WHY Independent Personal Choice Reading? As teachers, we believe in the power of reading. The reading experience has enhanced our lives and we want the same for our students. Traditional guided, shared text learning experiences, help students develop the skills necessary to unpack and make meaning from complex and well crafted writing, in addition to fostering an appreciation for quality literature. However, if all reading instruction is guided in this manner, students miss the opportunity to develop their confidence as readers, reading text which they can read independently and effectively, without the scaffolds.
WHYPersonal Choice? In addition, we know that reading fluency is developed through continual reading practice. Personal choice fosters participation: by allowing students to read what they want to read, they will read more!
Can personal choice, independent reading also foster Close Reading skills? Yes! Think about your own experience reading. You are more likely to take the time and make connections when your reading something you care about.
Ideas for Promoting Personal Choice, Independent Reading
Reading PlanHow: Start by having students reflect on and journal about their past effective, and possibly not effective, reading experiences: where they like to read, what time of day, for how long at one sitting and what they've enjoyed reading. Ask them to think about why they like to read or why they want to like to read. Based on their past success, have them create a reading plan for when, where and for how long they plan to read. Also, have them choose a few "next reads". Why it works: It's a way for students to scaffold their own reading experience, it gives them a concrete way to move forward and allows them ownership of the process.
Student Book Talks. Book Talk Hooks A-Z via Brad Gustafson.How: Students sign up for weekly book talks. They present a short summary of the book they read. We’ve been video recording student talks with ipads and students use recordings to self access their presentations. In addition we upload book talks to QR codes and attach to photos of students holding books around the library. Why it works: It’s authentic and purposeful. It creates talk about books. It meets additional CCSS for speaking/presentation skills. There’s an audience! It allows students to estimate the time needed to finish a book and a goal time for finishing.
Silent in Class Reading. How: Everyday, a few times a week, 5, 10, 15 minutes…whatever you can fit in. Why it works: It provides a model for at home/after school reading. Students realize reading is a priority!
Sticky Note Connections. How: Students mark text throughout the book when they have questions with their own understanding, author’s purpose, or characters’ thoughts or actions; when they’re psyched by what a character does, when they especially like the language of a particular passage, etc. Text to self, to text and to world too. Why it works: It highlights their relationship with the book. It makes reading an active activity.
Conferencing.How: Teachers conference, one-to-one, with students about their reading. This may take place during independent reading time or during other learning activities. They talk about the book, sticky note connections etc. Why it works: Students feel honored in sharing their reading with their teachers. It gives teachers another opportunity to access student reading ability and understanding.
Teacher Book Talks How: Teachers share what they’re reading in book review fashion. Why it works: It gets students interested in books. It works to model book talks. Students see that teachers are reading and enjoying the process!
Book ClubsHow: Students choose titles from books of which we own multiple copies. They meet in small groups to plan and discuss their reading. Book clubs can begin similar to Lit Circles: structured book clubs, where each student has a particular role and responsibility and as students gain confidence and experience students can be more responsible for planning and discussing. Why it works: Book clubs are authentic-they are a real world experience both in and out of school; they're social and get kids talking about books; they give students autonomy for creating group rules and procedures learning to work collaboratively; they motivate students to read!
The Book Whisperer's 40 Book Challenge- Donalyn Miller, the author of The Book Whisperer, is a fifth grade teachers who challenges her students to read 40 books during one school year. Her complete methodology can be found in her book, but basically students are asked to read a certain number of books by genre in addition to free choice. Holly Mueller reflects on the experience of the 40 Book Challenge in her classroom
Lit LettersHow: Students randomly select another student from class and write them a letter about their reading, including: a friendly greeting, a short summary, what they like or dislike about the book they’re reading and why the the person they’re writing might like or dislike what they’re reading, a quote and explanation of its importance. Why it works: To personalize the reading experience; sharing books is authentic!
Blogging About BooksHow: Set up a Class Blog (I can help you with this!) which students use to write about what they're reading. Book review guidelines can be set up similarly to those found HERE. Book reviews can also be posted to Destiny for all students to utilize when choosing their next best read. A number of sites found HERE also promote student contributions. Why it Works: It's authentic: blogging about books helps others find their next best read. It involves writing! It's empowering for students o keep track of what they've read.
What I'm Reading WallHow: Create a wall/bulletin board with student names and pics and a place to fill in what they're reading. Why it works: It's social, it's about sharing, it's learning about each other through books and it gives students a sense of ownership, responsibility and achievement.
Partner ShareHow: Have students sit in two circles, one circle inside the other. Give each student a few minutes to talk about their book with their partner and then have outside or inside circle move in one direction so that everyone has a new partner...Repeat. Why it works: It's personal, social and it's about getting to know each other through books.
Quote WallHow: Have students pull favorite quotes/lines from the books they read and post them on a wall or bulletin board. Use quotes/lines for quick writing prompts. Why it works: It gets kids to think about words. They'll love when their quote is chosen as a prompt!
Personal Choice Text SetsHow: Survey students for possible areas of interest. Gather small groupings of resources (print or digital) of news articles, short stories, stand alone book chapters or picture books organized by area of interest (content), point of view, platform, reading level etc. Model choosing text set, in class reading behavior, and possibly note-taking strategies such as sticky note connections (see above). Give students in class time to read. Why it works: Great way to promote informational text reading based on student interests. Gives students a chance to learn about a topic without feeling overwhelmed by available resources or length of text. Promotes a purposeful, real world, (authentic), reading experience. See Personal Choice Reading Across Content Area Classes.
Wall of ReadingHow & Why it Works: Decorate your walls with the books you've read and want to read. See this Nerdy Book Club Post
Book Journals rather than Reading logs How: Model and encourage students to record "reactions" to reading, "I can't believe he did that!" "I'm loving this part when___ because____" "I have to share this with____" in one place that they can get back to in the future. This place could be a paper or online journal, blog or website. Why it Works: It's authentic because it's meant for personal use for reflection and sharing rather than logs which are meant only to prove that students read.
Book Trailers How: Share book trailers and ways to access trailers with students. See Book Trailer Academy Awards for complete details for Student Created Trailers. Why it Works: Students are encouraged to read by trailers because they share books in an enticing manner. Students are encouraged to read and close read when reading, discussing and creating together!
Tweets PostsHow: Have students share daily/every other day tweets about particular aspects of or reactions to, (could be teacher prompted, ie I wonder if____), their book to a shared hashtag. Why it Works It's real world, (we share on social media!), occurs throughout the reading process.
Book SnapsHow & Why it Works: Take a look at Book Snaps to get the full story!
Beyond the Book Report Ways to respond to literature using the NYTimes model. HOW:from the NY Times Learning NetworkWhy these Work: These ideas are engaging and participatory; I especially like: Judging the Book by it's Cover, Shot on Location, Bring the Beat, Book Blurbs on Blogs, and The Graphic Novel Version.
Fan FictionHOW: Have students create alternative endings, additional plot scenarios or spin offs. Better yet, have them add their work to one of the Fan Fiction sites found HEREWhy it Works: It's creative and participatory.
Quotes HOW: Students choose quotes from the book that best illustrate the author’s message, insight into a character, etc and explain why they chose what they chose! Why it Works: It requires critical thinking and argument skills, supporting a claim with evidence and reasoning ,"this quote exemplifies_____ because______".
TimelineHOW: Students use a timeline creation tool, See Creation Tools to record story events, new characters etc. as they happen. Why it Works: It occurs throughout the reading process.
Flipgrid Predictions HOW: Students record predictions prior to reading. Why it Works: It fosters making thinking visible strategies, in addition to providing anticipatory engagement.
Recap/Flipgrid ConnectionsHOW: Students record connections as they read. Why it Works: It fosters active participation throughout the process, making thinking visible, and the means for process reflection.