Stumbling across a love for Independent Reading

Moving around here and there between grade levels and schools in different countries means I’m often a bit new to one thing or the other and figuring things out along the way.  These past nine weeks have been no exception and I thought I’d share the good things I’ve stumbled across while taking on an end-of-year maternity cover with a fun and rather angelic Grade 1/2 class.

When I came to the school I was told on day one that the Grade 1/2 level was trialing Independent Reading with the students and the next year the whole school would be implementing it.  By the way… the kids have never done it yet this year and you’ll have other teachers coming through to see an example of what it looks like in about four weeks.  Here’s some reading, have fun and do your best.  If you have any questions, feel free to pop in to other classrooms and ask.  It hasn’t been perfect, far from it (I keep finding out things I have missed doing) but by the fact that my rather angelic students almost mutinied on me the other day when we had to cut reading time short and the thinking they are coming up with, I’d say we’ve all learned a lot.  It began by reading a few chapters a week of The CAFE Book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser and trying some of their ideas out along the way (along with Reading for Meaning by Debbie Miller).

Here’s the short version:

I love that….

– you use real reading language and strategies with the students (and they do too – it is great to hear students talking about what they inferred, etc)

– they get to self-select books and learn how to choose books that are right for them – such an important skill

– you get tons of one-on-one time with the students, but also get to meet with them in small strategy groups

– they get to reflect on what they do as readers and share that with others – they’re amazing at it!

– it meets the needs of the individual student where they are at, whether that be struggling or advanced

– you get to teach little things here and there ‘in the moment’ and adapt it to your class needs instead of being the star of the show

– the kids absolutely love it

My basic program

(I may or may not be doing it right – I’m a work in progress and have only started it this term)

– Mini-lesson – 15-20 min

– Independent Reading (individually conferencing with students) – 20 min

– Tracking Time (students write down their thinking, I usually meet and work with one of the strategy groups) – 15ish min

Here’s some tracking from our work with visual images today and a few other things from this term thrown in…

Question on my mind….I try to have a variety of handwritten and typed text up around the room, but when I go into my colleagues’ classrooms they have almost all handwritten.  Our class tracking I usually type on the Smartboard as they’re telling me so I can capture it correctly.  I’ve been working with older ones for a while now, but it made me wonder what balance is best in the classroom for different ages?  Does it make a difference?  Something to ponder/look into when there’s more time…

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