As I walk into classrooms during the literacy block, I often see students engaged in good literacy centers including word work, working with a teacher at the guided reading table, listening to reading via the computer, kindle, or Ipad, playing literacy games using technology, and writing in response to a writing prompt. However, in some classrooms I see little, if any, sustained reading going on by the students.
The time spent in guided reading is often the only time students are reading and this is only for about 4-5 minutes in many of the classrooms I observed. It reminds me of a sports analogy I heard in a professional development that basically says a good baseball coach can tell you how to hit the ball, saying things like “all you have to do is keep your eye on the ball” and “you have to swing the bat when the ball is pitched to you”. If the player isn’t allowed time to practice, will he/she be successful in hitting the ball just from listening to the coach’s directions? In his book What Really Matters for Struggling Readers: Designing Research-Based Programs, Richard Allington (2001) suggests that children should spend a minimum of one and a half hours a day reading in school. Instructional time is in addition to these ninety minutes.
While one and a half hours seems impossible to achieve, when you start adding up things like morning message, shared reading, guided reading, readers’ workshop, read to self, drop everything and read, flashlight reading, and reading in other subject areas, I hope you find you are getting closer to and even exceeding this goal!
Donna Lehning, M. Ed.
Wolfpack Works Literacy Coach