Monday, July 22, 2013

Read-Aloud Handbook - Chapter 5

It's time for Chapter 5 in our book study of The Read-Aloud Handbook. (For more information about the book study or to catch up on other chapters, go to the book study page.)

Chapter 5 focuses on independent reading, or sustained silent reading (SSR). This is the counterpart to reading aloud. Kids spend a certain amount of time quietly reading alone.

Disclaimer: I'm hosting the chapter that discusses SSR but I'm definitely not an expert in this. In fact, I struggled with this last year. I'm on a learning journey about this and learned some things from reading the chapter.

From a chapter full of great things, I extracted these nuggets--

  • Reading aloud should result in independent reading. Among all the purposes of reading aloud, building a passion for reading is high on the list. That passion should help motivate kids to read for themselves.
  • Reading is a skill. The more you do it, the better you are at it. The less you do it, the more difficult it will be. SSR develops that skill by providing the practice. Reading becomes more automatic. The reader is more fluent as he reads and comprehends more.
  • More reading is a result of high expectations of pleasure from reading and low barriers to reading. The Fraction of Selection was a new concept for me - expectation of reward for an activity divided by effort to get the reward equals frequency of the activity. I can see this applying in areas beyond reading.
  • All kinds of reading material "counts." Reading magazines, books, comic books, and newspapers are all valid. Sometimes we may want to dismiss magazines or "lite" books, but those can develop engaged, passionate readers that will go on to read "heavier" content. I've even used some of this lite reading material in my read-alouds. (See my post on the Spiderman book.) All reading shouldn't consist of this lighter fare but we shouldn't discount it either.
  • As with everything we do, we should always examine why we are doing something. This fact came up with the discussion on programs like Accelerated Reader. Is the purpose to build motivation for reading? Or is the purpose to "increase scores" or find another way to give a grade? 
  • Teacher/parent/adult must be a role-model for independent reading, for pleasure reading. Kids need to see us quietly reading at the same time they are reading. We need to help kids connect with books they may enjoy. We need to talk about books we've read - and talk about them passionately. And we must be passionate about reading if we want kids to feel passionate.
Reading - Brick by Brick

So, how will my practice change/improve?
  • I will include time each day for independent reading. I need to communicate my expectations and practice with them. We need to start with a short timeframe and work up.
  • I will read a book for pleasure while they are reading. I'll sit at the front of the room and read instead of do other things. I won't read an adult novel (although that would be okay) but I will read some chapter books or other "advanced" books to pique their interests.
  • I will talk about books, in both more formal and informal settings. I will ask kids individually and in groups about the books they are reading. And it won't always (or even usually) be for testing comprehension. So much discussion I've led about books has been for assessment or recall. That's important, but we need to talk about books like we talk about their families, their TV viewing, and their toys.
There's so much more in this chapter. In the comments below, note what spoke to you, especially if it's something that I didn't mention. Or write your own blog post and add it to the linky below.

(Next up: Chapter 6 will be hosted by Vanessa on Pre-K Pages.)


    1. In my pre-k classroom we have independent reading time right after snack. It is a great transition time. I sit with the children and some of them read on their own and some want me to read to them. I usually have about 6 copies of a book that we have been reading during our large group time. Those books are the ones that are chosen first. We do this every class session.

    2. I have never tried SSR or independent reading as a class time period with my pk children. What a disservice I have done with my kids. They always have access to books and often during transitions they choose books to read, however, as a practice for everyone in the room to be reading, this has not happened. I am trying this procedure beginning with baby steps and working into a longer time frame. I've just shared with my assistant and told her to dust off her books!
      I enjoyed the section on AR as this has always been a sore subject at our school and our media coordinator is working on ways to improve the system. She is aghast at the teachers who use this as a way to get grades and not seeing the children reading for the share LOVE of reading.

    3. I do SSR at the beginning of my sessions. The children read quietly to themselves or each other while the other children arrive at school. This is always hard at the beginning of the year because they don't know what to do with the books. I need to model this before it is expected. Also, my classes do reading buddies with a 4th grade class and I need to model how to read aloud to the students as well as read myself or with a group instead of doing other things at that time. I have always thought it was important for my daughter to see me and my husband reading, so why not let the kids see me reading as well.

    4. I would love to do SSR in the classroom,but have had a hard time all year getting my students interested in reading books.I am implementing Jim Trelease's method of improving children's attention spans for read aloud because I am sure many of my children do not get read alouds at home. I started today with the books he suggested for children who haven't been read too. Tikki Tikki Tembo went over verily well in our read aloud today.

    5. Great summary of SSR. I love the evidence that SSR can be a determining factor in vocab building more than basal textbooks, indicating rare words were found in printed materials more than conversations as well. Using our imagination is so highly ignored with new age technology. It seems that belief in increases of white matter found correlated directly with the amount of increased time spent reading in the classroom and out proving that brain development increases when involved in a good book. There is hope for the our children in a good book!

    6. What spoke to me most in this chapter was Trelease's comments on "forcing children to read." I especially loved this comment, "if you require a child to pick up her room or brush her teeth, but don't require her to read, then it could be said that you think household and personal hygiene are more important than the child's brain cells." I think this could be a very powerful realization for parents (I know it was for me).