Blogs About Reading
Sound It Out
Along with her background as a researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.
Revisiting silent reading
Those of us familiar with the 2000 National Reading Panel report remember that the report did not support teachers' use of silent reading in the classroom. The research evidence that it had any effect on reading achievement just wasn't there. Some school districts and teachers greatly reduced or stopped providing time during the instructional day for silent reading. Other teachers continued to provide daily DEAR or SSR time, citing the benefits of such a practice.
A new book from the International Reading Association, edited by Elfrieda Hiebert and Ray Reutzel, Revisiting Silent Reading, encourages us to rethink silent reading, to consider some advice about it, and to think about how to make it work in your classroom. Chapter 8 provides teachers with good information about four factors related to silent reading. A summary of the information is here:
Student self-selection of reading materials: Teachers should guide students to choose good texts to read during silent reading time. The books should be of interest, should draw from a variety of genre and topics, and should be at an appropriate level — not too easy, not too hard.
Student engagement and time on task during silent reading time: Teachers should keep a pulse on students during DEAR time. Emphasize that DEAR time is reading practice time. It's not indoor recess, but rather it has an important purpose: to provide time to practice reading skills. Read the full chapter for a good description of gossips, wanderers, and squirrels. See if you have any of those in your classroom!
Accountability: Related to the above, accountability is an important piece to silent reading. Several methods of accountability have been suggested, including logs, reader response, and anecdotal records. This seems like a highly personal decision, and it would have to be something easy and quick.
Interactions among teachers and students: It's important to foster teacher-student and student-student conversations about books. Rather than using your DEAR time to read yourself, engage your students in conversations about what they're reading.
There's much more in Chapter 8, and the entire book Revisiting Silent Reading. I encourage you to take a look!