Saturday, January 23, 2010

Active Readers Know the Difference

When kids read in class, it is always fun to catch them "pretending" to read. They think you can't tell. I always let it go a few minutes to see if they can pull it together themselves, and if not, I move over next to them for a conference. Oops...they are being kept accountable...and they were not the active reader they aspired to be. No worries, we talk about it right then and there and they help me figure out what needs to be done to fix the situation so they can focus and really read.

We always distinguish between fake reading and real reading, so to speak. They identify and chart a list of what pretend reading looks and sounds like vs. what real reading sounds and looks like. They always come up with a ton, and each one can be a lesson.

Fake Reading (A few popular items on the list, this isn't all):
Moving around
Eyes not on the pages
Talking to neighbors
Watching the clock
Can't remember what you read
Don't know what is happening
Doesn't know they are confused
Doesn't react to any parts

Real Reading (again, not the exhaustive list):
Sitting or lying quietly
Eyes on the page
Not flipping pages
Laughing at things
Crying at parts
Lose track of time
Know exactly what's happening
Knows when self is confused
Uses strategies to try to understand

There are a number of reasons kids "pretend" read, and we have touched on some:
  • Book isn't Just Right
  • Tired
  • Cranky
  • Unfocused
  • Sitting uncomfortably
  • Room too hot
  • Room too cold
And the list goes on and on...they can give you reasons up and down until next week...

BUT! If they know they are doing it...they can stop themselves. I teach them how to handle each situation. For example, if they are uncomfortable...move! If they are tempted to talk...move to a quiet area! If their book isn't just right...get one that is.

Kids don't realize that they are in control of their reading lives way too often. They think they need an adult's permission to monitor their every move. A lot of times, that is why you get them resisting. If THEY are the ones fixing it, they will be on board.

Want your kids to start to read? Give them a little responsibility. Tell them they can manage parts on their own, like finding a comfortable spot where they won't be distracted. Remember Matt likes to set the timer in the kitchen so he doesn't get all focused on that. He wants to put all his attention on the reading. But he made that choice, not me. He knew himself as a reader, and tried to solve his problem. I didn't impose limits.

Ask your kids to tell you what they think fake reading and real reading is...chances are, if they don't like to read, they've been doing a fair share of faking it. It's a survival skill, but it needs to stop if there is going to be reading growth.

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