Encouraging Reading Each Day– One of the great changes that have happened this year at North is the allocation of RTI time during the school day. Teachers are using data to identify students that need more support during a unit or on a particular essential learning and using 30 minutes at the start of the day to provide extra instruction, guided practice, time, and assistance. Awesome! One problem, though, with this new use of time is now many students are not receiving that sacred, silent-sustained reading time built into their school day as in the past. I ran across this article on Twitter from Edutopia and it got me thinking about how “fake reading” was a real struggle when students were expected to read for 25 minutes each day. I was hoping for some quick fixes here but by the end of the article I was feeling as though we really were doing the right things– providing time for choice reading, having books on display and available for student use, talking about books, making our own reading visible (modeling and posting our current reads outside our classroom doors) and so on. I know this article is written from the perspective of an English/Language Arts teacher, but we know that providing students with an environment that encourages reading is beneficial. It got me thinking about ways to continue to encourage students to read without that built-in, guaranteed time. Here’s a few ideas for ways to work it in and continue to build that positive culture of reading throughout the building:
- Think about squeezing in a few minutes of choice reading time when transitioning to a new activity and setting up supplies, passing out papers, waiting for a video to load, etc. This does require students to still carry a book of choice with them throughout the school day.
- Take a brain break by telling students about what you are currently reading. Maybe read a quick excerpt– students love to listen to you read.
- Show a quick book talk clip to spark interest in the topic of the class period or tie to current events.
- Ask students to share the title of the last book they read– this can be a quick, around-the-room for those that want to share or could be written in journals, posted on a whiteboard as a prompt, Post-it activity, etc.
- Switch up your homework routine. Throw this in as an unexpected surprise assignment instead of the usual work, especially if your students consistently have homework. Feel the need for accountability? Provide a writing prompt for students to respond to about their reading as bellwork the next day.
- Ask Alexa to read a story– she can access passages recently read on your Kindle, sign up for an Audible account for access to thousands of reads, or have her read from websites. When I asked her to read me a story she started reading from where I last left off in Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban! Yes! Alexa, you know me so well.
Using Alexa in the Classroom– Speaking of Alexa, I was at an EdCamp professional development opportunity hosted by our district tech department this weekend and one of the door prizes was an Amazon Echo Dot. It got me thinking about how the Dot I have at home really sits there unused most of the time– we haven’t used any of her useful functions, just the goofy ones like, “Alexa, tell me a joke” or “Alexa, what came first, the chicken or the egg?” So, I brought it in to school. At the very least, Alexa can quickly Google things for me or set timers, right? After doing some searching around online, I found a few posts that I think might convince you to move your Dot to your classroom, too.
- Erintegration.com is a great blog that has all kinds of tips for integrating technology use into your classroom. Her post on using Alexa is a quick read with some fun and useful ideas.
- This post from TCEA.org has even more ideas and ways to use Alexa that are specific to content areas. Check it out!
Also, check out this cool accessory! I can’t wait to purchase these Echo Buttons and have teachers compete head-to-head in Trivial Pursuit or one of the other games available. Fun!
PS– This is in no way a sponsored post. I am not receiving anything from Amazon for mentioning the Echo Dot here.
EdCamp Professional Development– The EdCamp format of professional development is not a new idea to me, as I have participated in a few of them and hosted a sort of mini version here, but I left this one Saturday again feeling like this is such a great opportunity to participate in. The laid-back style of this type of PD is incredibly refreshing. If you have never been I highly recommend you make the time to try it out sometime. Participants create a list of topics to be discussed, then they split up and talk about them. It is a great way to get to know other educators and to hear new perspectives and ideas. I participated in sessions on differentiation, secondary technology, and motivating reluctant learners. Since there is no presenter with a set agenda the participants guide the conversation to what is relevant for them. Keep an eye out for an EdCamp opportunity and give it a try!