This semester students in READ 6310 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.
By Rebekah Muñoz
Getting students interested in reading has been a very challenging task for me as a teacher. I am often bombarded with comments about how boring it is to read. I have tried different tactics and the ones I have found to be the most rewarding are read alouds and creating questions. The first book I tried this with was The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. At first I was a little worried that I would be met with disapproval or complaints but it turned out to be a great book to start off with!
All students have their own book to follow along with, as this helps with their engagement, comprehension, and fluency. I also had my students create and decorate a “book” foldable to write down questions while I read. I begin by reading the title, looking at the cover and reading the synopsis of the story. I instruct my students to write down three pre-reading questions on the first page of their foldable in silence. After they are finished they read their questions out loud and we have a discussion, during which, they try to make predictions and offer answers to the questions. As I begin to read I tell my students to feel free and record any further questions they have as we continue. At the end of each chapter we read the questions to each other and enjoy a lively conversation. My students really were analyzing the text as they were trying to prove their answers with evidence. As simple as this sounds my students were really engaged in this activity and demonstrated a clear understanding because of this questioning strategy. The students really enjoyed listening to me read with different expressions and voices. Coming up with questions seemed to turn into a game as my students tried to come up with the most unique questions for the characters and the plot.
At our school the students are supposed to test on a non-fiction book weekly. I always catch students trying to cheat by skimming through the books for the answers without reading. Disappointed that students do not appreciate reading non-fiction books I decided to try out my two strategies. We started to read Cynthia Ann Parker:Comanche Captive by Tracie Egan which is about a young Anglo girl kidnapped by Comanche Indians. Their initial comments were that the book was probably going to be boring because the picture on the cover was black and white. But by the end of the book the questions kept coming and we even resorted to the internet to look up more information about the topic. Success! I smiled at my students hoping they would tell me that I was right, reading non-fiction isn’t boring, but interesting and fun. Although I didn’t get a definite answer, I’ll interpret their grins as a yes! I have had great success with these two approaches. They are simply, easy to implement and produce great results. I recommend using them to help reluctant readers enjoy reading.