As a class this year I have taken us on a journey to become better readers. At the start of the year I wanted to focus on all sorts of different strategies and skills. I wanted to fill their toolbox so that they could really enjoy their books and achieve deep levels of thinking and have “Grand Conversations”. We have read a lot and learned a lot this year. Most have enjoyed it but a few have struggled with keeping their reading endurance up. A few have said “Why do I have to write about my reading” or “If I can read with you and talk about it why do I have to answer all these questions and write a summary and find the main point and….” All these comprehension strategies begin to make the kids see reading as a task. Do they need to be able to read and understand what they have read? Of course but once they do what does adding more tools and making them practice these tools do? Simply put, it takes something that kids enjoy and make it more a task, they are not reading as much for joy and listening to how a text makes them feel. Readers begin to read for answers to the impending questions not to explore how Brian and his isolation in Hatchet reminds them how overcoming challenges is possible. They read to only look for main points to discover a theme and not for the thrill of discovering new characters that they can relate to. I asked my students a question today, “What was it like when you were read to as a kid” I think they thought it was an odd question but it got them thinking, one even said, “It was better because our parents didn’t stop every so often to check if we got it and we liked the stories more.” So I said to them fully aware it could backfire, “Why do we read now“ I was prepared for all the typical I am 12 and don’t like school answers like, “You force us to” or “So we can get good marks” but it was interesting to here the answers of the few willing discuss their thoughts.
Why do we read?
It helps us learn vocabulary, like new words for our writing.
Nice to do when we want to relax.
Sometimes we start a book and don’t like it but it helps us find the ones we do.
Increases our imagination.
I like reading but some times I can’t find the right book , it is all about finding the right book.
They (a good book) hooks you in.
Books teach us things.
I like to read but I don’t like doing activities.
Reading keeps my mind off other things going on.
No one said because we have to, or for a grade, or for points on A.R (Thank heaven because I would have died) but the message I did receive was clear. What they do not like about reading is that it is becoming less and less about how the books make them feel and think about and more and more about assessment. The interruption of the reading flow caused by “tasks” was mentioned a few times. The conversations are going to become a larger focus in our class, sharing about books and talking about our experience with them. There is a place for writing and reflecting but like all things we need balance.
The journey to being responsible, reflective readers continues 🙂