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Is Independent Reading Obsolete?. Our To Do List…. Examine the research regarding the value of independent reading in school strategies for building an independent reading program that differentiates and provides opportunities for success for all students

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Is Independent Reading Obsolete?

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Is independent reading obsolete

Is Independent Reading Obsolete?

Our to do list

Our To Do List…


  • the research regarding the value of independent reading in school

  • strategies for building an independent reading program that differentiates and provides opportunities for success for all students

  • ideas for assessment of independent reading

  • strategies for classroom teachers and librarians to collaborate to strengthen a school-wide culture of reading

Competition for time

Competition for time

  • Math

  • Science

  • Social Studies

  • Art

  • Music

  • PE

  • Instructional Reading & Writing—to get ready for the big test

  • Rotations for Technology, DARE, Project Adventure, band, chorus, orchestra

  • RTI Instructional Interventions

Who has time to read for pleasure?

Is independent reading obsolete


So imagine this if you will....

You are a librarian in a very small school.

The middle school principal usually gets 21st century libraries and what they can offer.

In your short career there, he seems to be working with you.

Crappy reading test scores come back.

There is a push to bring in $$$ leveled readers ( & the library budget is thin! ) for the 5th graders.

There is talk of taking home backpack book kits of said readers.

You have 15 minutes of face time (tomorrow).

You want to discourage leveled readers and encourage more free voluntary reading (FVR) of self-selected books the kids actually like.

If big money is going to be spent on books, you want it to be for library books.

What are your talking points? (Help!)

Said principal likes bullet points and scholarly research.

You are already looking over Professor Krashen's site.

You read _The Power of Reading_ by Krashen.

You bought the new FVR book at Midwinter, but don't have time to read it tonight. (You are hoping for good quotes in its margins. )

Who has a favorite quote or fact or strategy to share?

Mary Fran Daley, MLIS

Small Town, NJ

Is independent reading obsolete

How Do We Prove Independent Reading

Is Worth the Time & $Money?

Is independent reading obsolete

How can we justify spending instructional time in a student’s day “just reading?” What does the research say about the value of independent reading and particularly IR in the classroom? What do the “experts” say?Does time spent on independent reading actually improve reading skills?

Guiding Questions ??????????????????????????

Defining terms what is independent reading

Defining TermsWhat is Independent Reading?

  • Levels of Reading

    • Frustration Level = comprehending 50% of what is read

    • Instructional Level = comprehending 75% of what is read, requiring teacher guidance

    • Independent Reading = comprehending 90% of what is read without teacher guidance

Ris story

RIS Story…

Independent reading

Independent Reading

The student

Selects and reads a book in their independent reading book level range (Given 20-30 minutes of daily in-school time to read.)

Takes a quiz with 90% comprehension


Selects the next book

The teacher:

Uses assessment data to guide students to select books within their reading zone, collaborates with the librarian as needed to match interest and reading level range.

holds ongoing conferences with students to set reading goals, monitor progress and continually check comprehension

maintains records of books read and checks data to ensure student progress

encourages and celebrates students’ accomplishments.

Reed intermediate school data proof that practice works

Reed Intermediate School Data:Proof that Practice Works!

Is independent reading obsolete

Newtown District CMT 4-6 Grade Cohort Reading Scores 2001-2012 to the nearest whole number)

Is independent reading obsolete

Total CMT Reading Comprehension Cohort Comparison (from CTreports)Current 7th Graders who had two years of formal IR & AR

GradeYearBelow Basic Proficient Goal Advanced At/Above

420081.54.68.5 51.8 33.585.3

520091.03.18.8 60.6 26.5 87.1

62010.51.03.6 46.6 48.2 94.8

  • Percentage of students at/above goal on the CMT Total Reading Comprehension section increased 9.5%.

  • Percentage of students at the advanced level increased 14.7%.

  • Percentage of students below goal decreased from 14.6% to 5.1%.

  • Our reading instructional best practices, including independent reading and assessing independent reading, improve all students’ achievement.

Reed total cmt reading comprehension

Reed Total CMT Reading Comprehension

  • March 2009

  • Grade 5Grade 6

  • Ranked #5 in DRG B Ranked #9 in DRG B

  • March 2010

  • Grade 5Grade 6

  • Ranked #2 in DRG BRanked #3 in DRG B

Is independent reading obsolete

How do you assess?

While it may not be the answer for everyone we did have success with accelerated reader fyi

While it may not be the answer for everyone, we did have success with Accelerated Reader FYI:

  • AR is a web-based assessment tool that holds students accountable for their comprehension of books read independently, for the quantity of the books read and that students are reading books at their appropriate independent level.

  • AR specifies teacher best practices (conferencing with students, teaching students how to choose just right books, setting goals, reiterating reading comprehension strategies as needed, meeting goals)

  • In order for assured student success, AR strongly suggests based on their research, that the program be implemented with fidelity.

The challenges

The Challenges

  • Paradigm shift to success model

  • Taking responsibility for monitoring student progress

  • Educating Staff

  • Educating Parents

  • Educating Students

  • Education Administrators

  • Implementation with fidelity

Is independent reading obsolete

What are your challenges?

The research

The Research

  • 1980 Sadoski --reading is a skill that develops with practice

  • Krashen1994 voluntary reading increases competence and correlates with academic success

  • 2002 National Panel On Reading--no significant support for relationship between time spent reading independently and improved reading skills

  • Lewis (2002) Lewis & Samuels (2005)--students who have in-school time do significantly better on measure of reading achievement

  • 2003 Shue—junior high groups receiving 45 minutes a week made significant gains in reading comprehension, vocabulary and grammar while control group decreased significantly.

  • 2010 “Results for studies of SSR are neither consistent nor particularly clear”…Research in the last decade sparse due to NCLB is forcing “silent reading to the wayside.” Heibert, Elfrieda H. Revisiting Silent Reading, International Reading Association

What do the experts say about

What do the experts say about

  • Best Practices

  • The Importance of Including reading practice in the school day

  • The value of reading real books for enjoyment

Best practice

Best Practice…

“I suggest that teachers actively monitor children’s reading, both by going around the room to make sure children are on task and by asking questions about what children are reading, and encourage children to read books at an appropriate level.” ~Stahl, S.

p. 207, (2004). What do we know about fluency? Findings of the National Reading Panel. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 187-211).

Is independent reading obsolete

The importance of including reading practice in the school day

The importance of including reading practice in the school day

The importance of including reading practice in the school day

Teach Like A Champion: 49 Techniques that put Students on the Path to College, Lemov, D. 2010

“We are what we have read and how we read it, and no other single activity has the capacity to yield so much educational value. And yet students in many schools spend precious little time actually reading.” (p. 250)

“You can always invest any stretch of time, short or long, in meaningful reading and reap a strong and predictable return.” (p. 254)

“I define meaningful reading as reading that is accountable.”…”By accountable, I mean that teachers are able to reliably assess whether student are actually reading…and reading effectively.” (p. 255)

The importance of including reading practice in the school day1

The importance of including reading practice in the school day

The Benefits of Sustained Silent Reading:

Scientific Research and Common Sense Converge,

Elaine M. Garan, Glenn DeVoogd, The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 2008, pp. 336-344.

“Stahl (2004) recommended that students should spend 15-30 minutes of each day reading books of their own choice as an essential component of reading instruction.” (p. 201).

“Consider that in his Fluency chapter, Stahl (2004) also cited Krashen (2001), Berliner (1981), and other researchers who advocated that the more time students spend with ‘eyes on text,’ the better readers they will become.” (p.340)

“Either we believe practice helps or we don’t.”

More on the importance of including reading practice in the school day

More on the importance of including reading practice in the school day

The Benefits of Sustained Silent Reading:

Scientific Research and Common Sense Converge,

Elaine M. Garan, Glenn DeVoogd, The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 2008, pp. 336-344.

“Furthermore, if we really believe that reading is probably not a good idea in school, then why assign it for homework or encourage it at all for the matter? Would any researcher, teacher, or administrator seriously tell parents they should not encourage their children to read because there’s not enough scientific evidence – using a medical model of research- to tell us that it helps? If reading is not worth doing in school, then it’s not worth the sacrifice of family time at home either. Our society values books. Certainly, it would be a betrayal of those values if we did not promote or allow real books and real reading in schools.” (p. 341)

The importance of including reading practice in the school day2

The importance of including reading practice in the school day

The Benefits of Sustained Silent Reading:

Scientific Research and Common Sense Converge,

Elaine M. Garan, Glenn DeVoogd, The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 2008, pp. 336-344.

“The body of evidence on SSR reveals an alignment of research with what the professional judgment of many teachers has determined- Sustained Silent Reading benefits students.” (p. 343)

The importance of including reading practice in the school day3

The importance of including reading practice in the school day

Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading Its Implications for Reading Instruction, National Reading Panel, 2000, pp 12-13

“There has been widespread agreement in the literature that encouraging students to engage in wide, independent, silent reading increases reading achievement. Literally hundreds of correlational studies find that the best readers read the most and that poor readers read the least. These correlational studies suggest that the more that children read, the better their fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.”

Is independent reading obsolete

How does Independent Reading align with…

Is independent reading obsolete

CCSS calls for us to “markedly increase the opportunity for regular independent reading of texts that appeal to students’ interests to develop both their knowledge and joy in reading.”

Books Can be joyful! Even The CCSS uses the “J” word! Rigor must starT with Readers who feel competent and see the Personal value of reading.


Is independent reading obsolete

Independent Reading & the Common Core National Standards for English, Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies and Science, March 2010

#10 Range and Level of Text Complexity

“Read complex texts independently, proficiently, and fluently, sustaining concentration, monitoring comprehension, and when useful, rereading.” (p. 14)

“In grade 5, students focus on reading texts independently in the grades 4-6 text complexity band (70 percent) and are introduced to texts in the grades 6-8 text complexity band as “stretch” texts (30 percent), which will likely require scaffolding.” (p. 14)

I.e. students should spend 70% of their time in independent reading leveled texts and 30% at instructional level text

“To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students must read widely and deeply from among a broad range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts. …Students also acquire the habits of reading independently and closely, which are essential to their future success.” (p. 7)

Is independent reading obsolete

Position Statement from the American Association of School Librarians on the Value of Independent Reading in the School Library Program, July 1999

“…a primary goal of the school library program must be to create life-long readers. It is imperative that school librarians work with teachers and parents to find ways to instill in students the joy of reading while helping them build the reading habit.”

“To become life-long readers, students must have…time during the school day dedicated to reading for pleasure, information, and exploration; schools that create an environment where independent reading is valued, promoted, and encouraged.”

Is independent reading obsolete

Teachers College Reading and Writing Project 3rd, 4th & 5th Grade Reading Curriculum themes, 2008-2009

  • SEPT: “Authoring an Independent Reading Life, and Becoming Lost in Stories”

  • NOV: “Nonfiction Reading and Independence in Reading fiction”

  • DEC/Early JAN: “Maintaining a Varied and Independent Reading Life”

  • JUNE: “Reading Projects: Building a Reading Life”

Independent reading and the newtown public schools strategic plan

Independent Readingand the Newtown Public Schools Strategic Plan

“III. We will develop and implement plans to ensure all staff use effective instructional tools, best practices, assessment data, and intervention resources to improve academic standing, 21st century skills and inspire students to excel.” [E.g. (1) providing Independent Reading and assessments of independent reading, (2) to “use differentiated instruction as a fundamental means of providing appropriate interventions for students”-Action Plan 4]

“V. We will develop and implement a personal success plan for each student that will guide them in achieving academically…[Such as each individual student’s Independent Reading plan and goal]

Is independent reading obsolete

Add titles to AR BookBag to create book lists.

Easily refine your search for any criteria listed.

Search for both Fiction/Nonfiction titles, including Interest Level and ATOS Book Level

Reed intermediate school the value of independent reading

Reed Intermediate SchoolThe Value of Independent Reading

Dr. Sharon Epple, Principal

Mrs. Pamela Kohn, Literacy Specialist

Mrs. Virginia Snowden, Library Media Specialist

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