Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blasting Off to a Great Year {Getting to Know Your Readers}

Welcome to the Blasting Off to a Great Year blog hop!  Several literacy bloggers have gotten together to share literacy ideas for starting your year off right.  Special thanks to  Carla from Comprehension Connection and Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars for organizing this hop.

One of the things that I think is so important is getting to know your students as readers as quickly as possible.  Sure, we all use sight word lists, running records, phonics screeners, fluency passages, etc. to figure out where the kids are academically.  But it is just as important to determine their interests and attitudes in relation to reading as well.

Why?  Say you have a student reading at or above grade level...well if you don't know how to capture that child's interest there is no guarantee he/she is going to continue to grow as a reader.  And if you have kids reading below grade level, getting them motivated and interested in reading is going to be a huge factor or else the child may just give up.

Here are some of the ways I use to assess my students interests and attitudes towards reading at the start of the year:

  • Allow time for independent reading.  Observe!  Who is up and doing everything but reading?  Who is curled up in the corner actually reading?
  • Allow time for exploration of the classroom library.  Observe some more!  What types of books are drawing in your students the most?  
  • Allow time for free choice reading.  What books are your students choosing to read?  Don't limit choices too much...just see what happens.  Which kids are choosing books that are way too easy or way too hard?  Are they actually reading them?  What about these books is getting their attention?
  • Play lots of "get to know you" type games to figure out what your students do in their free time, what they are interested in, etc.  This way you can find out who is obsessed with dinosaurs, who wants to be a fire fighter, and who loves playing soccer.  All of these things can help you choose texts in the future.
  • Send home a parent survey.  While they might not all come back, those that do can give you some insight as to what you students have excelled in or struggled with in the past.  Parents know what their kids are interested in...sometimes we don't always get information from kids (blank stare?) so by surveying both parents and students you are more likely to get the information you want.
  • Give a student survey.  Below is a survey you can use to help determine some of your students' interests and attitudes towards reading.  You can download this survey from Google docs for free here.

What do you use to get to know your readers at the start of the year?
Click the button below to visit Michelle from Big Time Literacy and see what she has to share!