As a teacher-mom, one of the ways I LOVE to unwind from a non-stop, whirlwind of a day, is with a book. The process of reading helps me to
forget postpone any frustrations or stresses that may be lingering from the day and allows for me to relax and find sleep. I am certain that many of my teacher friends can relate. However, I have to be honest and share that reading hasn’t always calmed and relaxed me.
I HATED reading as a kid. I would sit at my desk during silent reading time, stare at a book as long as my teacher made me, and I would daydream. Yup! I said it, I am a reading teacher that DESPISED reading as a kid and I was a FAKE reader. Do you have those in your classroom, too?
I always share my own experiences with my students and they LOVE it. The fact that I TEACH reading and HATED reading, truly blows their minds. What I also share is that I came to LOVE reading because I found books that “fit” me.
I stress to my students that we will work together to find those best-fitting books to change their mindset, as well. Since I am a reformed fake reader with many years of experience, I want to share how I help my fake reading students…
Here are my 5-tried and true Tips to help FAKE READERS…
TIP #1: Own your personal experiences and share them. Your students will connect better with you when they learn that you were not always the best student or reader in class. It gives you “street cred” and kids LOVE to know that you are not perfect!
TIP #2: Turn reading into a competition with daily fluency practice. Students hate not being able to read as well as they are supposed to and they will act out in order to avoid it. Try 6-Minute Solutions to enhance fluency.
I pair up students based on their fluency rates, each student is given a reading passage at their current reading level that is marked with the number of words. Before the first person reads, the students exchange texts, the student on the left (the stronger reader) always reads first for one minute, which I time, data is recorded (number of words read in the minute minus any miscues), and then repeat with the reader on the right.
The passage is read Monday-Friday with a fluency partner, and then on Friday, I progress monitor each student for the 6th read. I keep this data in order to keep students, parents, and administrators aware of student progress. If you are looking for a tool to enhance speed of reading, this is a great one.
I found some great FREE 6th grade fluency tools on the Reading Sage blog. Click on this link to check out tips from this dyslexic reading teacher.
TIP #3: Kids can’t read what they can’t read. Make sure you have high-interest reading selections that students are excited about and CAN read. Stock your classroom with menus, catalogs, magazines, picture books, etc. Organize them in a way that students can access them and have time for self-selected reading.
TIP #4: Find out what your students LOVE and find it in a reading format. A student once disclosed that her family acquired an Australian Sugar Glider. I am quite certain they are illegal and considered an exotic animal in the United States… However, walking through Half Price Books, I found a nonfiction book about Sugar Gliders that I knew this student would love and would connect with. So I grabbed it, wrote her a little card, and sat it on her desk as a special gift. That book was read cover to cover. When I see students years later they share that they still have “that book” I gave just to them. I know that many of my boys LOVE sports. I grab everything sports I can find: sports cards, magazines, books with stats, etc. to keep them excited and reading.
TIP #5: Even at the 6th grade level, I start from the first day of school building reading stamina with my students. We begin with ONE minute that first day and work our way up to 30-minute self-selected reading time slots. It takes time for students to build reading stamina. Just because students are older, doesn’t mean that reading for 20+ minutes happens at all during the summer months. Student brains need to be trained and re-trained in order to make the best use of their time authentically reading books. Grab a timer, have students grab their self-selected reading materials, and chart your group’s progress. Self-selected reading is what YOU make of it!
Best of luck transforming your FAKE readers. It will take some time and effort on your part, but once they find that LOVE for books, it will never go away!