Last year I began a reading requirement in my class. I know, some of you are inwardly groaning but I swear it isn't as bad as it sounds. My students are to read 25 books this year. Crazy right? Nope.
The requirements are simple and include the students reading books from every YA genre, but with no page/length requirement except for no picture books. Why a requirement? Because research shows that the more kids read, the better readers they become. They also need to see that they are capable of reading more. One big thing that is lacking in most requirements is the element of choice. Kids need to feel in control of what they do. Although I have provided some restrictions, they still have a level of choice.
What I LOVE about this is my involvement with my students. I have built up a classroom library, so they never have to leave the class to get a book. We do have a school library, but I tend to keep books that aren't found there. I also will recommend books to my students and hold book talks. This happens because I read all of the books I purchase for my class. Knowing that I have read these books, helps build trust between myself and the students.
I ask the students opinion about what they have read and expect honesty. I have used journal responses and created groups on Goodreads.com for this purpose also. What do kids like as much as being given a choice? Being allowed to give their opinion!
Lastly, since I have begun to attend YA author festivals and conferences I have access to swag. This is a term my students have learned very quickly! All of my students LOVE bookmarks and author signatures. This helps to get even the most reluctant readers excited to read books. I want to again say a special thanks to Joanne Levy for sending me a class set of signed bookmarks. The kids went WILD for them (even the boys)!
All of this is really fun and gets my teenagers reading, but writing is a whole different ball game. My goal this year is to get more writing than ever from my students. I hope to accomplish this by inviting local authors to come in to give writing lessons. If you know of any that would jump at the chance to do this, please send them my way! I will be researching the cost and availability of authors in my area (Allentown, Pennsylvania area) and presenting this info. to get approval soon. Yay!
Any thoughts on this approach? Anything teachers you know are doing to build reading and writing in their classrooms?