Update on how the "We are Readers: Join the Movement" movement is going (see post with purple banner picture).
Teaching is all about making decisions and making use of the limited time that we have for instruction. For example, we have 45 minutes per day for reading instruction and 45 minutes per day for writing instruction. How do we use that time wisely?
How do we create a balanced literacy program? Is it possible to incorporate all of the skills, lessons, and elements of a "balanced" literacy diet in one day? The short answer is- no. It's impossible to incorporate every aspect of literacy instruction in a given day. Maybe it can be done over the long-term. But in the short-term I have 5 days and 45 minutes per day of reading instruction. So I am always coming back to basic questions:
What is best practice for reading instruction?
We value time spent reading above anything else. Research supports this. My CI and I are converts to the pleasure-reading, read-for-the-sake-of-enjoying-reading, read-good-fit-books, read-because-you-love-it, choose-books-you-love-to-read, spend-time-reading-independently reading program.
How do you organize instruction to give students time to read independently?
1) We set aside time every day for students to read for enjoyment.
2) We encourage students to "steal minutes" of reading time throughout the day.
Kids love "stealing minutes" of reading. My students come up to me throughout the day and ask, "Ms. Cantrell, can I steal some minutes now?" And my answer is consistently "yes" (unless they are supposed to be engaged in a different instructional activity). This shows me that students are looking forward to curling up with a good book.
What else do we do?
The students have a chart glued into their "Book of Books" composition notebook that is titled: "What do good readers do?" Each time a lesson I have the students copy down the example of what good readers do in their chart. Simple. Organized. Easy to review.
Shared reading: SongFest!!
One of my first reading mini-lessons was "Good readers reread (when they don't understand something or when they zone out while reading)." The way that I reinforced the importance of rereading is by having them listen to a song they enjoy and try to sing along. Most students did not know the lyrics the first time we heard the song. I posted the lyrics on the ActiveBoard and had them read them once. Then we reread the lyrics while we listened to the song. And most kids could sing along.
So now we use read, reread, and reread and sing technique with LOTS of songs. I have a special folder where I keep multiple copies of the lyrics to the songs we are learning so students can choose to read song lyrics during "Be a Reader" time. This practice of rereading also supports fluency. On Fridays we have a Songfest where students practice rereading and singing the songs we have practiced.