Saturday, May 21, 2016

What Matters Most? Reading Volume!

This week I attended a session on Content Literacy with Stephanie Harvey. One of the points that Stephanie touched on is the importance of reading volume. I speak to this all of the time with the coaches and teachers in my district. Research shows that nothing is more highly correlated to reading achievement than volume and we are simply not giving our students enough time to read each day- especially our kids that need it the most- they are getting less time than any other group.

Several years ago, I read Richard Allington's (2012) book, What Really Matters for Struggling Readers. In the book he writes about the importance of reading volume, the amount of time children need to read daily, and ways to capture more academic time for reading. At that time I was still in the classroom, so I coupled Allington's work with Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer and knew I needed to do something in my classroom to increase the amount of reading volume for my students. 

The Book Whisperer helped me understand why I needed to increase reading volume and choice with my students and The Daily 5 (Boushey & Moser, 2006) showed me how I could implement these ideas with my kindergartners. My students were more engaged and grew far more as readers using The Daily 5 model than they did working in literacy stations. 

Using The Daily 5 model, I implemented "Read to Self" on the first day of school by talking about what a reader looks like and people that we know who read. The Daily 5 was my starting point for increasing reading volume in my classroom. You can read more about how I put the Daily 5 into action in my classroom here and you will find a few additional posts about work on writing and using CAFE here

Allington (2012) recommends that children spend at least 90 minutes a day actually reading. This is far more time than most students get. In some cases, it is 90 minutes more. So... that leads to the question "How can you carve out time during the busy school day for students to read?"

A few ways to increase reading volume during the school day...

- Implement The Daily 5 or Reader's Workshop

- Have students take a book with them wherever they go. A few stolen moments add up over a year. Doing this helps young readers learn what life readers know- having a book with you at all times helps alleviate boredom and is just what you need for those unexpected times you have to wait. 

- Get rid of "morning work", Bellringers, and "when you are done" activities- these types of activities yield limited instructional benefits and none of them produce the same level of academic power as 15 minutes of time spent reading
students can read when they come into the classroom in the morning

students can read when they are finished with their work

As much as 15 minutes of extra reading time can be gained in class each day by naming reading the only activity for any class time not used for instruction and practice. 

- Rethink your guided reading time. How much time do students actually spend reading during your guided reading lesson. Group students by strategy rather than reading level. Do a quick mini-lesson, then let students read. You can walk around and listen to each one and confer with them individually as needed.  

- Broaden your definition of reading- articles, graphic texts, and screen reading all count

- For younger readers- incorporate shared reading and read-alouds all throughout the day and across all content areas

Time is not the only factor in increasing reading volume. Choice plays a part as well. No single practice inspires students to read as much as the opportunity to choose the books they read. Allington and Gabriel (2012) found that students' volume of reading and understanding of text read increased when they were able to choose what they read. 

classroom libraries are central
lots of books, every level, every topic
books should be readily accessible to students

A little bit of the research on time...
Reading books every day is the only activity that reliably relates to proficiency in reading (Atwell, 2010).

Voluminous reading has been proven to be an effective intervention for struggling readers as well as the most effective test preparation for all students (Allington & Gabriel, 2012). Did you read that?? and the MOST EFFECTIVE TEST PREPARATION FOR ALL STUDENTS!! Not packets... but volume of reading. 

Heavy reading is the best predictor of school success. We know that students who read the most perform the best on standardized tests, not only in reading and writing, but in content classes such as science and social studies, to. (Miller, 2012)

Access to books and time to read can even lessen the effects of poverty on literacy development (Krashen, 2011). 

Increasing Volume Through Content Literacy
Another way to increase volume is to read across all of the content areas. A new edition of the Comprehension Toolkit is set to release at the end of August. This new edition will contain lessons and texts for comprehension across the curriculum. The lessons in this book are great for getting kids reading on a wide range of topics and for getting them thinking about the new information they are learning- thus turning the new information into knowledge. You can learn more about Stephanie's new book here

Something to stop and think about...
How are you using your time during the school day? Are you filling it with meaningful instruction and activities? Are your students getting time to read?

What are you doing for your developing and struggling readers? Are you giving them more skills activities to work on or are you giving them time to read?

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