Monday, July 2, 2012

Reading about Reading

It's all I've been thinking about for the past week... how am I going to teach reading next year?

This will be my fifth year teaching fifth grade and I have not yet found a reading program that works for me or my students.  I want my students to read... a lot.  However, that's easier said than done.  When I was in elementary school, I loved to read!  I would read under my desk instead of listening to my teacher.  My favorites were books by R.L. Stine and the Babysitter's Club series.  My favorite days were when the book order came in (yes, I was that kid). 

Even though these were the days before high stakes testing, my school did have us take the Metropolitan Achievement Test to see how we were faring.  It always became a competition between me and my friend, Heather, as to who could get the highest score.  We always scored in the high school level - which looking back on it, really makes me doubt the accuracy of those tests.   Most importantly, I was always above grade level and I base that on the fact that I read... a lot.

For the past five years, I've been teaching out of our district mandated basal reading series.  The program doesn't allow for a lot of personal choice when it comes to reading.  Some may say that students should be reading at home, but that often doesn't happen for my struggling readers.  I teach in a high-poverty neighborhood.   Many of the parents are concentrating on just making ends meet and most of my students don't even own a single book.  In a neighborhood like this one, the school and teachers can have a tremendous influence on a student's reading lifestyle.  It's actually the reason I teach where I do.  I know my students need me and I know I can have a great impact on them. 

So now I read and think about how to reach them all.  Here are some of my finds:

I found this blog through pinterest.  It is written by two Chicago-area teachers and they have amazing ideas in all curriculum areas.  What caught my eye is this:
Click on the picture to link to the post.  These teachers detail how they keep their records for individual reading conferences, guided reading groups, etc.  I have to admit that the reading workshop model is a little intimidating organization-wise, and this post makes it seem doable.  They base their practice on two seminal reading workshop texts:

I'm reading Reading Essentials currently and I love it!  Regie Routman's philosophy is that we teachers are doing too much busy work and not enough of the practices that improve students' literary achievement.  We keep them busy with too many literacy "activities" and not enough actual reading.  Meanwhile, we're running around like crazy, trying to stock centers and plan activities, that we have no time for evaluating worthwhile assessments that could improve our teaching and move our students forward.  She suggests making an independent reading program at least 30 minutes of your reading block.  I'm thinking that I want to make that happen.  It will be more than just "take out a book and read.":-)

Finally. I'm doing a book study of the Daily Five and the CAFE Book here: 

We Read, We Blog, We Teach

These are fantastic books that detail what students should be doing during independent time when you are seeing groups and also how to structure your lessons to improve student reading.  This book study is led by teacher bloggers and focuses on implementing the Daily Five in the upper elementary grades.   The 100+ comments on each post are a little daunting, but I love reading other teacher's thoughts, especially when I find that they share the same struggles as I do.  I like it even more when others have found solutions to my challenges.


  1. You are doing a great job!! It's sad that kids these days don't read as much. Our lives are just too busy!

  2. Thank you! I know! I believe some kids who don't like reading now can be persuaded with the right books :)