How do you know if a student is really reading during silent reading time? They don't have to be sleep on their book to be tuned out! This has been a challenge for me this year.
You see, in the afternoons I work with a group of students who are all 2-5 years behind in reading. The average student was in 5th or 6th grade and started the year with me reading at the 1st grade level. It has been challenging working with this group of students, but very rewarding.
One of the biggest challenges has been overcoming bad learning habits. Most of the students had learned the following.
- If you tune out in the classroom, but are very quiet and don't cause a problem, you can get away with doing very little.
- If you work slowly enough, you don't have to do much.
- If you look at a book and are silent, no one will notice if you are reading or not.
- I have students touch the words as they read them. (Yes, even 6th grade students)
- Sometimes students whisper read instead of silent reading
- If they are reading off of a piece of paper, I have them underline with a pencil the first time they read the text and underline with a pen the second time they read the text
The other big thing I did with my students was video tape them during silent reading time. After video taping them, we talked about what they noticed. Most students saw a lot of fake reading. Some kids were turning the pages way too fast, other were looking around the room, some were clearly not looking at the book. Looking at the video tape and having a conversation about fake reading was quite effective in changing their behavior.
No more fake reading!