When I published the top reading tips from educators post last month, I was so excited to share those tips with parents and anyone who has kids in their lives. I’m still excited, because I think that post is a great start for people to know how to interact with kids and their books.
But I’m even more thrilled because that post sparked an idea for a blog series that I’m calling “Things Good Readers Do.” In it, I will share my approach to teaching reading comprehension – and a love of reading itself – to my students.
Though I’m writing from a teacher’s perspective, the habits and strategies that I’ll share in this series can be used by anyone who wants to become a better reader themselves or help children in their life to become better readers.
I’m eager to share my hard-won philosophy and practices with you because teaching reading is my favorite part of school.
I get giddy inside (and maybe even hop up and down ecstatically) when I :
- Watch my students fall in love with a story and not even realize that they love it until the end
- Hear students tell me at the end of the school year that they have either read more books than the year before or like reading more after being in my class – or both!
- Get a front row seat to students applying what I’m teaching and growing in the confidence that yes, they can read
This observable progress both in their actions and mindset is a special kind of magic and is, in its own way, miraculous. Growth always is, after all.
Plus, their progress affirms that the way I’m teaching is helping to create lifelong readers – which is exactly my goal.
Most teachers would probably agree that cultivating lifelong readers should be or is their goal. However, a lot of what I see – and this is not a condemnation – is a focus on teaching standards rather than helping kids discover the magic and wonder of reading.
I think we can fall into missing the forest for the trees – getting so caught up in the details of the standards that we miss the big picture of how those standards help kids read in the first place.
Having taught in a public school, I know firsthand the pressure that comes from high-stakes testing when teaching low-supported students. In this context, where students haven’t had reading role models, it so easy to give in to the pressure to simply “get through” the standards and strategies in any way possible. Usually, this type of teaching winds up as a list of a bunch of things kids should do to become better readers, but they’ve never seen how it all fits together.
For instance: using isolated passages to teach things like main idea or setting. When we use isolated passages, kids don’t always have the background knowledge for it, and they usually have no clue why they’re reading about it when it has nothing to do with anything they’re learning about in any other subject. But the curriculum says it’s great for teaching main idea, so we have the kids read it anyway.
I know I saw myself doing that exact same thing in my first couple of years of teaching, and I got frustrated because I knew I was not helping kids see the big picture of reading.
However, over the last few years, I’ve developed a way of teaching reading in context as much as possible. And I want to share that with you here.
In this series, I propose this integrated approach:
Explicitly teaching the habits of good readers and the strategies that they use in the context of authentic reading experiences.
By explaining how I do this, I want to offer you, especially if you’re a teacher, some ideas for how to break out of that mold and start being able to see the forest and the trees again.
If you’re a grown-up at home, my goal is that you will be able to apply these ideas with the kids in your home.
If you’re someone who wants to be a better reader yourself, I’ll give you practical ways to implement these habits and strategies.
My exact approach is not guaranteed to work for you.
Nevertheless, I hope that my ideas will give you some ideas that you can use and adjust for yourself. Because, honestly, that’s what I’ve done: taken others’ ideas and made them my own.
It doesn’t matter if that’s recipes, crochet patterns, homemade card designs, or lesson plans. I work best once someone else has gotten my wheels turning.
The way that I teach reading now is, therefore, a conglomeration of ideas from several different people and sources: I’ve been coached by other teachers, inspired by books, and gone digging on other blogs.
And now I have a strong basis of the things that I have found to be effective and essential to teach young readers.
Ready to get started? Here is what you can expect from this blog series:
Who is this series for?
- Teachers of reading
- Grown-ups at home who want more detailed, clear-cut ideas on how to help their kids become better readers – and to love reading
- Anyone who wants to become a better reader
What you can expect in each post?
- an explanation of the habit or strategy
- why it is important to teach it
- the source, if applicable, where I found it
- how I teach the habit/strategy
- any resources that I have found or made – anchor charts, discussion questions, book ideas, etc.
- tips specifically directed toward parents/grandparents/relatives who want to implement these ideas at home
How will this series be organized?
It will be divided into two parts.
As I publish the posts, I’ll hyperlink them here.
Part 1: The Habits of Good Readers
- Finding and Choosing “Just Right” Books
- Abandoning books
- Setting Goals and Tracking Reading
- Making Reading a Habit
- Discussing Texts
Part 2: The Strategies* of Good Readers
- Skimming and Scanning
- Predicting and Questioning
- Making Connections
*These are not the only strategies that good readers use. I’m still working on how I teach crucial strategies like inferring and metacognition. I’ll let you know once I have an approach that I love!
We’ll end with a blog post that puts it all together: an outline or two of how I have taught these ideas in real life in my classroom.
Who’s excited for this series?? Anything you’re particularly curious about?
Tell me in the comments below!
P.S. – Shoutout to my fabulous and talented sister for creating the series graphic for me! Thanks, sis! 🙂