While at the IRA conference last weekend, one of the biggest themes I gathered from all of the presenters, was that we need to allow more student choice while reading. I am not in a common core state, but apparently it mentions specific texts as suggestions (?), and so people were concerned that teachers and/or decision makers will see that as a required reading list to teach to.
It was mentioned that as adults, we rarely read things that we do not want to or that we are not interested in. Yet, as kids get older, we give them less and less choice about what to read.
Extrinsic motivators for reading generally seemed to be frowned upon, because they ultimately do not result in a love for reading inside and outside of school, and it was even suggested that they may even inhibit intrinsic motivation from developing.
Apparently the IRA has both a student choice book list and a teacher choice book list. Only ONE book has ever appeared on both lists! Here is the link to the lists.
We should not be dragging kids through books, instead they should be reading things that are interesting to them so that they develop a love for reading. No matter how hard WE work, it is ultimately the student who needs to want to read.
It was suggested to incorporate lots of open ended responses that could be done with any book. For example, if students are writing questions or completing a graphic organizer, they can be working on the same skill using any text they want. The teacher could also narrow the choices down to a particular genre or give a reading group a choice of several texts, etc. to allow for more control but still have the option of choice. Many of the presenters commented that students are often capable of more than we think when they WANT to do it.
It was stated that elementary classrooms need about 1,000 books of wide variety to meet the needs and interests of all the students for the entire year. Thankfully, this is something I have accomplished!
Here's how I incorporate student choice with reading:
*Students have independent reading book boxes to keep books they are interested in
*I have a large library, some of which is leveled and the rest is organized by genre
*I try to rotate books in the library as the seasons change, etc. to keep it fresh
*Students participate in read to self and read to someone, reading whatever books they choose
*I will sometimes have students complete graphic organizers, such as story maps, or identify text features, etc. with any book they choose as long as it is the same genre we are working with (I need to do more of this)
Goals for next year:
*Provide choice in small group
*Start a book review or what are we reading board to develop a community of readers
*Read aloud more to expose students to new books and get them hyped about reading different things
*More independent/partner reading time
*Figure out an organized way to record and track reading conferences
How do you incorporate student choice when it comes to reading?