts to the development of the habit, to the tracking and reporting. So far, the menu of options include

  • daily writing on paper (Typically this has been a M-Th assignment that is handed in on F, but why not let the students decide what the cycle will be? Maybe they do most of their reading on the weekend, so it makes sense to do it Th-Su and hand it in M? Or they have sports and lessons so they can best complete the work on M, W, Th, Su, or some other combination.)
  • responding digitally on a Google form (The form I developed has their name, title/author of their book, a genre drop-down menu, and a place to write a reflection. The student would submit their thinking four times a week. This choice would also allow for weekend reading.)
  • weekly letter (This could be handwritten or typed and would summarize and synthesize a week's worth of reading. Students could determine on what day of the week they would agree to hand in their letter.)
  • blogging (Hmm...I guess if I'm going to offer this as an option, I just made my mind up about KidBlog!)

Now I'm really thinking as I type. We've got a five day week next week. I could introduce each of these options (maybe not in that exact order) on M, T, W, and Th, let them practice in class, and then practice again at home. Then they could work up their plan and submit it to me on the Tuesday after Labor Day. With each child/family developing the timing of the plan and the reporting method that works best for them, I will never again be taking a whole stack of papers home on a Friday night to haunt me until Sunday night. I'll be able to spread my tracking and responding out over the week. Hmm...I'm liking this more and more!

So. I think I just wrote my reading lesson plans for next week. Does it make sense to spend a whole week working on developing a plan for and cultivating the habit of home reading? I think in the big scheme of things, a week is a small price. 

The second thing I'm going to need for this to work is buy-in from parents that at-home reading is not fluff, not optional, and not designed by me to torture their family. Remember that chart that shows how a child's reading achievement can be correlated to the number of minutes a day they read? 

http://www.devstu.org/research-individualized-daily-reading

Here is the same chart with the benefit of 10 extra minutes a day factored in. Check out those gains for the low- to mid-level readers:

http://www.iowaafterschoolalliance.org/documents/cms/docs/10_minutes.pdf

I want my parents to know that I expect their child to read for 20-30 minutes each evening because research has proven that it will grow their child as a reader! I'm hoping that this (possible, intangible) reward will be enough to prompt my students' parents to help their child discover the cues they will use to prompt the routine and habit of at home reading.


For more information about cues, routines and rewards, this is a great book:


by Charles Duhigg
Random House, February 28, 2012

I'm only about halfway through the book, listening to the audio version as I drive to and from school. Duhigg's explanation of how cues, routines, and rewards work, and his amazing examples from individuals' lives to huge corporations are understandable, entertaining, and compelling.

20 comments:

  1. Mary Lee,
    I love listening to your thinking out loud (or on your blog.) I have a problem with students completing a home reading log. Can I steal this idea? Giving my students this amount of choice will certainly help. You are a genius in my book!
    I did kidblogs last year and my students loved it. I believe it increased their writing level by leaps.

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    1. Use, modify, fluff...and share your version so that we all can keep becoming better teachers...TOGETHER!

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  2. Mary Lee-
    I love this! Sending it to my principal and teachers right now! I especially love the idea of letting families work out their own home reading schedules! After school and sports, my guys were usually pretty tired, and reading was not on their list of favorite things. I would have loved if we could have had Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and not a M-Th, turn in on Friday schedule!
    Carol

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    1. What I want to know is -- why did it take me this long to realize I could let go of that arbitrary schedule?!?!

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  3. Thank you for your thinking and planning right before our eyes! I love that you showed how writing out thoughts can help us make decisions. Good mentor text. ;-)

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    1. I got really excited when I hit that fourth paragraph!!

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  4. We have our Back to School Night this week and I can't wait to talk about the importance of home reading- even more so for our kiddos as most are fluent in multiple languages. Thanks for this thinking aloud!

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    1. Do you build in the option for your multilingual kids to read in either language, not just in English? So important for them to keep their first language!

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  5. I especially like using the research to explain to students and parents why reading at home is so critical. When the students are writing about what they've read, do you have specific guidelines you want them to use. I would like to hear more about what you tell them they need to write about. Thanks!

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    1. I don't think I'm going to make a bunch of rules for what they need to write about or how much they need to write...except maybe the weekly letter. I'm thinking that the letter needs to be two strong paragraphs, one about WHAT they read (choices, amount completed, genres, etc) and another about their THINKING (opinions, connections, etc).

      My basic message about the writing will be that it works the same way the reading does -- the more you write, the better you get at it.

      I'm hoping to build in a social piece for more than just the blogging option -- giving kids a bit of time in the morning to touch base with a friend and talk about what they read and how their plan is going.

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  6. Mary Lee,
    Very cool to be thinking out loud this way. It helps me tremendously to see what you are thinking.

    I struggle with this issue...Reading regularly is so very important, but my mind is unsettled about how much to have the kids write about what they read, or even how much to log what they've read because, well, I've never really been very pleased with the results and it sometimes seemed artificial to me. The way I did it clearly looked like an accountability measure--I'm keeping track so you will do it-- which seemed to run counter to the "reading is fun and interesting" message I wanted to send. (I've been happier with a "dipstick" approach, where they log their reading at a point in time, and do some writing prior to a set book discussion time...)

    I rarely write about what I'm reading UNLESS I'm using if for something or talking about it with others via some social media platform. So, I've wondered about using Voice Thread -- to relieve the typing stress -- or Edmodo, as a threaded conversational format rather than a more formal written response? The purpose would be to create as much as possible the kind of social situation, the give and take of real conversation, that I encounter as an adult reader. As you can see, I struggle mightily with how much to have kids write about their reading, and for what purpose!

    Thanks for getting me thinking!!!

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  7. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important subject, Mary Lee. I appreciate your perspective, and your candid thinking-as-you-type : )

    Would you mind sharing the Google Form you use?

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  8. I would love to see a copy of the form too!

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  9. This is fantastic, and exactly the type of musing that I needed to stumble upon to create my students' reading plans! Merci beaucoup from a Franco/Anglophile!

    Shannon

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  10. Loved this post, Mary Lee.

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  11. Mary Lee--Thank you so much for this amazing post. You've pushed my thinking about how kids might respond to their reading, and I wish we lived closer (or taught next door) so I could run next door and watch you in action. I'm working on a letter to parents and the graphics really speak volumes. Thank you!! Happy New School Year!!
    P.S. Im about to "one-click" Carnivores! :) You're the best!

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  12. Saving this as my teaching partner and I continue to chew on what this looks like in seventh grade! We're looking at Good Reads as an option for kids whose parents are so inclined, and I appreciate your additional ideas, as well. I think the research will be a key part of our curriculum night talks :)

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  13. Mary Lee, I love when you share your teacher-pondering. It's a great reminder of how many possibilities there are and how much work and thought goes into the approach you choose. Good luck with this new system of choices!

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  14. Great idea! Your thoughts about practicing an option a day for a week reminded me of Nancy Atwell's reading workshop and mini-lessons. Your comment about the social blogging sounds a lot like Atwell's reading notebook, where students write letters to their classmates about what they are reading and then swap notebooks and respond. I really loved this type of workshop when I was teaching middle school. I think you are spot on.

    To incorporate a writing workshop element, you might consider asking the students to occasionally write in the style of the book they read. If they read a mystery, then the writing style would be like a mystery book. If they read a book of poetry, then perhaps a poem in the same style. Writers learn to write by reading good writing. Those minutes your students are collecting could really work hard for them in other areas.

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  15. Mary Lee,
    I have not read all of the comments but will. I have to say I love you! For all of your kids and their parents who will sing your praises some day if they are not yet doing it today. I love how you have added the 10 minutes to the chart. Can't wait to hear how this goes for you and all the others who will try it. There is a study from London on reading for pleasure improving school performance on my FB wall. Wonderful, wonderful post. Janet F. (FB Janet Clare)

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