Independent Reading and Reading Response
“There are few ideas more widely accepted than that reading is learned through reading.”--National Reading Panel, 2000
Where in the day do students have the opportunity to learn more about reading by reading?
During independent reading! • “Independent reading is a context within which children can see themselves as readers and build habits that can last a lifetime.” --Fountas & Pinnell, 2006
What researchers say… • Richard C. Anderson concluded from his study on the role of independent reading of trade books in children’s reading achievement “that wide independent reading makes substantial contributions to children’s present reading achievement and their growth as readers over time.” --Linda G. Fielding, “Point of View: Richard C. Anderson,” Reading Researchers in Search of Common Ground • “The importance of reading as an avenue to improved reading has been stressed by theorists, researchers, and practitioners alike, no matter what their perspectives. …it is generally agreed that practice in reading develops better readers.” --National Reading Panel, 2000 • “When children are given adequate time to engage with texts on a daily basis, their improvement in literacy development is substantial.” --Tony Stead, in Good Choice! Supporting Independent Reading and Response K-6 citing Stephen Krashen, The Power of Reading • “Not only does having access to trade books motivate students to read, it also increases their reading achievement.” --Guthrie, Schafer & Von Secker, 2000
…and the professional literature confirms… • “A longstanding, highly respected body of research definitively shows that students who read more, read better, and have higher reading achievement.” --RegieRoutman, Reading Essentials • For more specifics on the importance of independent reading, consult: • Allington, What Matters for Struggling Readers • Allington, “What I’ve Learned About Effective Reading Instruction from a Decade of Studying Exemplary Elementary Classroom Teachers,” Phi Delta Kappan • Fader, New Hooked on Books • NAEP Trends in Academic Progress Report • Scholastic, “The Impact of Trade Books on Reading Achievement” a combination of two articles by Dr. D. Ray Reutzel and Susan B. Neumann • Taylor, Pearson, et al., “Beating the Odds,” CIERA Report #2
…is that independent reading matters. What makes it so essential to successful reading development?
Why Independent Reading is Essential • The “independent reading” referred to and solidly supported in the research… • …is an integral part of a comprehensive literacy framework. • …provides daily time for sustained reading. • …offers choice while matching readers with just-right books. • …invites wide reading with a well-stocked classroom library. • …is purposefully structured and well-monitored by the teacher. • …is a meaningful experience surrounded by literate thinking and talk.
Independent Reading as Part of a Comprehensive Literacy Framework • Independent reading is planned practice. • Independent reading completes the gradual release. The teacher releases responsibility to students for applying new learning. • Students have the time they need to orchestrate the strategies and skills they are learning during read aloud and shared reading. • Teachers have the time they need to confer with readers, monitor progress, and continue the cycle of teaching and learning.
Without independent reading, where will students practice? If you were taking tennis lessons, and your instructor skillfully showed you how all the things you needed to know but never gave you time to practice, how effective would you be in putting it all together and becoming a tennis player?
“When we teach reading, we are teaching children to do something. Children can’t learn to swim without swimming, to write without writing, to sing without singing, or to read without reading.” --Lucy Calkins, The Art of Teaching Reading
The Importance of Sustained Reading • When given opportunities to read for extended periods of time, readers get better at reading by: • Reading more—quantity matters! • Making reading a habit—it’s daily and predictable • Reading widely—readers have time to immerse themselves in a variety of genres, authors, and topics • Building fluency • Expanding vocabulary and background knowledge that supports comprehension • Nurturing a sense of inquiry and desire to learn—developing expertise on a topic of study • Discovering preferences—devouring favorites and gaining deeper understandings of texts they are committed to • The reading stamina that students develop also prepares them for the demands of lengthy passages on standardized tests.
Choice in independent reading makes a difference. • If given a choice, would you prefer to read a text you’ve selected or one that someone selected for you? • Of course, you would prefer to choose your own text. Why?
Choice Engages and Empowers Readers • Readers are motivated to read when, by choice, they read to… • …satisfy their own interests. • …pursue their passions (favorite authors, topics, etc.). • …set their own purposes for reading (I want to read this text because it will help me learn more about ___.). • …meet their own goals. • …read what their friends have recommended. • Learning to exercise choice is a powerful experience in itself.
What message do we send when we make all the choices? In what ways might choice be offered to students beyond that of self-selected text? What difference would it make for readers to have choice in where they read? In how they respond to their reading?
Choice Balanced with Just-Right Text • The importance of matching text with readers cannot be understated. • During independent reading, students must be reading high-success texts—texts that they can read with accuracy (95% or above), fluency, and comprehension. • This ensures that students can monitor their understanding (know when they aren’t getting it) and can effectively apply the strategies and skills they are learning to problem-solve when needed. • Quick, accurate reading also preserves energy for thinking deeply about text.
However, students can still have choice among the texts that are just right for them. How will students know what just-right text is?
Teach Students How to Select Just-Right Texts • Even the youngest readers can learn simple criteria for selecting books: • I like this book. I enjoy reading this book. • I know almost all the words and I can figure out the words I don’t know. • My voice sounds smooth, not bumpy. My voice sounds like the teacher’s voice during read aloud. • I remember what I read. I can talk about it with my friends. • Use this or similar language in a series of think alouds to model selecting just-right books in K/1. • Use shared writing to create a chart that your community of readers can refer to often.
How might the criteria for selecting just-right text look different as readers grow and change? How could maturing readers be encouraged to expand and refine their text selection?
Selecting Just-Right Texts (cont’d.) • Over time, readers can learn additional ways to preview and select just-right text: • Notice what the title and cover reveal • Seek favorite authors, illustrators, characters, topics, genres • Read the front and back flaps • Skim the book to discover what it’s about • Sample part of the text • Consider their level of familiarity with genre, content, writing style • Monitor their understanding and know when they aren’t comprehending
Independent Reading Invites Wide Reading • Wide reading increases readers’ comfort and familiarity with different kinds of texts. • Readers develop loyalty to authors, series, and characters. • Readers sample different writing styles and discover their own mentor texts. • Readers expand their knowledge of world and develop cultural understanding. • Variety promotes flexibility in processing many kinds of texts.
Support Wide Reading with an Effective Classroom Library • Have a range of texts appropriate for all levels of reading ability and interests. • Include a variety of genres, balancing fiction and nonfiction. • Have enough texts so the library is not depleted with regular use. • Organize the library with students so they know how to access texts. • Spark interest in reading with book talks and book shares. For more information on building and maintaining a classroom library, visit the district’s literacy website, “Independent Reading” link, to view a self-guided PowerPoint presentation on “Classroom Libraries.”
Independent Reading is Structured • Well-rehearsed routines and clear expectations pave the way for the important work of independent reading. • Explicitly model and practice routines with students. • Above all, readers should clearly understand the purpose for independent reading.
Establishing Expectations • Students will need to know: • What to read (how to find reading materials and return them) • Where to read Will they sit in their seats or choose personal reading spots? • Appropriate voice levels (silent reading for fluent readers—Gr. 2 and up) • Expectations for movement Will they have all the materials needed or is it okay to go back and forth to the class library, sharpen pencils, etc.? • Expectations for book handling • If and how reading will be recorded in logs • What to do when assistance is needed • How to know when reading time is over
Establishing Expectations in K/1 • Use shared writing to create rules together and post for easy reference. • This is one example for a kindergarten classroom. • Find your bookbox. • Take it to your personal reading spot. • Read quietly. • Keep reading until you hear the music. • Put your bookbox away. • Come to the carpet to share.
Reading Logs • Readers in Grades 2 and above may record what they read. • Reading logs help students track the quantity and variety of their reading. • This information is useful in: • making informed reading choices • recommending books to friends • setting goals and celebrating accomplishments • Reading logs may be part of a larger Reader’s Notebook in the intermediate grades.
Independent Reading at the Beginning of the Year in K/1 • Independent reading can begin on the first day of school. • K/1 readers should have the opportunity to: • Browse alphabet books, counting books, and other concept books • “Read” picture books • Notice and learn from the photos in simple informational texts • Behave like readers • Day 1 is not too soon to begin to see yourself as a reader!
K/1 Independent Reading • Very soon, more reading materials may be added to students’ independent reading boxes: • Songs, chants, poems, and other familiar text from shared reading • Small copies of familiar big books • Guided reading texts that students can read with accuracy, fluency, and comprehension • Some of these texts may still be “read” from memory. Just like in writing, students’ approximations should be accepted until the point at which they are ready to transition away from reading-like behaviors to reading simple texts by attending to print.
Time-on-task is an issue for all readers. How can teachers in Grades 2 and beyond ensure that independent reading time is spent reading? What routines and expectations may be the same? What differences might there be?
More Time for Reading • Instead of activities and centers, students may: • browse and read from the classroom library • read and/or retell previous read aloud texts • explore special bookboxes with books by one author or on one topic • reread familiar poems and shared reading • read from group bookboxes (books from guided reading) • read with partners • read from own bookboxes • This expanded reading opportunity does not replace independent reading time. It supplements in a way that offers choice.
Why can't this type of reading practice be considered independent reading? While this extra practice is valuable, it’s missing an essential element–-teacher monitoring. This key characteristic separates independent reading, as an essential element of a comprehensive literacy framework, from merely reading independently.
Monitoring Progress in Independent Reading through Conferring • Beginning with the youngest readers, conferring adds dimension to independent reading. • The teacher spends time side-by-side with students, listening to them talk about their reading and communicating a genuine interest in them as readers. • Literate conversations push readers to think more deeply about text and about their processes as readers. • Teachers learn about their students’ strengths and areas for growth—vital information for planning future instruction.
Conferring: Text Selection • Through conferring, the teacher carefully monitors and scaffolds text selection: • Is this text a good match with readers? Are students reading with accuracy, fluency, and comprehension? • How deep is the level of comprehension? • Is reading balanced (among genres, topics, authors)? • Are students reading enough? (using time wisely) • What are students’ interests?
Conferring: Differentiation • With skillful conferring, the teacher also differentiates for readers. • Specifically reinforcing what readers do well • Prompting students to apply problem-solving strategies • Teaching through 1:1 demonstrations when needed • Re-teaching skills needed by this reader that other readers have already mastered • Modeling and engaging readers in literate talk • Encouraging students’ reflective thinking about their own processes for solving words and making meaning • Setting and monitoring reading goals
Conferring: Setting Goals • Setting goals and assessing progress toward those goals is another key aspect of conferring. • Goals should be matched to instruction, changing over time as readers grow, and worded so students clearly understand. • When readers know what is expected of them, they are able to partner with the teacher in making progress.
Setting Goals with Primary Students • “What I’m Working On” reflects the current range of teaching and expected learning. • Through discussion, the teacher and student identify strengths and set a goal to work toward. • Then at the close of the conference, the teacher can remind the student of the goal and set an expectation for applying it in reading.
What might a conference look and sound like in the primary grades? It may be helpful to think of conferences on a continuum.
Conferring with K-2 Students • This is one way to structure a conference with emergent and early fluent readers. • It is also appropriate for supporting below grade level readers in 2nd grade. • Taking a running record is embedded in the conference. This step-by-step guide for primary conferring may be located on the district’s literacy website at the “Independent Reading” link.
Conference Record Keeping Conference forms are a matter of personal preference. Design a form to meet your needs. This form has space for a running record and includes questions from Literacy By Design to assess comprehension.
Conferring: How long? How many? • Once a teacher has developed some fluency with conferring, conferences in K/1 should each take about 5-7 minutes. • During a typical 20-minute independent reading time, that might mean that a first grade teacher: • Confers with two focus students • Checks-in with two other students • Over the course of the month, in an average-sized class (25), the teacher would see every student at least once and some students more frequently, depending on need.
Conferring with Intermediate Readers What principles of conferring remain the same? What differences are there? • Conversational tone • Teacher learns about the readers’ strengths and needs • Specific reinforcement of what the reader is doing well • Monitoring text selection • Teaching/differentiation • Reflective thinking • Setting and revisiting goals • Decoding strategies are usually in place, so conferences with intermediate readers focus on depth of comprehension. • Texts are longer—meaning teachers may not have specific knowledge of their content. Generic questions can support teachers in monitoring comprehension. • Conferences may include review of reading logs and sharing of a Reader’s Notebook.
Probing Depth of Comprehension • The teacher asks questions that will help to determine the student’s level of understanding. • Generic questions can support this conversation even when the teacher has not read this specific text. (Fiction) • Have you discovered a problem? Tell me about it. • What have you noticed about the main character? (traits, change over time, etc.) • What’s happening right now? (Nonfiction) • What have you learned or want to remember? • What have you noticed about how this text is organized? How is that helping you read and understand?
Monitoring Comprehension • Many factors may affect depth of comprehension. • In conferences with intermediate readers, the teacher is also monitoring: • Use of strategies to comprehend (e.g., inferring, connecting) • Just-right text (Does the reader have the necessary background knowledge?) • Fluency and pacing • Self-monitoring and use of strategies to fix-up meaning • Ability to learn and use new vocabulary • Wide reading • Skillfully, the teacher uses this information to • guide the student in appropriate ways • inform future instruction
Returning to the tennis metaphor--what does an instructor do to ensure that you experience success in learning tennis? The instructor watches you try your hand at serving (practice). S/he assesses your skill level, and then moves to your side to guide you, helping you with your delivery right at the point of need.
Conferring is the teacher’s opportunity to assess need during practice and then mentor and teach right at the moment that students need it most. Every child should feel successful when the conference is over and the teacher moves on.
Independent Reading is Surrounded by Literate Thinking and Talk • The literate talk that begins in read alouds is the basis for the thinking and responding that readers will eventually do independently. • Teacher modeling and discussions in read aloud teach readers how to think and talk about text. The richer the talk, the deeper and more insightful the responses. • Beginning in kindergarten, readers can use these models to think about and respond to their independent reading. Literate talk is facilitated by choice of read alouds. “They should be meaningful and memorable texts that excite and inform students and help them understand themselves and the world.” –Reading for Life: The Learner as a Reader
Reading Response in K/1 • Readers first need to experience success in responding during whole group. • Teachers can encourage students to participate in: • predicting and inferring • making meaningful personal connections • comparing/contrasting texts and authors • discussing characters—their traits, their choices, lessons learned • sharing new learning • supporting thinking with details from illustrations and from the text • developing favorite authors • establishing purposes for reading • expressing opinions and evaluating texts • reflecting on reading processes
Sharing after Independent Reading • Extend the opportunity to apply these models for thinking and talking about text to independent reading. • Model and encourage literate talk during individual conferences. • Bring students together at the end of independent reading for sharing. Make this a special time to share: • Something learned from reading • Something noticed about text • Something a student has learned about him/herself as a reader