Friday, January 25, 2013

Will You Please Just Read A Book? Encouraging Reluctant Readers

One of the challenges I have been facing this year is getting all of my students to read for fun.  Or, frankly, to read at all.  The school I work for spent tens of thousands of dollars creating classroom libraries for every classroom and initiated the Accelerated Reader program.  Yet, some of my students STILL haven't earned a single point and we're half way through the year.  I suggest books, I give them silent reading time.  I do everything I can, but it's still not working.  So a few weeks ago I started listening centers in my classroom.  It's definitely a work in progress but a lot of my students really enjoy listening to books on tape.

The school provided me with four books on tape and I purchased four more on my own from Half Price Books! (They were super cheap- got all four, two magnetic poetry kits, a small novelty book, and a headphone splitter for under $50!)  In my classroom I was also provided with one standard listening center that can have up to six students listening at one time.  I then purchased a cheap personal CD player and two more headphone sets and set up a smaller station across the room.  In a perfect world I can have up to 8 people listening at one time!  But typically I have about 4-5 at a time.  It helps with the volume level while I'm workshopping with my other students, and gives my struggling readers access to texts they wouldn't be able to read on their own.

I have specific expectations for the students at the center.  They are to be silent, they must read along, and they must clean up.  I also put together really basic packet that can be filled out for any book that they are to work on each time they go to the listening center.  I also ask that they listen to only one chapter at a time so that they can all have turns.

I think next time I might just pick three books at a time- managing seven is a little crazy.  I'm also working on fine tuning a tracking sheet to keep tabs on who has read how far in what book. Generally though, I'm happy with how things are running.  I'm hoping that each student will finish at least one book that they can then take a test on and earn AR points.  In addition hopefully they are exposed to something new and different and learn to enjoy reading a little bit more.

How do you inspire your students to read?