Our goal this year is to build a community of readers. In order to build strong life-long readers, we must foster a true love of reading. Very often students are told which books they must read and when the power of choice is not balanced, students will disengage and reading will become yet another task that needs to be completed. There is a time for structured reading to learn the skills necessary to delve deeper into text, however our end goal is to build a love of reading so that students will continue to read out of enjoyment which will also grow the amount of reading they do.
One of the very first steps in this process is to introduce students to the endless amount of resources available to them and guide them in choosing books that are suitable based on interest and abilities. We are so very lucky to have access to any book in the entire world whether through our local and provincial libraries to thousands of online resources. We have been talking in our classroom about how and where we can find books well as how to know if it’s a book we are interested in and are able to read. This learning process is very important as I don’t want students to be at frustration levels when reading. The end goal is for them to read and read and read.
I’ve begun to introduce them to books they may have never read or even heard of before. The Global Read Aloud that we participated in chooses the top new books by authors from around the world. Students then share their thoughts, reflections and connections with peers also reading the same book. The books chosen resonate with their readers and I continue to read these aloud to the students year long to build that connection and model for them that deep love of reading. When I close a chapter and hear “Awww…no!! Keep reading Miss Ariss, keep reading,” thats when I know those connections have been made. This is the feeling we need to build with our students.
In our classroom, reading is an integral part of everything we do. We have dedicated DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time where students can choose to read independently or with a friend any book of their choosing. We will also be starting Literature Circles as well as focusing on individual strengths and areas of growth for each student in fluency and comprehension.
However, reading doesn’t end at school or in our classroom and so as a class, we created our own private reading community on GoodReads.
For those unfamiliar, GoodReads is the following:
“Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Our mission is to help people find and share books they love.
A Few Things You Can Do On Goodreads:
- See which books your friends are reading.
- Track the books you’re reading, have read, and want to read.
- Check out your personalized book recommendations. Our recommendation engine analyzes 20 billion data points to give suggestions tailored to your literary tastes.
- Find out if a book is a good fit for you from our community’s reviews.”
Students have already joined the community, learned about privacy settings, searched for books of interest and set their own reading goals from now until we come back to school in January. Goodreads can be accessed from anywhere at anytime, it can even be downloaded as a free app on your mobile device or iPod. Students will require the use of school, local and at home libraries to obtain their books/reading materials as Goodreads is not an online reading program. The reasons we will be using Goodreads to track our school and at-home reading are as follows:
- It’s real and connected to the world. Students can share and reflect on what they’ve read with millions of others so that reading isn’t just happening in a vacuum. They learn about differing opinions and have access to titles they may never have had a chance to see.
- They will read and write reviews and recommendations alongside other avid readers. Their opinions will matter and the amount of writing and reading they do will grow.
- They can recommend books to one another after completing them. We all know that when a teacher or parent recommends something students don’t respond as favourably as when their best friend recommends it.
- They will build independence and ownership of their own reading. They will be required to independently provide page updates as they read at home and at at school. Goodreads provides them with a visual to help aid their growth and progress. This will be monitored by me weekly so I can have individual discussions with students. I ask that they read at home and be provided with access to record in their Goodreads account. They can do this at school the following day as well if access is not available.
- Students are very visual and often times pictures will grab their attention faster. Goodreads provides photos of each book so students can look at the cover and even read the first few pages of a book before deciding if it’s one they want to find.
- They can create their own goals and share that with me. I have stressed continually that reading is NOT a competition between them and others. They read for themselves and they share that growth with me. We will have whole group and classroom reading goals that when reached, we will celebrate, however we are a team made up of individuals.
- Our private Goodreads community also allows for group discussions about what we are reading. I have modeled a discussion question and will encourage students to start their own about their reading as we get going. We have also connected our community to other classrooms on Goodreads, one even being in our own Grade 5 team.
- Students will also be asked to create book trailers to review a chosen book they have completed and will post completed projects to their blogs.
I have also stressed that for this, reading material can be of the student’s own choosing. It need not be purely fiction or restricted to just chapter books. The possibilities are endless and I will allow any reading material that can be recorded and students provide evidence of the why and what to me during our individual reading discussions. We want to build the excitement over reading and connecting and that means different things for different students.
As always, I rarely ask my students to do something I myself haven’t done, and so I, along with two other teachers have connected and shared our own accounts and reading goals with them on GoodReads too. We’ve also extended the information to our parents in the hopes they would join us too.
Students need to see, know and understand that reading is life-long and not just a task to be done at school. Are we modelling this to them?