Frustration

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Every time we get within 2 weeks of a grading period (quarter or semester) I start getting really frustrated.  Several years ago, the district implemented a silent reading policy for the high school in response to low reading scores on the Iowa Assessments.  Since this policy began we have continued to see an increase in our reading scores for 9th -11th-grade students. Sadly many of the students will attempt to fake read during this time period.  To help with this, I set a goal of 1000 pages a quarter or 2000 pages for the semester, since we are reading for 30 minutes a class period, this should not be a problem.  I remind the students many times throughout the quarter/semester that they need to complete a short book talk with me.  These usually last around 3-4 minutes and as long as I am convinced that they have actually read the book, they get the points. I remind them time and time again that they need to complete these book talks when they are finished, that they need the book, and that they will only be allowed to do one book talk during a class period, and finally that I do the book talks on Thursday and Friday’s during class.  This semester, I have started requiring them to also record their books on Goodreads.  Even with all of this knowledge, and the constant reminders, the students tend to wait until the last week before the grading period ends, they beg to report on more than one book at a time, they insist that I should break my rules about only on Thursday or Fridays and yes, they show up without the book and then try and convince me that the book was around 700-900 pages in length.

How I dream of a day when all of this is not necessary when all students will willing pick up a book and read, just for the pleasure, or to learn something that they are interested in, not because they are forced to read. Yes, I have read such books as Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisper and Reading in the Wild and Penny Kittle’s Book Love.   No matter what I try to do at the high school level, so many students are already turned off to reading and will do everything that they can to resist reading.  I am not going to give up, I am going to keep talking about reading, keep encouraging my students to read and remember that even if I just get one more student hooked on reading, that progress has been made.

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7 thoughts on “Frustration

  1. I can’t imagine what it’s like at the high school level since I teach third grade, but I applaud your efforts. So many our peers have made reading a box that needs to be checked–it’s no surprise some kids see it as a chore. That said, keep fighting the good fight!

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  2. It’s somewhat the same battle in second grade sometimes! The books (and the students, for that matter) may be shorter, but their efforts sometimes to avoid REALLY reading are just as persistent. But it is a battle that can be won, and we just need to keep on trying to connect kids with great books. Hang in there! It’s worth it.

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  3. I teach reading at the middle school level. My students all read below grade level, and while I always have some who do enjoy reading, most do not. But yes, I keep trying, and I do persuade a lot of them. But I agree, it is so frustrating to have those kids you just can’t convince. And the disorganization! It actually makes me feel a little better than you have high schoolers who can’t seem to figure out the system.

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  4. This is a great – article and showed the frustration so many of us in education feel. As the teacher librarian one thing I have found is having students tell other students about the books they’re reading is very helpful. So sometimes I just have them sit in groups of 4 or 5 with their books. They can read a favorite (so far) passage, talk freely about the book, or simply list the characters, setting and plot. They are NOT allowed to read the back cover or any forwards. With younger students, I find that having them write the Title and Author along with drawing the front cover or a character/scene, then giving it a rating of 0-5 stars is helpful. We display the books along with their “review/rating around the library. Students love to read what others recommend. Also, our libraries use Destiny Quest electronic cataloging system, I believe your district does as well. There is a book review feature there, similar to good reads, but the books are guarenteed to be in your school library. Students and teachers can write reviews and rate them, then when a student is looking for a good book, they can search the online catalog and see what others recommend. Lastly, video/audio record your book talks with them, then attach a QR code to the cover of the book that renders a YouTube video Or MP3 of your conversation.

    Have some fun with this, have contests to see who has read the most, which children’s book is the favorite in each class. Pull out all the stops! Remind them of the joys to be found in the pages of books. Keep up the good fight!

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  5. Thank you for sharing your frustrations. I worked with below grade level readers at the high school level for a few years, and we developed a program that involved a ton of reading time. Boy, did some kids really, really, really get creative trying to not read. But some of them did get hooked, and some of them finished their first books even, and a lot of them really improved their reading skills. On the bad days (whenever we are near a grading period!), it does not seem worth it, but on the good days, we know it is. Hang in there!

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  6. It crushes my heart seeing this pattern rise through the grades. I hate that we get so involved in testing that we become removed for the LOVE of reading. Just remember, if you model your love of reading, it is the best bet for students to do the same.
    Best of luck and glad you’re willing to not give up!

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