As I reflect on my reading lesson for the day I began to remember my first year teaching reading to 30 struggling readers. Their reading levels ranged from first to fourth grade and part of our curriculum at the time was to give students 45 minutes of silent reading. One day I was approached by my administrator and asked why my students were not progressing according to the Star reading assessment. My response was, “How can you teach someone to read if they are required to read silently for 45 minutes.” I ended my first year of teaching reading, like my students, frustrated and hating the subject I enjoyed as a child.
Through the years I have tried different strategies, but there is one that I have been using with success for several years. As a child, I learned the art of reading by reading comic books. I brought that concept into my classroom and enticed my students to read aloud by providing comics that had a continuing story line. While waiting for the new issues to arrive, students and I would engage in conversations to try to predict what would happen in the upcoming issues. When the new issues did arrive, students would eagerly read to find out who had predicted the story line correctly. Comics also taught my students how to debate because my classes usually are split down the middle as to which superheroes are the strongest DC or Marvel characters.
Another strategy that I use in the classroom, is integrating music with reading. When teaching reading fluency to my students, I explain that fluency is like singing and you have to find your rhythm. Students practicing their reading progress monitoring passages in my class can be seen rocking their heads back and forth as they mentally put music to their reading passages. Last year all of my students met the district reading goals using this method. Currently, we are reading Bud, Not Buddy a story about a young boy looking for his dad who is a Jazz band leader in the 1930s. Before beginning each chapter my students listen to music by the Jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Scott Joplin. My students are so excited with the lessons that they are researching the Jazz Era on their own and they have learned to “Scat” like Cab Calloway.
As I finish reflecting upon my day’s reading lessons, my conclusion is as Cab Calloway would put it, “Hidee hidee hidee hidee hidee hidee hi, Hodee hodee hodee hodee hodee oh,” Silent Reading; Absolutely No!
Update: Quiet Crisis Health Plan
In my blog of October 2, 2012, I wrote about my program Exitos Escolar, which is designed to help students be successful in middle school and beyond with the focus of helping them achieve higher education after high school. By applying for funding, my program along with sponsors have provided net books for 30 students.
On January 31, 2013, Catalina Community Services of Catalina, Arizona, which is “A Center Dedicated to Providing Assistance to Residents of the Greater Catalina Area” donated six net books to Exitos Escolar to help Mammoth-San Manuel students achieve higher education. Mr. Arthur Posner CCS board member delivered the net books on behalf of Catalina Community Services Board of Directors. Thank you CCS members for raising the number of students who have been provided netbooks from 30 to 36.