Cultivating Reading

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This semester I have lofty goals to turn my English 11 students into readers.  I want to quiet their grumbles when the word “read” comes up.  I want a look of joy and excitement to sparkle in their eyes when they hear about a new book.

Okay, perhaps I’m getting a little ahead of myself here.

You know what I really want? I want at least a couple kids to read a whole book of their own choice and….like it!  That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

So, here are my disorganized thoughts:

  • I will ask students to read 50 pages a week.  Now, this will mostly be on the honor system but I will ask them to check in regularly with page numbers and have them bring their books to class for any down time.
  • I will ask students to join Goodreads.com.  This way, we can share our books, our reviews, etc. and I created a “book club” group for our class.  We’ll see how we do using it, but I’m excited about it right now!  
  • I’ve written a letter to parents to ask for their help with this endeavor.  Here is the letter I wrote.  I really want parents to be on board so that students can be encouraged from both school and home.  
  • I’m having my students take an SRI test.  I am not sure about this, but it only takes 20 minutes and at the end it suggests books at the student’s reading level.  I think, if nothing else, it will be a good starting point.  Our school really likes data, so I hope to be able to see some improvement from this test and the results at the end of the school year.  
  • I will have students write “reading letters” every so often.  I found this idea on Pinterest (link to the blog post it came from).  While I think this idea is meant for younger kids, I think it can easily be adapted to my 11th graders.  My students use composition notebooks for daily warm-ups, and I think we will use them for this assignment as well.  I plan to write letters about my books as well, so students see models and know what I’m reading.  My only rule will be that students cannot summarize their book.  They will just be sharing their thoughts about characters, events, etc., making connections to life, or whatever.  
  • For now, the only stipulation I have about book choice is that they can’t choose a book that’s been made into a movie.  I hesitated to do this because there are some good books that have been made into movies, but for at least the first several weeks I’m keeping the rule. I may ease up when kids get a couple books in. 
I haven’t gotten terribly far yet, except to create a version of the letter I sent to parents for students and a FAQs handout.  I just know that I want to help my students become better readers.  I’ve implemented AoWs.  Which they seem to actually like.  We’ve had amazing discussions and responses to the AoWs, and of course we read assigned stories, essays, poems and novels that have been assigned.  This will be the first time I ask them to read something they just want to read.  I don’t want it to become a book project / report / assignment / etc.  I want it to be enjoyable.  
Fingers crossed. 
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