How to get the MOST from a SWEET Experience



When my students were elevated after the lunch period, I implemented a Silent Reading Period of 20 minutes. My goal was to allow them to “cool” down from the excitement of recess festivities before we engaged in an academic subject. As a student, this was my favorite time of the day as I was an avid reader. Finally, a book of my choosing that I could read without interruption. As a teacher, this became my favorite time of day because I thought of it as extra prep time and a minute to find my thoughts.

I was wrong.

My students, not all, but most were not going to read for 20 minutes without conflict. So, they hid drawing papers and crafts behind a big encyclopedia. I do not know about you, but the encyclopedia with the “X” section could not be all that fascinating. I watched a student for the whole duration of the 20 minutes remain on the same page. Child XYZ could not stay engaged with one book for more than 2 minutes and popped up more times than an annoying ad on a website. Oh, the whispering: Students don’t understand how when one person whispers it begins this daily domino effect of elevated voices until I feel we are in the lunchroom. Guess who was the constant redirector of all these behaviors? Yours Truly

So, I dug deep into my training with Special Education and looked up my notes from my teaching program and they shared the same viewpoint: Observation

I thought who has time to teach and observe? However, there was time for observation if I planned it right. The process of education is refining the process until it meets and exceeds the needs of your student. Here’s how I turned Silent Reading from another “Be Quiet” activity to “I can’t wait until we Silent Read again, you are such as masterful teacher”(this last part is more of my fantasy but hey doesn’t reading take you to exciting places?)

Avoidance Amy: Observe your students reading habits

As a multiple subjects’ teacher, an average of 70% of the day is spent reading. Observe the reading in other subjects. Are they hiding their crafts during Science? Do they refuse eye contact with you during popcorn reading? Do they seem to participate more when you do choral readings or class read aloud? This shows there may be an issue with literacy and that reading is more of a challenge for this student. This would be an opportunity to support the student through reading interventions

These interventions may be needed to support the student that is popping up more than 5 times may need some help to select a book that is appropriate for them. I have students use the five finger rule. If there are five words they do not know or they skip then the book would not be a right fit (Ahem to the student using the “X” section of the encyclopedia for 20 solid minutes.)

Crafty Chris: The one who hides art projects behind books.

Chris is the greatest opportunity to make an impact on the love for reading. Chris is showing that he needs an additional stimulation during silent reading. Use Chris as a leader to “help” you come up with class projects for your books

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. This can range from a comic strip summary or a movie poster for the book they are reading. Should you need  an easy start, check out my Editable Reading Comprehension Tools here or click on the picture for some visual opportunities.

Whispering Windy: The one who loves to share

Wendy makes me chuckle inside as this student feels they are getting away with something through the loud whispering. Wendy is also another opportunity to support reading. Wendy is showing she needs an opportunity to share what she is reading As they students are silent reading, I hold five minute conferences to determine what they are reading and how much they are engaged with the book I also have a clipboard with a checklist of who is reading what book and some notes for my personal information. I use these notes daily to support students and check in what they are reading during silent reading time. Click the picture or here to get this freebie.slide1

Once a month I host a Books and Bagels event. The last 30 minutes of the day students can take off their shoes, sit with a friend and share what they are reading. This is their opportunity to “talk on task” about the different features of a book from character traits to text features. slide1They must “teach” a friend about their book and then their friend shares what they learned. This is my sneaky assessment to determine how they are using the reading comprehension language and applying to their own life. Also, it helps when food is involved. I feel we can solve most problems local and worldwide with a great treat.

Happy Reading



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