Monday, May 14, 2012
Silent Reading Procedures
I like having my students practice sustained silent reading. So often in special education classes we are so focused on providing direct instruction and therapies, managing interventions or collecting data; it seems like we forget that students need to be able to choose their own literature and read on their own!
My goal for my students this year was for them to be able to choose their own book and read silently (or at least quietly in a whisper) and independently for 20 minutes. Since three of my third grade students started the school year with reading levels below beginning first grade, we obviously had to provide some structure and scaffolding to help them reach this goal.
The first thing you see labeled in this picture is the "book bucket." It is a simple plastic box purchased at Big Lots for about $2. Each student in my room has their own personal book bucket. Within this book bucket we store the child's whisper phone, their sight word rings and Reading A-Z books at their individual levels.
I chose to start our sustained silent reading with book buckets because it was an organizational system that we had previously taught the students in my class. They all had their book buckets and had spent individual reading time with my assistants and me reading the material within. I knew that every child could independently read more than 90% of the material in their book bucket.
The first day I introduced silent reading time, I didn't give them many choices. I asked them all to get their book buckets out on their desks. They were allowed to read anything that was in their book bucket. I then set a screen timer for 5 minutes on the Active Board. We use a free download like this. I challenged them to see if the entire class could read silently until the timer beeped and cut this grid so that it showed only 10 squares and glued it to a piece of green construction paper with the phrase "We can read silently for 5 minutes." They were all required to read for 5 minutes out of their book buckets. When they successfully read for 5 minutes, we put a sticker towards the class goal. After they reached that goal of reading silently for 5 minutes on ten different opportunities, we congratulated them and told them how proud we were of them and that they were ready for a new goal.
After we met that goal, I made another simple grid and set the screen timer for 7 minutes. When we met that goal, I bumped them progressively to 10 minutes, 12 minutes, 15 minutes and then finally 20 minutes.
As they showed they could manage the silent reading, I loosened up on the control a little bit. I would let them choose three books from our classroom library or their library books. (Remember while some of my students are reading chapter books, I still have a group reading first grade level books. I needed them to have enough material that would keep them reading for the full 20 minutes.)
A little bit after that, I loosened up the control even more and allowed them to find personal space in the classroom with a laundry basket, a throw pillow or a throw blanket.
Through each little step, I wanted them to maintain their sustained reading but gradually have it become something that they enjoyed and got to choose rather than something I imposed on them. I'm hoping that this will help them to view themselves as readers and ultimately read for leisure rather than just for work.