Sunday, June 18, 2017

Independent Reading: Research Please

Do you know what the biggest predictor of reading success in comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency is between second and fifth grade?  

Worksheets?  Nope.

All of the cute TPT activities you have so willingly spent your own money and time preparing? Nope.


That’s right.  I will say it again:  Readers reading books is the best way to increase reading skills.  

Research has proven time and time again that the best way to increase reading achievement is to put books in the hands of readers.  (Anderson, Fielding, and Wilson, 1998)

As educators, we hope that families are helping us by providing a variety of books for our students to read at home.  However, we have big shoes to fill inside the four walls of our classrooms when it comes to books.  

Our students need to be reading, reading, reading.  

Our students need to be reading frequently (more often than not!), for extended periods of time, on topics that interest them.  

If there is one thing that you add to your schedule next year, could it be independent reading time for your students?  

Maybe your school already has a designated reading time.  You might call it DEAR or read to self or maybe independent reading.  We might call this time Reading Workshop!

Call it whatever you’d like!  Students need books in their hands in our classrooms. And in a Reader’s Workshop… we teach readers right before that reading time and give them something to practice, try, think about during reading- thus making it an INSTRUCTIONAL part of the day and not JUST reading.

In a classroom that values independent reading, there are six foundational beliefs that create a reading community. Allington states that (1) every child reads something he or she chooses (2) every child reads accurately (3) every child reads something he or she understands (4) every child writes about something personally meaningful (5) every child talks with peers and adults about their reading and writing (6) every child listens to a fluent adult read aloud.  

Let’s take a moment to break down just the first belief, shall we?

  • Every child reads something he or she chooses.  Yes.  Every child gets to choose books that interest them.  This instantly increases engagement during your independent reading time.  Johnny is no longer trying to throw his scissors in the air because he is excited to read his Minecraft series! Now I’m not saying that I never sneak a guided reading book in a child’s book bag, but the majority of the books students are reading during independent reading time, they have chosen for themselves!

  • Students should pick from a variety of genres.  This means as teachers, we must provide a variety of genres within our classroom libraries.  Now is the perfect time to take inventory of your library.  Make note of the genres you have, the topics. Next, hit up local garage sales, discount book stores, or host a book drive with friends and family to rev up your library.

Sometimes we must teach students using programs that do not support independent reading due to the resources available or the administration's guidelines.  BUT, there is always an opportunity to provide authentic reading for your students.   Afterall, that is what the research points to as the number one indicator of reading achievement.

Don’t believe me? Print off your own copy of the research?  Does someone not believe you? Print off the research and just leave it where they will see it!  This freebie will back up your scheduling decision to add independent reading into your day.  It includes several research-based books and articles that conclude the value of independent reading.  If this is something that interests you, feel free to research further by reading the source itself!

Get your Freebie HERE!

So to recap:  

Let’s provide a space and time for our students to read.  Real, authentic books.

Let’s provide a variety of genres in our libraries by adding to our collections now.

Let’s provide the research to back up our decisions as educators.  


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