We’ve all had those class periods that seem to drag on with a flat discussion because half the class didn’t really read the last night’s homework. With all of the shortcuts out there on the internet and sometimes a general apathy that hits teenagers, how do we get them to actually read? Here are some of my ideas and I’d love to hear yours in the comment section below:
1. Introduce with enthusiasm. It doesn’t always work, but I know that sharing the reasons why I fell in love with the book or author goes a long way with some students to get them excited to start reading. It sounds cliché, but attitude really is 90% of teaching sometimes right?
2. Daily reading quizzes. Most of my homework is reading. Read a chapter, read a story, read a speech. I don’t usually assign questions with the reading because I want them to read fluidly and possibly even enjoy what they are reading without the hassle of stopping every paragraph to answer a question (Plus, grading daily homework and reading quizzes on top of regular essays would probably put me over the edge!). Every day after the reading, I give a quick comprehension quiz that is not based on the sparks note version, but the actual reading. During the first quarter, grades suffer, but after that most students figure out that actually reading is the easiest way to pass the quizzes.
3. Talk about the long-term. I teach mostly college prep and honors classes and I find that sometimes high school students need a little perspective. In my most non-condescending voice we have candid talks about the kind of reading skills and self-discipline students will need to compete in college.
4. Put students in charge. Create projects, assignments, and assessments in which students teach the reading. Check out this post for a specific game plan on this one.
5. Leverage technology. Check out these posts on how to enhance curriculum by using resources like collaborize classroom, twitter, prezi, google presentations, google forms, explain everything, iPads, and infographics. Kids love technology, let’s use it to our advantage.
7. Give students options. When possible, allow students to pick a book from a thematic list. For times when the whole class is reading the same book, give choices on the accompanying assignment. For example, for a chapter of The Great Gatsby, choose a character and outline his or her actions and motivations. This allows students to connect more meaningfully with a character that they choose.
8. Use the power of the audio book. My students told me about the librivox app and at first I was a little leery, but now I’ve heard so many success stories that I am sold. I have students who need to read the chapter with the audiobook and others who read first and then listen as a review on their way to school. If they are going to have the headphones in anyway, it might as well be in the name of the classic authors.
9. Teach annotation strategies. Actively teach students how to highlight and write brief notes in the margins. If they become more successful at reading assessments through close reading strategies, they are more likely to feel motivated to actually read and not give up before they start.
What would you add to this list? I think it needs an even 10…