The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Sustained Reading

If there is any one thing is this world that I am most passionate about, I think it must be reading.

I really hope that isn’t a shock to anyone at this point.

I doubt it is.

Reading. It is what we do. All day every day, it is nearly impossible for a person to get through a day without reading. Yes, I know there are people who are functionally illiterate, which makes me very sad and very much desirous to find these people and teach them how to read. And yes, I know there are entire cultures that have existed (and probably still exist) where there is no written language. But for a person living in the United States in the 21st Century, reading is the most crucial skill in the world. With the ability to read, a person can go anywhere and do anything. Without it, they are severely limited in their abilities. I want my students to have the skills to conquer their fears, achieve their own personal greatness, and know all about the world while they do it.

Which is why I have them read.

A lot.

Over the past several months, my students have worked on increasing their reading stamina. We do independent reading every day, but I have had mixed results with the sustainability of it among students. I have tried to use the time to meet with reading groups, but what usually ends up happening is most of the students are reading but more than a few get easily distracted and off-task because I am with a group at the back table. Today I had everyone reading at the same time with no group meeting. The students read for thirty minutes without interruption.

It was wonderful. As I moved around the room, I saw my young scholars intently involving themselves in their stories. Some were reading fiction, some were reading informational texts. Some had chapter books, others had graphic novels. But everyone was reading.

A lot.

Sure, they were a couple of hiccoughs along the way. One student got to a particularly funny part of his book and started giggling and had a hard time stopping. This caught the attention of those near him, and they kept trying to hush him. This didn’t accomplish anything more than causing some superfluous noise in the room. I better solution would have been for the students nearby to get some ear muffs to help cancel out the distracting noise. But all in all, it was an excellent end to our day. I am going to look into adjusting my schedule, especially in terms of when I meet with reading groups, in order to allow for this block of sustained independent reading.


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