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5 Non-negotiables for Reading Teachers

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on May 13, 2014 2:49:10 PM

Reading TeachersFew of us doubt the importance of teaching reading. Parents want their children to read and teachers have resorted to practically begging their students to read. But how do we make it happen?

According to Donalyn Miller, author of Reading in the Wild, teachers must build and depend on a “framework that exists every day throughout the school year.” This framework, or what Miller refers to as “non-negotiables,” should be the foundation against which teachers check their lesson planning, assessment, resources, classroom management, and virtually every aspect of their instructional design.

We’ve pulled five of Miller’s classroom “negotiables,” and listed them below.

5 Non-negotiables for Reading Teachers

Time to read; time to write
Miller’s students spend a significant amount of time reading in class—approximately one-third of every class period, in fact. During this daily independent reading time, she confers with several students about their reading and meets with small groups of students who need additional instruction and support. In addition to this, she encourages students to read at home and removes or reduces homework and busy-work activities in order to provide time for additional reading.

Students need to feel that they are a part of a community of readers and writers
To help students develop confidence and self-efficacy as readers, Miller places emphasis on ensuring students nurture relationships with other readers in reading communities. These communities include both their peers and teacher. Whether students read below grade level, meet grade-level goals, or surpass grade-level expectations, all of them fully participate in activities and conversations that value individual strengths and viewpoints.

Miller argues that students need to make their own choices about reading material and writing topics. So in her classroom, students self-select all books for independent reading. She encourages them to read widely, and helps them select books from a variety of genres and formats including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and graphic novels. She also supports and challenges students through reading advisory—that is, guiding them toward books that match their interests and reading abilities.

Students need the opportunity to respond to books in natural ways
Miller stresses the importance of providing students with daily opportunities to respond to what they read. Students share book recommendations, write response entries, and post book reviews based on their independent reading. In addition to this, they talk about books daily with their peers and us through conferences and classroom discussions.

The workshops are built on structure and predictable ritual
In Miller’s classroom, reading workshops follow a consistent routine of lessons—and time for sharing and reflection. Regular conferences, reading response, and reader’s notebook records hold students accountable for their reading and provide information about their progress toward personal and academic reading goals.

If you’re interested in learning more about Donalyn Miller’s approach to reading instruction, check out one of our recent blogs, “5 Simple Ways to Increase Independent Reading Time.”

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Tags: reading assessment, effective reading comprehension strategies, reading ability, reading teachers, read alouds

Five Effective Reading Strategies You Can Use Now.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Sep 11, 2012 4:31:00 PM

Take Five reading strategies to boost comprehension in your classroom!The following five effective reading instruction strategies not only work with any curriculum, but in an era of budget cuts, it’s good to know that these strategies can easily be deployed with no additional funding.

Five Effective Reading Instruction Strategies

1. Empower your students by giving them choices. Research suggests that children who get to choose at least one item to read per day show not only increased engagement, but also an increase in reading comprehension skills. Allowing students reading choices has a big payoff!

2. No text should be taught in isolation.
“Across the Curriculum” has become the mantra of contemporary education—and for good reason. If knowledge and skills overlap and spill over from one class into the next, they explode with energy and real life application! Students can see those connections and articulate them through in-class discussion and authentic group activities

3. Writing that Transcends the Classroom.
Say you were learning to play Beethoven’s 14th Sonata on the piano. Before fumbling through the piece on your own, one of the first things you would probably do is listen to the way that an expert has performed it to get a sense for the nuances of its rhythm, mood and feel.

The same goes for writing. Writers, just like musicians need a model. Worksheets and fill-in-the-blank exercises are just that—exercises. They may show students where to place the commas, but they won’t show them how to use language in a rhetorical way. Empower your students by giving them opportunities to read, hear, and discuss good writing, then apply these strategies to their own writing choices. It will be rewarding for both you and the students to see them take ownership of their own work and see writing as exploration!

4. Read Out Loud and Read Aloud.
As we mentioned above, one of the most effective reading comprehension strategies is modeling. It’s a benefit to the whole class to hear other students read. Research has shown that when students read out loud, it helps the brain orient to rhythms, cadence, tone, expression and context. Reading to your students helps in much the same way. Children and adults of all ages benefit from read alouds.

5. Reading Clubs
.The more children engage with each other about what they are reading, the more excited they get about the process. Set up book groups and literature circles each week, allowing students to chat freely about their ideas, suggestions, and opinions. It boosts reading comprehension skills and provides a positive social cognitive environment to enhance understanding and explore concepts!

Looking for a few new ways to improve reading comprehension in your classroom? Download your own free copy of the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching’s Guide to Best Practices in K-6 Reading Comprehension today!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B


Tags: effective reading comprehension strategies, reading comprehension, curriculum

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