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Secrets of self-selected reading time for High Schoolers

Updated on January 30, 2011

Silent Self-selected Reading in High School

A staple of my Reading Workshop is allowing students total choice in what to read. I stake out twenty to thirty minutes of each class period (I teach in a block schedule) and have student read silently. There are some important planning pieces that have helped this to work in my classroom.

They are:

  1. Have a decent classroom library with a wide selection of fiction and non-fiction.
  2. Take frequent trips to the school library as a class to select high interest books.
  3. Establishing a culture of silent reading, even if that means I pull up a chair in between two chatty Cathy’s and read.
  4. Model being a reader. During this time, I pull out a book and read right along with the kids.
  5. Book talk, book talk, book talk. Let kids know about the rich selection of literature that is available to them. They are far more likely to find a book that matches their interests if they hear about it first.
  6. Allow kids to get comfy. I have three bean bag chairs in my room. Not a class period goes by in which students don’t sit in them during reading time. I also allow kids to spread out across the room. They love carving out their own space.
  7. Start with smaller increments of time and build up to the twenty or thirty minutes. I started with nine minutes in the first few weeks of school and added a minute or two each couple days.
  8. Solve off-task behavior immediately. If I notice a kid goofing around, I know he isn’t engaged in what he is reading. I know I have to help him find something different. Ripley’s Believe It or Not books work wonders for a kid who just can’t get into a longer text during a specific reading time.
  9. Immediately following reading time, I ask kids to journal. I require them to write four sentences summarizing what they read and telling me what they think about it. I can tell a lot about my students' comprehension from their responses. Some kids respond in detail and I know they are comprehending the text. Others fake their journal entry or give me really vague answers and I know they are fake reading. Some students want me to help them talk through their journal first and this gives me a chance to conference with them-a wonderful teaching tool.

Having conducted self-selected reading time for a while, I would say it is the corner stone of what I do in my reading classroom. I see even the most reluctant readers engage in texts during this time. Don’t get me wrong, I still have the few who just prop the book open instead of opening their minds. I gently encourage them to find different books or to find a way to engage in the book they have chosen.

Each day is a learning process, but if I am going to repeat anything next year, it will be this block of reading time. Huzzah!


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    • artlader profile image

      artlader 6 years ago from Aiken, South Carolina, USA

      Sorry about the typographical errors, there, Kate.

      I am just no good at multitasking.

      - Art

    • KateMcGregor profile image

      KateMcGregor 6 years ago from Cheyenne, Wyoming

      Wow. Thanks. Sounds like your school has wonderful priorities. Thanks for the nice comment!

    • artlader profile image

      artlader 6 years ago from Aiken, South Carolina, USA

      Thank you, Kate.

      My high school is currently very focused on getting students to simply read more. so, you can imagine how interesting this hub is to me. :-)

      I voted it up and sent the URL to our administration.