I chose the following survey http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/collateral_resources/pdf/r/readingsurvey.pdf to complete with my 2nd and 3rd graders. I felt it was too difficult for my kinders and 1st graders to complete. Keep in mind that I teach special education grade kindergarten through 3rd grade and these students are the ones I serve for reading and/or writing. I read the questions aloud and for some students I was their scribe because they can articulate a response much better than they are able to write. Often if I take writing out of the picture I will get a much better response than “It is fun”, because those are the words they know and are able to spell without getting bogged down with the mechanics of writing. Sometimes I have to pick my battles about what is more important and what I am truly trying to accomplish with my students.
With all that being said, the result of this survey made me sad. Since I have started the masters program in reading, I have really begun to contemplate how I teach and how to best meet my student’s needs. I am becoming to realize and understand that sometimes the biggest obstacle in getting my students to read and in teaching them to read is the adversary of time. I honestly believe that every one of my students could become at least efficient, if not spectacular readers if given the gift of time, coupled with effective instruction on their level.
My student’s response to the first thing that pops into their heads when they think of reading a book varied from I get excited to I dread it and want to get it over with. Most of them did reply that they read at home and times ranged from once a week to all the time. I was pleasantly surprise when most of my 3rd graders said that their favorite place to read at school was my room, (with no coercion from me, I promise) I think it probably stems from the fact that they are reading on their level and with smaller groups, they are able to open up a little more. Only one student talked about going to the library outside of school. Others stated they had no favorite author no favorite book, etc. This disturbs me and makes me think what do I have the power and control over to show them reading is a wonderful thing. (Another down fall to the world of EC is I get them in chunks and pieces of the day and sometimes a 30-45 minute window is all I have to show them the value of books and reading while struggling with the balance of meeting an IEP). But I am going to reflect and focus on what I am able to do with the time I have available.
My student’s interest varied as much as their responses. Several of them chose Dr. Seuss as their favorite author. Other interests were Magic Tree House series, fairy tales, fantasy, and nonfiction subjects such as tornados and automobiles. One student has recently discovered The Littles series by John Peterson. While I do have a variety of books, I do not necessarily have more than one title of some varieties. I have several of the Magic Tree House, Katie Kazoo, Junie B. Jones, and Bailey Street Kids series. I have many non-fiction books, because that tends to be my favorite as well. I have all levels of books from 0.1 up to middle school level, but there again, not in abundance. I love to hit Kohl’s and buy their latest featured artist books. I have ordered many books through Scholastic, but I cannot get the classroom freebie extras through book orders like a classroom teacher can because I do not have a class order. I have also discovered that Ollie’s is a wonderful store to purchase good books really cheap (between .99 to $3.99 for hardbacks).
Another area I feel that my library is lacking in is high interest, lower leveled books. I think that is another obstacle that turns my students off is the “baby” books at their reading level. Often my students are ready for meatier information books, but I have a hard time finding them. I like the suggestion of having students let a Kindle or other device read aloud a grade level book as they followed along.
I do offer to let my students come in and select books from my classroom library to take home for them to read, especially since they are usually reading below grade level and exhaust the regular classroom’s supply quickly. For my 1st graders, I let them take home a leveled reading book each night from my classroom. As soon as they enter my room they go and exchange their book, so they at least get to choose the book on their level. I feel that my library needs multiple copies of leveled readers for my beginning readers so I can read with them as a group at times so they will not have to share books.
I also have some students that I go the library with on occasion to help them find books that they are interested in and are appropriate for them to read independently. I have a student that I work with one on one and let her choose the books she wants to read from the school library, because we have read the ones in my room. As I read Creating Lifelong Readers through Independent Reading in Chapter 3, I am reminded that I can use these guided trips to the library to help my student obtain skills that allow them to skim the text while focusing on their own personal interest to make sure that they will enjoy reading a particular book. This student also struggles tremendously with reading, so I try to find any avenue I can to make reading a more enjoyable task for her.