I have started reading a great new book by Jennifer Serravalo called Teaching Reading in Small Groups. I am struggling with my guided reading groups and have been looking for a better way to move my readers forward in their learning. I love conferring with kids one-on-one and I feel that this is the best way to make the biggest impact with kids. However, finding the time to meet with kids one-on-one frequently enough is a big issue. That is what attracted me to Jennifer Serravalo's book. She proposes a method of doing conference-type work with students in a small group setting. I have really just started the book, so I don't have all the "facts" on how it works yet, but it looks really interesting and seems like a way to be more effective in my reading instruction than a traditional guided reading group.
Click here to buy the book!! (Also available on Kindle)
Anyhow, the second chapter of the book really got me thinking about student engagement in reading. My class is pretty darn quiet during reader's workshop, so one would assume that I have a group of very engaged readers, right? Wrong! Jennifer Serravalo asks the question, "Are they really reading?" In my heart I know I've got some "fakers" in the midst. You know...those kids that can make a really good show of it when it comes time for reading, but seem to linger on that same page for a really, really long time. Or, better yet, that one little darling that flips through the pages, one after another, humming a tune as they go. So I set my denial aside and took a really good look at my readers and found that there were A LOT of them not really engaged at all. This was serious!! This has caused me to think about how I can "hook" those readers that haven't yet found their reading niche. I want all my students to know what it feels like to get lost in a book. I believe that its all about finding the one book that makes a person a reader for the rest of their life...Jim Trelease (The Read Aloud Handbook 2000) calls it a "home-run book." Jennifer Serravalo's book offers many suggestion for how to increase student engagement in reading. As a matter of fact, there's a whole chapter on it!
So, if you're thinking to yourself...not my class..they don't fake it...try out an Engagement Inventory. It is quick and easy and very, very telling. Just sit and watch your students (inconspicuously) during your Reader's Workshop. You will have to give up one day of conferencing or guided reading groups, but it will be worth it. As you watch, keep a class list nearby and write down what students are doing. Are they reading, or looking out the window? Are they reacting to their reading by laughing or opening their mouth in surprise? Or are they looking at you (danger, Will Robinson!)? I whipped up a little freebie for you to make this even easier. Click HERE to get it!! If you try it, please come back and visit me to let me know how it went. Also, I would love to know what you do to help engage your students in reading.
I have begun book clubs and partnership reading recently and have noticed a huge difference in the level of engagement of my young readers. If you would like to try partnership reading, this guide makes it really easy to get started:
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Have a wonderful week!
Love and peace,