Once you have your classroom library set up and ready for check-out of books, you are ready to work on your reading schedule. The main point is that you must establish an independent reading block every day. Ideally it would be at the same time every day, for a minimum of 30 minutes.
A 45 minute or even 60 minute block is optimum for achieving the highest gains with your students’ comprehension and interest levels. One word of caution here, do not break up the time into 15 minutes here, 20 there, etc. Your reading block must be one uninterrupted span of time, and it must be done at school. Do not assign as homework a certain amount of reading time at home. It will not be monitored, and will not be done by those who need it most.
If you are teaming with other teachers, see if they are willing to give a portion of their day in a rotational schedule in order to meet this goal without having to worry about sacrificing all of the time from your classes. For example, you and another teacher could set up a rotational schedule where you both rotate daily, giving up one hour of your subject area instruction so that your students could have that reading block of time. Otherwise, if you are self-contained, or solely teach reading, then you should be able to find the time each day.
Next, establish procedures that students are to follow during this reading time. Once students get into a routine, which takes about 2 weeks, things will flow very smoothly and you will rarely have to remind them of the procedures. For instance, each student should have a reading log. Since there is no assigned reading done at home, the reading logs do not go home.
Once the student has his log, he will fill in the appropriate information, leave the log open on the desk so you can come around and check it, and then begin reading. Logs are again filled out at the end of reading time and then collected for storage until the next day.
To assist students in getting into this routine, on random days, once students have had time to fill out their logs, do a quick sweep through their desks, dropping a piece of candy on those students’ desks who have followed the correct procedure. Other helpful procedures are to have a rotational reading center or comfort zone where each day certain students may sit in a designated area with pillows or on the floor.
No talking is a must as well during this time. When students are done reading a book, they will need to complete a form of assessment before selecting a new book. Finally, in your schedule, know that there will be days when something else comes up and the reading time does have to be cut. On those days, make every effort to find a later chunk of time in the day, even if its not the full amount of time, to allow the students to read.
If that’s not possible, add an extra 10 minutes or so onto the following days reading time to help make it up. Remember, you must provide the time to allow the students to have time to achieve the goals you will be setting for them.
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