This week I went to a PD presented by Anne Hammond. It was a session designed specifically for Grade 2 and 3 titled “Effective reading teaching and learning in the grade two/three classroom”.
One topic that Anne focussed heavily on was independent reading in the classroom. While the concept of independent reading is not new, it is easy to forget the simple things we can do as teachers to help students develop a love of reading. Features of independent reading include:
– The importance of text selection and allowing the students to choose their own texts. Students need to learn to find “just right books” for them, books that are not too easy or too difficult and books they have an interest in. Generally students should choose books they can read with 95% accuracy and understanding.
– A variety of books should be read (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, magazines etc) and students can have a collection of 5 or 6 books to read during independent reading time.
– Anne suggested that independent reading could occur during the Reading hour between shared reading and the learning centre activities. Alternatively, it can be done at any other time of the day.
– Classrooms can be set up so that a library or book corner houses many different types of books. Collections of books can be categorised and stored in different tubs so that students have access to a wide variety of texts.
– Reading for fun. We spend so much time getting our students to complete activities about books, answer questions, do book responses etc. The focus of independent reading is to “get rid of the stuff” and simply allow the students to read for the joy of it.
This week during our library time, students borrowed two books. One could be taken home and the other book was to be kept at school in the students’ locker tubs. On Friday we had independent reading for the first time (for half an hour before lunch) and I provided students with a reading record to keep track of their reading.
The room was absolutely silent and every student was absorbed in their book, which was great to see. At the conclusion of the independent reading session students discussed their book with a partner for a few minutes. I look forward to implementing independent reading in my classroom a few times a week….the simple things in life are often the best!