One of my (self appointed) jobs in the library is to work with each year 8 English class in Wide Reading. They come in one lesson a fortnight (either to me or TA if I’m teaching my own classes), get a book chat, browse, read, jot down the bibliography for that book and then do 5-10 mins of questions at the end of the session.
We’ve had a lot of bugs we’ve been sorting over the year, such as:
- Students set a reading goal and filled in an interest inventory and reading reflection which took a LOT of time and slowed down the momentum to begin with.
- Teachers are supposed to model reading during this time but many don’t (still working on that with the English Head)
- Students are browsing forever and not reading. I think this is a combination of enjoying browsing (hey, I do!) but also an avoidance tactic. Some students simply don’t know what it’s like to shut and and read.
- The time it takes for students to record bibliography details and questions.
- Our TA not having a lot of confidence in her ability to do this (she previously didn’t have much regular student interaction beyond the front desk).
The wide reading kit gets changed every fortnight and is made to make TA and my life easier.
- Pens and whiteboard markers
- That classes’ wide reading booklets (we keep them in a pigeon hole for that class- they’re just A5 books cut in half). There’s also an example booklet so TA knows what the booklet should look like.
- Class lists with class’ reading interests and goals for the term (kept in pigeon hole)
- Spare reading reflections and interest inventories
- 5 recommended reads for students (students’ can’t borrow them until the fortnight is over)
- A clipboard with my Book Chat notes for TA- notes on every recommended book for that fortnight- content, reading level (there’s always an easy read and a challenge), a spiel to get kids hooked, etc.
Things I’m planning to do to improve WR in Term 2:
- Project a timer for browsing. Make it clear when browsing time is up rather than simply say “Another minute!”
- Cut down to 4 books- makes the book chats shorter and snappier.
- A second box with a selection of much lower level reads-carefully screened. Many kids still can’t access some of the recommended books and in some cases, these students use browsing time to much about.
- I’m thinking of changing the writing Qs to discussion Qs. They’re good Qs that encourage deeper thought than plot retelling and I like the idea of recording the bibliography details (and the History and Geography teachers love it) but I think that the nature of writing about it kills the joy. I might replace this with a fun written activity from time to time.
We’ll see how it goes.