Independent reading
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Independent Reading. By: Danelle Keninger. One of the most important procedures for managing independent reading is to establish a routine. I have adapted a routine in my classroom from The book Guiding Readers and Writers grades 3-6 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell.

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Independent Reading

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Independent reading

Independent Reading

By: Danelle Keninger

Independent reading

One of the most important procedures for managing independent reading is to establish a routine. I have adapted a routine in my classroom from The book Guiding Readers and Writers grades 3-6 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell.

This procedure takes about a month to get going in my classroom, but once implemented it works very well. Two important goals to independent reading is to help your students think of themselves as readers, therefore they need to be reading books they enjoy. Goal two is to establish a routine for independent reading.

Selecting books

Selecting Books

  • Share with your class how your classroom library is organized.

  • Show students how to check out books.

  • Discuss reasons to choose books. Make a chart to hang up on the wall of different reasons we choose books such as we like the author, the cover, read the back, read other books in the series, like the genre, it’s a new book, heard about it, need to read it for school work.

Reading is thinking

“Reading is Thinking”

  • Make a poster that says “Reading is Thinking”

  • Explain to the class that today we will have quite a bit of time for reading and that reading is thinking and you can do your best thinking when it is quiet.

  • After the students have silently read finish the poster by adding what the students were thinking about while they were reading- I wonder what will happen next, this reminds me of, I was scared, happy, sad, surprised when…

Choosing books

Choosing Books

  • Getting your students to pick the right books is very important, students should read “just right” books, while sometimes easy and challenging books are ok to read also.

  • Make a chart with 3 columns labeled easy, just right, and challenging fill in with characteristics about those types of books. For example font sizes of each, pictures, difficult words, and confusing are some things my students bring up.

Thinking and talking about your reading

Thinking and Talking about your reading

  • Share with your class things that you are thinking about while you are reading. Use a specific example of a book and what you thought about while reading that book.

  • Tell the class how they will be thinking as they are reading and different things they might be thinking about, write these on the “Reading is Thinking” poster.

  • Have the students mark two places with sticky notes that made them think about something while reading.

Group discussions

Group Discussions

  • Discuss with your class how they can talk with each other cooperatively.

  • Make a poster (with your guidance) of some simple guidelines about sharing with others.

  • After a group discussion about how well the group shares went and things they can work on.

Abandoning books

Abandoning Books

  • Once in a while student abandon books and this is ok.

  • Hold a group discussion about why readers abandon books and when it is ok to abandon books.

Genres of books

Genres of Books

  • Distinguish between fiction and non fiction.

  • Discuss different kinds of fiction.

  • Discuss different kinds of non fiction.

  • Show examples of the different kinds of each.

Keeping a record of your reading

Keeping a Record of your Reading

  • Provide your students with a reading journal- I divide mine into 3 sections one for a reading log, one for journal letters, and the third is for book clubs. (something I am not mentioning)

  • In the reading log have the kids divide their page into 5 columns labeling them: title, author, date started, date completed, and genre. Show students how to fill this out, I often have my kids highlight the books they completed so I know how many they have read and if they are abandoning lots.

  • Tell your students it is important to record all the books they start in their reading log- even novels the class reads.

Guidelines for readers workshop

Guidelines for Readers Workshop

  • Each day for a set amount of time will be readers workshop.

  • Discuss and make a poster a guidelines for the class as what is expected during this time. Let the students have input on this.

  • Guidelines can include:

    • You must always be reading or writing in your reading journal

    • You need to work silently

    • Use a soft voice when talking with the teacher

    • Select books that you will enjoy and don’t abandon them until you have given them a chance

    • List your book information in your journal

    • Always do your best work

Written responses to reading

Written Responses to Reading

  • Share with the class that not only will they share their thinking orally in groups or as a class but that they will also be writing about their thinking.

  • Share with the class an example friendly letter where you share what you might be thinking about while reading.

  • I always remind my students that their weekly letter to me must look like a friendly letter with all the parts of a friendly letter and also include the title and author of the book they are reading.

  • Hang a poster up which has students assigned to what specific day of the week their journal letter is due and also that they can’t just write one or two sentences that does not give me enough information about them as a reader.

  • Be sure to write back each week to the letters, and share your thoughts on their reading. Also share what you are reading and what you are thinking about your reading.

Using sticky notes

Using Sticky Notes

  • In a previous lesson we discussed having the students use sticky notes to mark places they were thinking while reading.

  • Provide each student with their own sticky notes (1x1 works best).

  • Discuss with the class coding you could use to mark on their sticky notes to remind them why the marked it. (T=T reminds you of another book, a smile face could mean funny and so on)

Editing your journal response proof reading using punctuation

Editing your Journal Response* Proof reading *using punctuation

After the first week or so of journal writing I do lessons on

proofreading and using the correct punctuation. I often show letters written without punctuation and that are not proofread and allow the students to correct these letters. I then explain my grading system for letters, the students get 1 point for having all the required parts of a friendly letter, 1 point for the author, 1 point for the title of the book and underlining it, 5 points for content, and 5 points for punctuation and proofreading. I remind the students of these requirements and post a rubric in the room as a reminder. Sometimes I read Punctuation Takes a Vacation with the class as a reminder as to how important using the correct punctuation.

Independent reading

Usually when I teach independent reading to my class I teach each one of these things separately one per day. I allow 20 minutes of independent reading each day and two or three times a week small group or whole class discussions and share. I remind the students daily of reading guidelines and usually after a few days they are doing very well with this. I have adapted this to fit my classroom from the book and strongly suggest you read the book and find out what works for your classroom. Overall I have found this works very well for my classroom and my students are reading more than ever. This has resulted incomprehending more of their reading.



  • Fountas, I, & Pinnell, G (2001). Guiding Readers and Writers.Portsmouth: Heinemann.

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