Monday, April 4, 2011

where in the world...

...have the last seven months gone? The whole idea of this blog was to keep track of, and share my learning throughout my Reading Specialization masters program. And, here I am, seven months later with no updates. Yikes! I guess the trouble with my blogging plan was over estimating the amount of time a reading intervention teacher / mom of three / grad student would have to spend reflecting on best practices. But, I am now just four short weeks away from graduation, and maybe then I can be a more consistent blogger!

Speaking of graduation, I am in the final stages of my action research project. I have three fifth grade struggling readers cross-age tutoring three third grade struggling readers. The purpose of the study is to see if there will be increases in the levels of motivation (both in engagement with reading, and improvement in the students' self-perceptions as a reader). So far, so good! It is thrilling to see my students excited about reading with their buddy.

The whole process has had me thinking about some of the main factors that influence motivation. For my study I have done A LOT of research. But, for those of you who have, or work with, students who are reluctant readers, most of the research suggests some simple truths about helping your struggling reader. Richard Allington and Linda Gambrell are two of the many individuals who give us the following advice on reading motivation.

1. children need books or materials they want to read. they need choice!
2. children need books or materials they can read. make sure reading material is on their level.
3. children need opportunities to share what they read with their friends, peers, and family.

I think these three points are simple, and seem like common sense. But, so often, time and resources prevent children from having access to all three. It can be harder than you think to find a variety of material at your child's or student's level from which to choose, and also making sure they have a chance to talk about what they read with others. Literature circles are an excellent option for classroom teachers. There will be more on this topic to come. But the most important thing you can do for unmotivated readers is to expose them to many genres and formats of reading. Help them find what they like, and teach them to find books they can read. There are a few strategies such as I-PICK for finding "just right" books that I plan to discuss in the near future, but the idea is that for a book to be on your independent level, you need to be able to read 99% of the words on the first page. For kids, this generally means no more than 1-3 mistakes.

With books of interest, that they can read, and a chance to share what they are doing, you'll see an improvement an attitude toward reading!

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