Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Student Selected Voluntary Reading

Another new activity that I started this year is SSVR. I never thought this was powerful enough to incorporate and I didn't think the students would take it seriously. At #iFLT15 this summer Dr Krashen mentioned that one could improve his proficiency from novice high to the top of the scale in 3 years by reading daily. This could be condensed to a short time frame with longer periods of reading, however. This changed my perspective on having students reading regularly.

Initially I thought we could use our class novel to read daily. However I was quickly reminded that this should be a student-selected reading and it should be whatever level book she wants, even if it means the book is far below her reading level. It doesn't have to be a challenge; it just has to be fun! Reinforcement of old words helps solidify one's vocabulary base.

This week we started SSVR for the first few minutes of class. I knew the answer, but needed a little more guidance so I went to my Facebook group to see how to best start out with SSVR. They had some good suggestions for me. I decided to present the idea to the students and read for 5 minutes. After reading, they completed a brief graph to hold them minimally accountable.

Bryce Hedstrom was unknowingly and instrumentally guiding me to make this work. I adapted his bookmark to give my students. We talked about ways to determine meaning of words they don't know when reading their books. I explained my own struggling experience learning to read in another language and how I overcame those struggles. Yes, I nearly gave up a degree in Spanish because I was too afraid of reading! I am still going strong 23 years later. I am living proof that reading can happen.

Before they grabbed a book to read, I showed the students their options in the classroom library, divided into proficiency levels of novice, intermediate, and advanced. I acquired books by buying them in book stores, library sales, garage sales, donations from my students' families, donations from other sources, and also flea markets and book stores over seas. I explained to them that all the books in the classroom library are my personal books and magazines for them to use and read. Some are very very old, others are brand new. They are available to them as a gift from me because I believe in their learning. The only payment I ask from them is that they respect the reading material and love reading.


After day 1, they are having a good time reading. Many students noted that they found a book that was easy for them to read and that they enjoyed the experience. I was equally excited at the number of students who wanted to challenge themselves with an advanced book. I am fully aware that this is the honeymoon period and that we will have to have more "meat" in the reading time in the near future. So, readers, if you do SSVR with your students, what are some activities that you use to keep them wanting more each day?

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