If you read my post from three weeks ago you understand my plight. I’m fighting an important battle, and it’s a battle I can’t bear to lose. I strive desperately to move each one of my students towards a love of reading. Reading comes easy to some of them; it’s so hard for others.
It’s working. I’m seeing momentum build with my readers. Several of them came back from this weekend having read on their own!!!
Our Rooted in Reading tree is growing!!!
So what, exactly, have I been doing?
As previously mentioned, I had to find out where all my students were as readers. That took several weeks of tracking movement. I recorded their progress as often as possible and, most of the time, checked with them every day. Our gradebook software makes creating rosters super easy, and I made a page for each class that I use to take notes. For some kids, it’s just their page numbers and notes about how they feel about their current books. For others, my substantial readers, it’s a record of our conferences and their answers to thoughtful questions about themselves as readers. My goal is to have more of these types of conferences. Either way, it’s a daily map of the reading lives of each student.
One thing I am not scared to do is move a kid out of a book that I put them in the day before; even if that student was in a different book the day before that and another the day before that. The key to that whole process, thought, is my classroom library. It’s beautiful and I love it. I know it from top to bottom. It holds many books that I’ve read and so many books I haven’t read…yet. It’s crucial that I can take a book out of a student’s hand and hand them a new book on the spot.
For instance, a baseball player, in my second period class, finished Scythe a week or two ago. He even buddied up with one of our Assistant Principals, and they talked almost daily about it. He moved into The Book Thief last week but didn’t connect with it and read 80 pages in 10 days. Friday, he “punted” that book and took home The House of the Scorpion and finished almost half of it this weekend. This story repeats itself over and over in my classroom.
We have to work to get students in the right book and just like with us, sometimes so much depends on what is going on in their lives and where they are emotionally.
I mentioned before how I’m talking books every day. Book talks allow them to plan for the next book and the one after that. I think it’s important that they have a list of books to read next, and the more they internalize this process, the closer they are to being a life-long reader. Of course, I’m here to guide them, but I want to see them seeking the books themselves.
Encouraging and supporting readers with my dedication to their reading lives is probably the most important part of this. Sharing my life as a reader with my students is crucial. They know how I loved Red Queen, and how I struggled with The Hate You Give.
I show them the books I buy, and we conspire to keep it a secret from my wife.
Last week one of my students gave me We Should all be Feminists. She knows I have a daughter and I should take this kind of thinking into account in my life with her. I spent the next several days engaging with this student and her table group around the thoughts I took from the book. They know I read it, and that connection is authentic.
We spend too much class time each week on our independent reading for us to not be “readers.”
It’s my mission to guide them to the life of a reader, and I have to live it as much as I expect them to.
Charles Moore is the chauffeur to a 7 year old diva and loves coaching linebackers and teaching Senior English in League City, Tx. He can never finish a book because his students steal them. Follow Charles on Twitter @ctcoach