Monday, August 3, 2015

Discussion: How can teachers bring reluctant readers into the reading community?


Clearly, I have my own reasons for bringing this up.  After working a lot the past few days on my plans for the upcoming school year (3 more weeks GACK), I realized that my blog, as it stands, is not going to be much use for my students, especially those who are reluctant and/or struggling readers (which is to say, 90% of them).  Yet I still want to have a blog they can read, comment on, and even guest post on.  Thus is born Mrs. Gassaway Reads Too Much.   I cross-posted (with some revisions for clarity and, um, not-swearing) some reviews, but will wait until school starts to really start publishing there.

I've also developed this wacked-out assignment to encourage kids to explore the community that reading can build.  From their classrooms, to the school, to their town, to the internet, there are people who can help them connect to books in all sorts of ways.  Basically, I'm saying they need to get X amount of points per grading period, and they can get points by doing various choices from dozens of different types of activities. (Maybe not "dozens."  I'm not a math teacher.)   Commenting on a reading blog gets you one point, doing a book talk for the class gets you five, going to an author events gets you ten, guest posting on my blog gets you fifteen, starting and maintaining your own book blog gets you infinity points, etc.

Part of me is all "Whoo-hoo; this is going to be so much fun!  I've come up with so many choices that everyone will find things they like to do!" and part of me is all "This only sounds fun to you because you already like to read, and anyway, isn't setting up extrinsic rewards just going to create the impression that all of this is WORK nobody would do if they weren't forced to?"

What do you think?  I realize that anyone reading this is also already on board with the whole "reading is great" thing, but I'd really appreciate some thoughts about what teachers can do not just to get kids reading, but to get kids connected with other readers.

This isn't related.  I just love it.  I saw it here.



7 comments:

  1. That's a really interesting/cool idea. I feel like it definitely could force kids to at least entertain the idea of reading books, which might lead reluctant readers to find one they actually like. However, I can also see commenting on a blog post becoming just another "busy work" task (in their minds). I'm thinking of my younger sister here, a 21-year-old who is proud to claim she hasn't read a book for fun (outside of school) since the third grade. (I swear we're not related).

    I feel like the most helpful options would be the ones where students are actively giving book talks or listening to their peers give book talks/reading their guest posts. If I were a reluctant reader, I imagine I'd be more likely to entertain book recs from my friends than my teacher. One middle school English teacher I know did a cool project with her 8th graders, where they each had to read a book and then create a "book file" on said book, which could then be used by future classes to help them find books they might like to read. The file was a manilla folder that they decorated with images related to the book, with a summary, their review, etc. I don't know how well that actually helped future students, but it was a really neat idea.

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    1. Yeah, what I'm really hoping to achieve is for them to build up that kind of kid-to-kid book talk. So much more effective than me going on and on about what books I am into.

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  2. I think that your idea is great! Then again, I am what some may call a "book nerd" so it would be fun for me (maybe not the book talk since I am still working on my public speaking skills, but listening to friends talk about books they enjoyed, kind of like Kelsey said in her reply above, would definitely make me want to read more and find out why they loved the books they read for myself.) Anyway, I think your idea is definitely worth a try! Even if it makes only a few people in your class start to love reading, I'd say it's a success :)

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    1. That's a good point, that it's worth trying even if it doesn't reach every single kid.

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  3. I think this is a great idea - and it certainly can't hurt to try! I homeschool my kids and I have a second (very inactive) blog called Best Kids' Reads where I sometimes have my kids post book reviews. I really wish that I could say they love it, but right now we're still at the "I'm being forced" stage - they love to read, but they're not so keen on writing about the books they love (especially my son). I've thought about getting some of the other kids at our homeschool co-op to submit reviews too - just for the fun of it. They could have the experience of blogging and book reviewing without having to actually create and maintain a blog. I might offer that as extra credit for the writing class I'll be teaching!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  4. This is a tough one for me. I have two boys who refuse to read at all unless it required for school. My daughter will read from time to time, but doesn't like to be rushed or forced into it. So, although I'm not the best person to give advice on this topic, I like the idea of a blog for students to post their reviews. I also like the idea of reading groups that get to pick their own book for discussion (from an approved list, of course). I think if it is made social in some way, which is really important to kids, it will be fun and not such a chore to read.

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    1. Yes, the social aspect is super important, especially in middle school!

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Please share your thoughts. Comments are almost as sweet as chocolate!