Friday, November 2, 2012

A Few Simple Ways to Ensure Better Readers

Here are a handful of things principals and teachers can begin doing today in order to better improve how well students read at their respective sites tomorrow.

  1. Dedicate daily time for all students to actually read sustained text they select and ensure that actual reading is being done. Filling in worksheets and blanks do not count as sustained reading.
  2. Ensure all students have daily access to lots of self-selected reading materials AND that these texts are ones that students can read accurately and understand. For younger children, individual book boxes work well. These boxes contain 8 to 10 texts that the teacher knows the child can read accurately. For older children, group boxes and some individual boxes work well. It is important to not simply assign texts based on a 'guided reading level' as leveling schemes are often inaccurate. Teachers must know how to match books with readers and older readers need to learn how to select appropriate texts. Keep in mind that prior knowledge, interest, and motivation will influence how well one reads.
  3. Build and/or maintain a robust media center and ensure that media specialists/librarians have time to work with faculty and students. Great school libraries can be the center of a robust reading and writing community.
  4. Ensure all students have daily opportunities to compose sustained text and engage in writing. This means that students should be involved in observing, generating ideas, testing hypothesis, writing sustained text, conversing about ideas and written texts, writing drafts and revisions, editing texts, publishing works, and commenting on published works. Students composing multi-modal works will need access to a variety of media (audio, video, computer-generated, written, and movement) when creating work.  Writing tools need to be available.
  5. When it comes to composing, do not shy away from accuracy and meaning.  Learners need to be supported in composing texts that are accurate and meaningful and principals and teachers need to expect accuracy and meaningful work from all learners. 
  6. Ensure all students have sustained daily opportunities to discuss ideas, questions, and insights about what they have experienced, read, written, thought about, and imagined. Students should speak for sustained amounts of time. 
  7. Ensure that teachers read aloud high quality text (narrative, informational, expository, and argumentative) to students on a daily basis and that they provide ample time for all students to respond to the ideas generated through the read aloud through discussion and other modes of communication (drawing, writing, drama).
  8. Value rereading. On a daily basis having time to carefully read and reread quality text is important. 
  9. Scaffold content area texts to ensure all readers have the opportunity to compose knowledge.  This may mean providing time for students to read on their own, to engage in buddy reading, or to listen to an audio version of the text. After/during reading, learners should be provided time and guidance to discuss what they are understanding/misunderstanding. 
  10. Send books home with learners every day with the expectation that home reading will occur. Even if you lose a few books in the process, it will be worth it.
  11. Ensure that learners have what they need to read well, such as reading glasses. 

Beautiful work matters.


  1. Reading this makes me think how important libraries are for providing students many opportunities for finding books they will want to read. Thank you for the support you have always shown to school libraries.

    1. Thanks Deb. You know I value librarians and libraries. So easy to do. At the center of a robust literacy school are libraries. Hope you are ok. Looks like we might get power back next Friday night.