Modeling SSR

I know I’ve mentioned this before but modeling SSR makes a huge difference in a student’ willingness to read. In the article “The Power of Independent, Self-Selected Reading in the Middle Grades” (Stairs and Burgos, 2010), Atwell is quoted discussing what she was taught by her students about independent reading and what independent reading within the context of school could do for them:

The ability to read for pleasure and personal meaning, like writing ability, is not a gift or talent. It comes with the ability to choose, books to choose among, time to read, and a teacher who is a reader.

To add to that, I must mention that it takes not only a teacher who is a reader, but a teacher who is willing to forgo the time for paperwork/attendance/whatever to pick up a book and show the students what SSR looks like. If you look at the presentation I posted last week on how people learn, it talks about how we learn most through vision. We are more likely to internalize the things we see. This is why modeling is so important.A particular event that came to mind was SSR one day when I wasn’t reading. Usually most of my fourth hour class (save two who are adamantly against reading), will settle in and do the 15-20 minutes that I ask for. That particular day, the 7th grade Title I Language Arts teacher needed advice/guidance, so I talked to her during this time. Because I was talking, I think my students took it as a cue that I wasn’t serious about reading, so they talked as well.

I also think having read what the students are reading independently, as well as a willingness to take their recommendations, is key to fostering life-long readers. If a student can come to me and say, “You totally need to read this,” and I come back later and say, “Okay, I read this and here are my thoughts,” they realize that what they have to say has value. With validation comes the confidence to put themselves out there, not just when recommending books, but in other arenas as well.

Stairs, A.J., Burgos, S. S. (2010). The power of independent, self-selected reading in the middle grades. Middle School Journal, 41(3), 41-48.

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