My students love the part of Reader’s Workshop where they get to choose their own books and read silently for half an hour every day. Most of them are good readers, and the rest are at least competent. Not all of them love reading, but they can do it.
Part of the workshop format is to conference with students. I enjoy meeting one-on-one with my students in writing conferences, but I found reading difficult to conference about. I can SEE what they are writing, but I can’t SEE what they think about as they read. Nonetheless, together with each student we chose an area of reading to focus on for the near future.
Today I met with my people. These are the kids who can read all the words fluently and understand what they read. They have chosen to focus on vocabulary. Their first strategy was to pay attention to new or interesting words, or familar words that were used in unusual ways.
Yesterday, one of these students came up to my desk during reading time, thick book in hand, eyes wide. She said, “Mrs. Ulleseit, read this paragraph!” The book was The Hobbit, by Tolkien, and the paragraph was a descriptive masterpiece. While I was reading, the student said, “Look at all those wonderful verbs!” Yes, this is why I teach.
So today, I met with her and the other twelve students in my class who are proficient readers. I had a new strategy for them that I knew they’d love. No binders needed, I told them. They wouldn’t need to take notes on this one. They waited expectantly, some of them with all four books they are currently reading on their laps. I told them if they were truly going to be able to experience language, they needed to read voraciously. That’s the strategy. I repeated, READ VORACIOUSLY. They smiled. I knew they’d like it.
This group represents almost half my class, and I am proud of what they are able to read and how they are able to discuss their reading. It’s a nice boost to meet with them while I am struggling to figure out how to reach the readers that are less proficient…but more about those readers in another post. Today is about celebrating proficiency.
So go read voraciously!
On my Kindle: Trickster’s Choice (Aliane) by Tamora Pierce