Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thursday's Teaching Moment: Why I Read Alongside My Students

I'm not going to say I'm really good at always reading alongside my students.  As teachers our minds are always creating check lists of the things we have to do and trying to figure out where and when that will happen.  Usually this is while we're standing in the hall supervising transitions between classes, as we walk down to the copier hoping it actually works so you can have everything copied for tomorrow (or today), and while you're waiting in line for the microwave that seems to be extra slow during your lunch.  So if your students are given time to read silently in your class (and anyone who teaches reading, I hope that this is a standard part of your class already) it's really difficult to not use that time to grade papers.  REALLY difficult.

Last year I made a point of ALWAYS reading with them on Tuesdays--no matter what.  That was okay, but I need to make it a point to do this every day, except on days when I need to meet with students one-on-one (see how this can snowball into all the things for which you can make exceptions).  So this year it's on.  I have three exception: fluencies, check in responses once a week, and one-on-one meetings.  Other then fluencies I will not allow this take up more than 7 minutes of our reading time.  That's half of the time I give daily for reading.

Here are my Top Five Reasons Why I Read Alongside My Students

1) Modeling reading.  Students need to see that you're reading.  Not because they won't believe you, but because you may be the only one in their lives modeling reading.  They should hear you stifle a giggle at the funny parts, see you wipe back that tear as inconspicuously as possible, and watch you go to the dictionary to find out what this word really means.  They need to know what reading and being a good reader looks like.

2) Students should see WHAT you're reading.  Talk to them about it.  I have middle school students so when at school, mostly I read a mixture of middle grade and young adult books.  However I do slip in some adult books that are not appropriate for my kids to read (not because they have inappropriate content, but because they're very much over these kids' head at this point in their lives).  I think they need to know that I don't just read middle grade and YA, though.

3) A chance to talk about what you're reading.  I know.  Silent Reading Time=No Talking.  Mostly.  I still need to talk to students during this time and meet with them sometimes.  I have kids ask me, sometimes during those meetings and sometimes they'll come up to me after class or right after our reading time is over to ask me about a book.  It builds interest.

4) If you're reading, they're reading.  If I am grading the responses that were just turned, why can't little Susie over there work on her Math homework?  Or for that matter, why can't she just sit and twiddle her thumbs?

5) Reading is Important.  If you're trying to get this through your student's heads, then take the time to show them.  Really make it important and make it a time where everyone--even you--is expected to be reading.

And one more reason why reading alongside my students is an essential part of my day:  I get to read!

How do you integrate reading into your classroom?  Do you read with your students?  And what kind of books do you read?  I'm especially curious about with this with younger grades.

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