This past week in upstate New York has meant rain, rain and more rain. Understandably, energy has been low in room 30 for myself as well as my fifth graders. On days like these, all I really want to do is curl up with a good book and read . That desire plus my observation that, like the weather, my students’ excitement for reading was a bit sleepy, inspired me to take steps to perk up our reading lives. This week, we engaged in a “reading reboot”!
What is a reading reboot?
Like a cup of coffee on a rainy day, a reading reboot reinvigorates our reading lives. It is a time to reflect on and celebrate who we are as readers, how we have grown so far this year and make plans for our next steps.
Celebrating Books We've Read
In order to reboot our reading, we turned to our Reading and Writing Identity project; a Google Slide presentation students create and maintain listing their preferences, goals, and plans for reading and writing this year. We focused on our slide that pictures the book covers of titles we've read this year.
We took some time to marvel at the number and types of books we’ve read. For students who did not feel that they had a lot, I reminded them to include the read alouds and texts we’ve read together in small groups.
We then reflected on what our choices reveal about ourselves as readers. I displayed my slide demonstrating my preference for realistic fiction. I highlighted a few books outside of my usual comfort zone: namely information texts, biography and fantasy graphic novels.
Seeing the titles we’ve read represented in this way inspired us to set new goals. Most goals had to do with trying books from different genres and increasing the amount of time we spend reading each day.
Discovering our reading rate
Another effective tool for setting reading goals, specifically increasing the amount of books we read, is determining our reading rate for particular books. For this, I turned to a chart that Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher offer in their book, 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents. I explained to students that our reading rate, as determined by the number of pages we can read in 10 minutes, will change depending on the book we read. For example, we may read more pages if the book is a novel in verse or graphic novel vs a book written in prose or a book about a topic that is new to us.
For discovered our rate by doing the following:
1. I set the timer and after 10 minutes of reading, students counted the number of pages they read.
2. Students multiplied the number of pages by 6 to find the number of pages they can read in an hour.
3. Students then figured out how long it would take them to finish the book if they read for a set amount of time a day (say 30 minutes to 1 hour).
4. They used this information to come up with a goal for when they would finish the book.
***A beautiful visual for this formula is available online. Searching a combination of the following words: "Gallagher, Kittle, reading rate" should get you there.
It’s Monday: What are you reading?
In an effort to boost our reading, and build our "to be read" lists, I asked students to post a shelfie (selfie with a book) to our classroom Padlet entitled: It’s Monday, What are you Reading? This weekly check-in helps students to celebrate and share what they are reading.
Though I have had it hanging since September, students have started signing up to give book talks each morning. In fact this is how we start most days. Students stand in front of the room or at their desks and share a book they are reading or have just finished. They know to provide a brief summary and offer some insight into who might like this book using statements such as, “If you like books about friendship and growing up, this is the book for you.” Though reluctant at first, it really only took a few student booktalks to get the ball rolling and give their peers the courage to sign up. After the book talk, students jot down titles of interest on their “To Be Read” list in their reading notebook.
The Benefits of a Reboot
“Ms. Senatore, I finished it!” I looked up from taking attendance to find Emma standing beside me with a grin on her face and book in her hand. After a lot of book shopping, starting and then abandoning, Emma had finally found a book that held her attention. And even though it was a bit difficult for her, she persevered and truly enjoyed it. Emma is not alone. I credit my students’ supportive families and the classroom culture we have created around reading. When we feel ourselves slipping into a reading slump, we return to practices that energize our reading lives and keep us going.