Figuring out how to keep students engaged in learning until the last minute on the last day of school? I know you have lots of tricks in your back pocket. Just want to put in a good word for immersing your students in “free reading” of high-interest nonfiction. Below I’ve shared some tips and a few favorite authors & titles.
A Few Tips
- Make a grand display with dozens of books. The photo above is from a third grade classroom (thanks, Cate), but you could do this in any classroom grades k-8, huh?
- Book talk titles and read aloud a few pages.
- Stand in a circle and do a book pass. Ask students to stand in pairs in a large circle. Give every pair a book. Set your timer. They browse and chat for thirty seconds and then pass the book to their left (or right). After their done, they choose a favorite to keep reading (with a partner or independently.)
- Help students find books they’d be interested in.
- Encourage students to engage in quick, informal conversations with their peers about what they liked about or learned from a book.
- Find books at the public library. I know a lot of librarians are taking inventory. If you need books, raid the public library shelves. You don’t have to look for specific authors. Find the shelf with frog books and take them all!
- Most importantly – encourage the students to have fun–talking, sharing, reading, learning.
A Few Authors/Titles
ANY TITLE BY Nic Bishop and Steve Jenkins AND A LOT OF TITLES ABOUT ANIMALS
BOOKS ABOUT FAMOUS PEOPLE including Barb Rosenstock’s playful versions of historical figures like Ben Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt
BOOKS ABOUT GROSS THINGS LIKE HOW PEOPLE croaked and choked
Hope this helps.
BTW – Sorry I’ve been absent for awhile. I am finishing a manuscript for Heinemann. Hopefully the book will be out next winter. 🙂
Miller & Moss review recent research on independent reading and make a compelling case for bringing independent reading back to our daily practice – a LOT of independent reading (IR) with the teacher present as an “active participant” (p. 39) offering multiple types of support through mini-lessons and conferring – a structured approach to independent reading. The idea that the teacher has to be fully present to learning about and moving her readers forward is a BIG part of the research on effective IR. In addition, students need to develop a reading diet that includes a variety of genres – including informational text. Yes – I’m smiling 🙂
This is a short book – 72 pages plus references and could easily be read by a professional learning group looking for research to support IR and seeking more ways to engage students in IR experiences. (As the authors point out – and less time on calendar, worksheets, transitions, announcements and so forth.) Instructional recommendations include tips for finding more time in the day and building robust classroom libraries.
There is a big emphasis on “choice” or “self-selected reading” (research presented and instruction recommended) – but there’s an underlying message that we should support students in choosing different genres including informational texts (a genre wheel, reading aloud different genres, making different genres accessible). There were two spots in the book when thematic text sets were mentioned (p. 32 and 56), but no discussion of how “choice” works in these instances. I’m playing around with that in my new manuscript – we really need to see more students reading informational texts (history and science vs. pop culture) – independently, for growing amounts of time, with teacher support. I know that if we are reading these books aloud and if we book talk these books, students will want to read them during independent reading. But I’m also thinking through and reviewing literature on how to keep the interest going, the wanting to select from and so forth with a text set. Again – I think reading aloud, book talking and having high quality books makes the difference.
In the end, this book gets a big thumbs up from me. While the recommendations for teaching in this book are light (almost skim-able), the research presented is substantial and thorough and that’s what I found most energizing.