It is April. The time of the year for a final “push” of learning before summer. Usually, students are really moving academically now. In second grade, students should be able to read and be engaged in silent reading for an extended period of time – about 30 minutes by the end of the year. This is a long time for some, especially if reading is still hard.
For me, “hooked in” silent reading means that the reader is completely engaged in a book of their choice. The book is not too hard, not too easy and just right to read fluently and be able to comprehend what is happening or learn new information. The reader doesn’t even look up; he is so “hooked in” that nothing else in the room distracts from the reading. When silent reading is over, he doesn’t want to stop!
I can tell when students are really reading, because when they are finished, they immediately want to tell someone else about what they read, why it is so good and why their friends should read it next.
I have one student who is a good reader,( I will call him J.) but the “reading independently” thing has only “hooked in” a few times. J usually chooses nonfiction- shark books, dinosaurs, or short chapter books with characters that speak in speech bubbles. Wimpy Kid is a favorite. After a few minutes of looking at pictures and reading captions, he checks out his finger nails, ties and reties his shoes, reads with the book upside down (I think he likes the upside down view of the sharks!), sighs a lot, and watches everyone else read.
Of course, my teacher “troubleshooting” kicks in and I have tried to help numerous times. We check to see if the books are not too hard, (they aren’t) if the topics are interesting, if he is worried about something at home, feeling tired etc.
One day, I whispered to J, “You can learn facts from other kinds of nonfiction books. Try something other than shark books.”
“Take a look at these biographies and tell me something new that you learned.” I was hoping a new purpose would help.
I showed him some books about Martin Luther King Jr. because he is writing a poem about him in writing workshop.
Today, he was really reading – FINALLY!
He looked up at me while the room was quiet and whispered, “YOU WERE RIGHT!”
I looked up from my reading group, told them to keep working and walked over – if I am right about something, I need to know what it is.
Me: What was I right about?
J: You were right! I was talking to my older brother about Martin Luther King. He said M.L.K. was shot in 1963. I told him he was wrong and he was shot in 1968. My brother didn’t believe me. But, this book says 1963 is when he gave the I Have A Dream speech, and he was shot in 1968. So, I was right and my brother was wrong, it’s all here in this book. BAM.
(Apparently, BAM is a verbal exclamation point that J is fond of using in situations such as this.)
J. So, you were right. You can learn things from good books. BAM
Me: (Thinking – again with a BAM, the book must be pretty good.)
Me: Keep reading J. – BAM