Let them CHOOSE: Fostering Lifelong Readers

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August 1, 2016 by HCDE-Texas

shutterstock_447914401_SmallAs teachers return from a summer spent reading for pleasure, there are some salient points to keep in mind about students reading their choice of reading materials.

Language arts teachers do not have content to teach; they have recursive skills with increasing text complexities to tackle each year. Some students come to the next grade reading on grade level, or above/below grade level. While similar learning gaps exist in math, science and social studies, ELA teachers need to be more purposeful in addressing the skills to help build a stronger foundation for reading in any genre.  When teachers create a strong foundation with these text-types, other genres and even writing will be more successful.

Building better readers is a daunting process at any grade level.  Whether it is teaching students how to read or how to read better, elementary and secondary teachers alike must push for more independent practice with these texts. Much of a class period day is spent examining a text, teaching one particular text, and even asking students to identify the conflict, to describe the setting, or point out the setting.  But at what point in instruction do teachers hand over the reins and see what students can do with a piece of text?

Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer author, reminds us on each page to LET STUDENTS CHOOSE books that interest them. Then and only then will we see real reading growth.  Penny Kittle, Book Love author, advocates the same. Letting a child choose his or her reading path is the way to student reading success. Many of us read all summer for fun…why shouldn’t students be doing the same in your class?

About the Blogger: 

Kelly Tumy is curriculum director for English language arts and social studies in the Teaching and Learning Center at HCDE. During her 25-year career in education/administration, she has loyally served Harris County as an educator in Galena Park, Humble and most recently Crosby ISD. Tumy’s workshops focus on inquiry-based instruction in the ELA classroom. Her passion for cross-curricular connections helps students and teachers see the elasticity in education.

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