My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

February 24, 2013

Permission or forgiveness?

I've become the primary literacy teacher for 10 students in 4th and 5th grade.  I'm implementing a tier 3 intervention targeted at ELLs who are two years (or more) below grade level.

I'm doing well with the intervention, but something is missing.

It's been five weeks, and I haven't figured out who my students are as readers.

Ask any staff member in my building about anyone in my class.  They will tell you they know what kind of readers I have in my class:
The kids who don't read.  The kids who don't know where their library books are. The kids who check out a book and return it the next week, unread.  The kids who don't ever take an Accelerated Reader test.  Ever.  The kids who pretend to read.  The kids who may never succeed in school.  The kids everyone shakes their head at.

What's a teacher to do?  I promised my principal that I would implement this intervention with fidelity.  I would spend the entire afternoon using the intervention and delivering the instruction the way it was written.

I might have to ask for some forgiveness.  I've been starting the afternoon with some independent reading. Some kids have jumped right in and read (or "read") for the whole ten minutes.  Some kids are reading for most of the time, but they usually have their eyes on others and their mouth open, talking.

All kids are holding a book for ten minutes.  You have to start somewhere, right?

I'm their literacy teacher.  I must figure out ways to get the right books in their hands and inspire them to try reading.  It's my job.  It's essential


  1. Everyone seems to be reflecting on reading today! Hang in there, Chris. I taught one of those intervention reading classes for a couple of years. One that was magically supposed to raise reading scores. The only good thing about it was it had reading time built in to it. Personally, I believe that's why many scores went up. Not the rest of it.

    I've been doing a 10 minute read at the beginning of my freshmen classes since Jan. There are a few who fake it, but most are getting drawn in and finding books they like.

    Keep your 10 minutes. If the rest of the afternoon is done with fidelity, 10 minutes isn't going to hurt anything. In fact, it may help!

  2. Good for you, Chris! I know how you feel: my kids are how yours would be in 9 or 10 years if you didn't taje your 10 minutes. Since you are doing it now, they might not lose all those years in between! Mine were so reluctant (and some still are), but I'm getting them one by one. It's hard, but it's worth it, and I hope your principal will see that!

  3. Figuring out who your students are as readers is not as important as what you are doing: pursuing figuring them out as readers. I have an elusive reader (or two) this year. I am continuously thinking I have figured him out and finding out how wrong I am. You are right. It is essential to keep at it!

  4. I'm glad I've got all of you on my side. I've decided that these 10 minutes are crucial, and I'll make sure to have books for them to read as well (I trade rooms with another teacher in the afternoons). I'm determined to help my students build a positive habit of reading!