Monday, February 22, 2016

How Much Do Your Kids Read?

Last week, I received three emails where teachers all asked the same question: how much reading is happening in your classroom?

The answer is: it depends. But, usually, quite a bit!

We begin each day with a 10-minute reading "do now." This is basically like D.E.A.R time, where the students are reading and I am reading, too (currently, I'm on the third book of the Maze Runner series... not really a fan, but I can't NOT finish the series!). We do this The room is silent. I set the timer. Everyone reads. Kids can read anything they want... novels, magazines, comic books. The only objective is 10 minutes of silent, self-selected reading time. 

I also want to note that there are no requirements for this time. No worksheets, journals, forms to fill out. No book reports or projects. Absolutely zero accountability!! And guess what? The kids LOVE it!! So much so that, every day without fail, there is a collective "sigh!" when the timer sounds! On early dismissal days, I let them read the whole 30-minute period. And every once in a while, I let them talk me into "silent reading Friday."

What about the kids who hate reading? you wonder. Well, I am a book-pusher! I will not take "I just hate to read!" as an answer... ever!! I will not stop until I find a book for every kid (try the Bluford series... it's never let me down!! Seventh graders who've never finished a book in their lives will devour this series!! Trust me! Just check them out before hand... a few have some dicey material that you should be aware of!). And if that doesn't work... we do books on tape. They listen on headphones and read along with a copy of the book. They LOVE this because they think they're not really reading... hehehe!! 

Now, in addition to our 10 minutes daily, there are some days where they have to read a story or article from their anthology.

Additionally, we are sometimes reading a whole-class novel (we just finished Ungifted... it was a HUGE hit!). When we do whole-class novels, I read aloud (I'm the voice master!) and they follow along with their own copy. Sometimes there is work that they do for the whole-class novel... sometimes we just read it for the pure pleasure of doing so (and to hear me do the voices!!).

And then sometimes, students are reading a book that they picked and committed to read in a given time span. Usually, they have a reader's response journal that they are responsible for completing.

So, to make a looong story short... we read... a lot! And often, just for fun. No accountability required. It took me a while to get here. For a long time, I wondered if not having them document evidence of their reading EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY READ A WORD was a problem? Like I was doing something wrong or not being a good teacher if there wasn't always a worksheet or journal entry to go along with their book. But, over time, I realized that if my ultimate goal was to foster literacy, then I needed to give them a chance to practice being literate! And I don't know about you, but a worksheet would certainly hamper my decision to curl up with a good book on rainy Sunday afternoon!

So how much do your students read? I'd love to hear from you!

Happy Teaching!! 


  1. I love this. I am currently pushing independent reading time in my 6th grade class and the evidence of how great it works is very exciting!!!

  2. This is extremely encouraging, and amazing to read! I'm a college student on my way to graduation, and reading your blogs makes me even more excited for my teaching days to arrive. Thank YOU! (: You sound like an amazing teacher, and I'm sure you are a phenomenal role model for your students.

    1. Awe, thanks, Britta! Best of luck to you with finishing school and then landing your first job! Enthusiasm is a great quality in a teacher and it sounds like you have a lot of it!!