This semester, students in READ 6310 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.
Peer pressure is a term typically used to influence negative aspects of life. For example, there could be a five year old wanting the latest Transformers shirt because everybody in his school has it. In my case introducing class novels into my classroom has not only encouraged my top readers but also non-readers. As a second grade teacher I encourage all my students to read along with me. However, I notice that my struggling readers try to listen and decode unknown words. This means that there is a reading seed growing in their little minds. Now, the question is, how does peer pressure influence literature? There may be numerous answers for this question. However, it all depends on the literacy environment practiced by teachers and students.
For the past few weeks I have been encouraging my students to read chapter books. I placed a chart on the board that asks students to recommend books to their classmates. This chart successfully involved students in reading different genres. However, students are interested in the same topics that teachers read to them. When we have literacy talks about read alouds most of the students tend to read books from the same author. Sharing my reading experiences as a child with my students has immensely increased their interest in reading chapter books. For instance, I referred my students to the Junie B. Jones book series by Barbara Park. As a result the majority of the students checked out Junie B. Jones books. Not only were they able to identify their teacher’s interests but theirs too.
This week I introduced a new novel called La Casa del Arbol #1: Dinosaurios al atardecer by Mary Pope Osborne. I decided to read the novel on Monday afternoon but, to my surprise most of my students had already began reading the first chapters of the novel. It seemed like my students were eager to read and learn about dinosaurs. Thereafter, I noticed that my struggling readers were holding the same chapter book. As a teacher I did not want to discourage their interest in reading lengthy texts. While the rest of the students read independently I provided support to my struggling readers. The purpose of these novels is to read them together as a class but my students took it upon themselves. Therefore, this proves that an interest for reading influenced my entire class equally. The fact that most of the students were reading a chapter book positively peer pressured struggling readers.
Peer pressure is not always negative. In my case peer pressure unconsciously engaged my struggling readers into reading chapter books. The only thing the teacher had to do was to purposely share her reading interests. Consequently, students unconsciously influenced each other’s interests in reading.