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Required Reading?

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In her Ask the Mentor columns Creating Readers, 6th grade language arts and social studies teacher Donalyn Miller discusses how to get students interested in reading. An important part of generating interest, she says, is allowing students to choose their own books. "I do not believe that students should be required to read certain texts," Miller says.

Which do you think is a more effective method of teaching—requiring certain texts for all students or letting students choose their own books? Do you think allowing students to choose their own texts has the potential to create lazy readers or lower standards? Is it feasible to allow students to choose their texts, given testing and curriculum requirements? What method do you employ in your classroom?

6 Comments

Giving students the opportunity to choose their own texts doesn't lower standards or create lazy readers. SSR, in the hands of a teacher like Ms. Miller, is the most powerful tool we have to build reading skills. Sadly, most teachers aren't like Mrs. Miller in their use of SSR time. They either over monitor (artifically; with tests, reports, etc.) or under monitor (no follow-up to reading and they use time to grade papers or answer email). But the notion that the whole class novel is what makes students readers is not supported by research. I believe the best classes will have both--including time to read in class.The whole class novel, though, has to be something very special: carefully selected and carefully taught.

I agree with the Ramona Lowe. If students are going to love to read then they need to read what they love. Students may even feel smarter when their teacher does not say no to reading their favorite author. Isn't that what we want from our students? To feel smarter and better about themselves?

I completely agree that students should choose thier book. I am not a teacher yet, but I can say first hand that children will enjoy reading more if they read something they enjoy. I used to LOVE reading. I was teased by my siblings because I read so much. But when I was forced to read certain books in school, my joy of reading decreased. I still have a hard time just sitting a reading a book that I most likely will enjoy. I vow to not let my students go through that.

Choice is a powerful teaching tool. Teachers who support students' choices, in literature and in content areas, create self-actualizing learners.
In my opinion, equally important is creating a culture of literacy, a part of which involves shared literacy experiences, such as group novels. Using group and individual reading data and formative assessment to inform instruction is the key to empowering readers.

Well I guess we're all on the same thinking about 'students choosing their own reading material'; I to agree that this is a much better way to motivate reading.
However, there is a 'wrinkle' to that concept; students should be able to choose what they want to read in school (why not they will for the rest of their lives), but under close supervision by the teacher; I mean students 'choose their books' but before reading they must submit each for approval from their teacher. I think if just this guideline is carry through, we will have more and more kids who will find their 'love for reading' than ever before.
Thx
dcl

Great topic to discuss. Students in my English 11 enjoy their SSR time. However, we are reading Mar Twain right now and for the first time in my short 3 years as a 2nd career teacher, they enjoy it. I can almost say with absolute assurance that they would have never picked Twain to read. However, we are now working with exploring dialect, SAT-prep words, satire, and historical topics. I think students should have time to read their picks and be taught to enjoy their assigned readings. Sure that's pretty obvious for most of us.

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Recent Comments

  • Leigh Stein/Lennox Academy English 11: Great topic to discuss. Students in my English 11 enjoy read more
  • Donna C Lee: Well I guess we're all on the same thinking about read more
  • Kim, Teacher: Choice is a powerful teaching tool. Teachers who support students' read more
  • Rochelle Cotten, student at Marshall University: I completely agree that students should choose thier book. I read more
  • Bailey Student: I agree with the Ramona Lowe. If students are going read more

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