Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Becoming an Active Reader

When I was thinking about what it was that I do that helps kids go from "reluctant readers" to voracious readers, I ran through my school year of plans.

I decided that I will give you a glimpse of that, by offering daily "lessons" to teach or talk to your kids about. Now, some lessons may be easy for your child. Great - don't belabor them. Some lessons, however, will be trickier, and you need to spend some time on them. Let's start a conversation about what is happening and I can delve deeper and specifically for your child.

One of the foundational things I do in my classroom is teach kids to be ACTIVE READERS. That's step one.

Our first order of business is to show the difference. I act out what I look like watching TV. Then I show them what I look like playing Wii. Then I show them what I look like when I am running on the playground (we go out at recess). We talk about what is active, and I do introduce the word passive. Passive just takes in, and doesn't take much energy...the Wii takes a little more, but I am not moving too much...whereas my playground work gets my blood pumping and my brain has to be in gear to safely allow my body to play on the equipment.

I talk about how the brain is a "muscle" that needs to be challenged daily to grow, just like their heart. Being active is the best way to make that happen.

I make a chart with them showing my activity level from passive to active, like a continuum. Then I add a few other activities and where they would fall on my chart. I ask them to also make a chart. For younger kids, they could draw pictures or you could even take pictures.

We then talk about how this relates to reading. It seems like a no brainer, but it isn't. I ask them to think about their activity level when they are reading. We talk about how it is hard to have your body active while you are reading, but they can think about how active their brains are.

A lot of times, they don't know. I know I am asking them to be aware of themselves in a different way, and that isn't "normal" school to them. Most of the time, teachers ask simpler questions - they are in the book. That's where I differ from most.

It's called metacognition. Thinking about what you are thinking. I just like to think it is being aware of yourself.

So back to the kids. I tell them that over the week, we will stop after every reading time and chart where we think our activity level was that day...were we thinking about the reading? were we trying to figure out difficult words? Were our eyes on the pages? Were we looking at the illustrations to help us? OR...were we skimming, scanning, or even eyelids drooping? were we looking around or pretending to read?

This is a big step. Knowing whether you are actually reading. That's the start.

I will give more suggestions on how to go from a passive to an active reader next time!

1 comment:

  1. It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

    I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

    My blog, Books for Boys http://booksandboys.blogspot.com is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And my new book, Lost Island Smugglers - first in the Sam Butler Adventure Series - coming out in June.

    Keep up your good work.

    Max Elliot Anderson

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