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Are Your Readers Engaged?

Well, the plague is passing...finally!!  I actually stayed up past 8:00 last night!  The bronchitis took the wind right out of my sail...coughing all night and drained of energy all day.  Every day after lunch last week, I felt like I could have curled up in a ball in our class reading corner and went right to sleep. energy is returning and I'm feeling like my old self!!

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:

Check out some of my newest products...momma is so proud!!


Have a wonderful week!
Love and peace,


  1. We just did a whole lesson on three kinds of readers...pretend, dutiful, or engaged. Very helpful visuals for my readers!

    Chickadee Jubilee

    1. I like that...I can see myself doing some role playing with those three kinds of readers. Thanks for popping in to my blog!

  2. Hi Kathy!
    This book sounds like a great resource- I'm looking forward to hearing more about it from you...and then maybe eventually getting it myself. :)
    I try to do a lot with what a "good" reader looks like through examples and non-examples; however I feel like I haven't recently touched on this and my students most likely need a reminder-you're motivating me to get back on my students to make sure they are more engaged also! Thanks!

    Learning to the Core

    1. Hi Aylin!!
      It's that time of year when they need lots and lots of reminders about all that stuff we introduced at the beginning of the year!!

  3. Thanks for the reading engagement sheet. I'm going to try it tomorrow. So if my kids are loud...ALL the time..does that mean they're engaged :) All they do is talk...and I mean always. They are on my last nerve! They are the worst class of listeners that I've ever had. I remember when I was in school...I listened to every word the teacher said and I NEVER would have done something that she said not to. Students these days just don't seem to care. They just do what they want, when they want....ahhh! Can you tell I'm frustrated :) :) I'm so glad you're feeling better. Bronchitis sucks...I usually get it every year but knock on wood...not yet this year :) I'm heading to your store right now to check out all your new products. You always have such great ideas!

    Sparkling in Third Grade

  4. Awww! Thanks Steph!! I agree that students these days act like its your job to entertain them and to keep their attention. I had THAT group of students last makes for a grueling year. Hang in there friend!!

  5. I've got to get that book - do you think it's good for first grade? I'm such a chef's surprise when it comes to guided reading/conferring. I have got to do that inventory...I had the group of kids you have now, and I can definitely believe what you're seeing. The group I have this year...I REALLY think a good many of them are engaged a great deal of the time. I'm almost fearful to hunker down and do the inventory for fear the air is going to squeal right out of my balloon! ;)

    Have a great weekend - glad you are feeling better!

    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

    1. Holly, I do think it would be a worthwhile read for you. J. Seravallo is such a sensible gal when it comes to teaching reading. Much of what she preaches makes a lot of sense and is do-able for any grade level. As far as engagement goes...sometimes I think it depends upon the day and the kid. Most of my kids really love to read and its hard to pull them out of their book...but there are a couple of them that I know aren't getting the enjoyment out of it that they could be...those are the ones I want to reach the most!


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