Making Room for Independent Reading: How

You COULD just tell your kids to go read for 20 minutes, and then you could grade some papers. It would be great for catching up on that never ending stack of grading, but it's not the best strategy if your goal is to increase your students' reading ability.

Making room for independent reading: what do with the time during the most important component of your literacy block.
So, how are you going to get the most out of your independent reading time?  I'll be honest with you, for the majority of my classroom experience, I announced that it was independent reading time and expected them to get busy.

They didn't.

I spent time way too much time managing the behaviors.  You might recognize a few of these from your classroom:

1. Staring everywhere in the room except the book in their hands.

2. Emergency bathroom use.  Daily.

3. Book shopping that filled 99.9% of the independent reading time.

4. Random page flipping accompanied by fake reading.

5.  Miscellaneous off task behavior-talking, roaming around the room, etc.

A significant amount of time and energy was spent managing behaviors without ever addressing where these behaviors came from.  I was treating them as classroom management behaviors rather than reading behaviors.

Whoops.  So how do you create a shift in your classroom?

My literacy block underwent a radical change when I read The Daily 5 (affiliate link) by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  Their lessons on building stamina and teaching kids HOW to read independently was a total game changer.  I only hate how common sense the lessons are because it makes me feel like a big dummy for not figuring it out on my own.

You can read tons online about the Daily 5, but none of it will replace reading the actual book.  Do yourself a favor and invest the time to read it.  Even if you don't fully embrace the model, the idea of teaching kids to be independent will rock your literacy block.

Helping my kids know what to do with that time and how to use it made a HUGE difference in the quality of our independent reading time.

And now that I know how to teach the kids what to do, I am learning what to do with that time as a teacher to help students grow.  Some time ago, I purchased The Reading Strategies Book (affiliate link) by Jennifer Serravallo.  It's simply an incredible book.  The strategy lessons (300 one page lessons!) are perfect for whole class, small group, or individual instruction.

I've been in love with the idea of focusing lessons on the individual student based on self selected texts.  I think it's an incredible way for students to learn, but I just could not wrap my head around it.  I was recently able to attend an all day workshop with Jennifer Serravallo, and it was a total game changer.

I'm a see it in action kind of gal.  There are tons of helpful videos from Jennifer Serravallo on Heinemann's YouTube Channel.  I think if you start to work this into your independent reading time, you'll find tremendous value in it.  Even to the point where you would start to shorten your small group time and start allotting some of that time to your individual/small group strategy lessons (which sure would help with Part 2: When)

Next up on my reading list is No More Independent Reading Without Support (affiliate link) by Debbie Miller and Barbara Moss.  At 96 pages, I think it would make a great book study for a school.
How are you getting more out of your independent reading time?  Any tips for me or must read books?

You can read the other two parts here:

Making Room for Independent Reading-Part 1: Why

Making Room for Independent Reading-Part 2: When