So I’m a Title 1 Reading Teacher. Which means I work with students who are struggling and reluctant readers. The students that Donalyn Miller refers to as “developing readers” in “The BookWhisperer”. A book that I’m on my 2nd read through, because the first time through I was in such awe thinking “this is how it should be”. This time I’m slowing down, underlining what I like, adding *’s and of course stickies are beginning to stick out.
Mainly I teach in guided reading groups and focus on instructional strategies. We haven’t focused much on the fun of reading. In the regular classroom the students get to choose books and take a test on their choice book and earn prizes. Funny thing is, I don’t hear children talking about books. I don’t see children clutching books. I don’t feel the excitement in the air about new books.
Hmmm….. what to do about this? I started looking at who was taking tests.
Hmmm…. very few students were taking tests. So I figure they’re reading, just not testing.
Don’t hate me for my next desperate move. I offered candy, name on my bulletin board and name announced on the intercom for any earning a 100% on a test.
A few students from each class took some tests.
Hmmm…a few from each class.
So, I looked closer. Many students hadn’t tested in a year or more. Why not now? It’s chocolate candy.
They were beyond reluctant readers. They were non-readers. Did not see any joy in reading. Some were embarassed by their “good fit” books, that they consistently chose books that were beyond for them.
Hmmm…. now what do I do? I visit my fellow title teacher.
“I need book bags that are not clear so that the other kids don’t see what my students are reading.”
Without blinking an eye she jumps up and says, “How many do you want?”
This was about 4 weeks ago. Today after letting these readers (and they are readers) pick their books for fun, I told them I would be in a meeting tomorrow, so get a couple extras.
One boy said, “We won’t get to come here tomorrow?”
“No,” I shook my head.
With a very disappointed face he complained, “Awww, mannn.”
As I watched he chose another book to add to his bag and looked at me.
“Go ahead, you can take another.”
He lit up and made another choice.
What a turn around for this child that hadn’t finished a book of his own choosing in over a year.
What a rush of joy.