Friday, February 03, 2006

Reading Days

I have decided that, whatever I teach, one class period a week - at least - will be devoted entirely to reading.

I've heard stories about reading initiatives. I think Kizz mentioned that she worked in a school (visited? I can't remember the details, but I think they're in a comment to a post from this site) where there was some sort of announcement over the PA system and everyone, from the principal to the janitors to the lunch ladies, stopped everything they were doing and read for a set amount of time. I've also heard about DEAR - Drop Everything And Read - which I'm gathering is a similar sort of scenario.

The point, though, is that it's a fantastic thing. A beautiful, useful, important thing. We had reading days today in the freshman 200 classes. CT is good and sick with a NASTY cold (please, send any spare good energy you might have her way - Poor Baby) and decided that today would make a good reading day. We got the classes settled in, made sure everyone had a book, and read for the entire period. Everyone - us included.

It doesn't matter what you read, really (though we put a stop to the kids reading teen magazines that were laying around for use as poster-fodder). CT's rule is that it has to be a BOOK, but it doesn't matter what book. You could read for a class assignment, you can read for pleasure. CT has a basket of books that she's culled from the book room in the school and students can choose from them. One student is reading one of the Harry Potter installments. I began (and now, can't put down) The Secret Life of Bees. CT started Princess. The point is that, for damned near fifty minutes, every single soul in that room was reading - even kids who "hate" to read.

Some teachers don't hold to the idea. They argue that there's precious little instructional time as it is, and that "wasting" an entire class period - especially on a regular basis - only puts one behind in the curriculum. I'm not sure I could disagree more. Certainly, there are no specific lessons that can be delivered, especially if everyone is reading something different. I contend wholeheartedly that time spent reading is never wasted time. I also think it's important for kids to see adults reading, and to see them really engrossed in the process.

I'm going to adopt it as a policy in my own classrooms. Count on it.


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