I-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t, do you know what that mean, mayne? If not, I'm talking about independent reading. It's BAAAAACK... I think there was a time in my career when I felt like silent, independent reading in my classroom looked like I was taking a 15-20 minute break, and I didn't want my evaluator to walk in and see the students just reading! How dare I let them read in class, but I don't care how it looks anymore because it is soooooo good for students.

Here is why I'm bringing back silent reading and more independent reading, in general, as a routine in  my class: Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle published a book called 180 Days. In the book, they discuss mapping out a year of reading and independent reading was something they stressed the importance of over and over again. Independent reading doesn't just mean students get to choose whatever book they want to read, but we also teach them how to choose books, read books, understand books, develop an identity as a reader, and develop stamina. These skill sets are imperative in shaping life-long readers! In the words of Kittle and Gallagher, "We are determined to create a live circuit between our students and books." We need to get students to start reading again, so we can "move students from dormancy to engagement, and then to higher volume of regular reading... and we can move them to choose increasingly complex, literary texts." I want them to start to read again since some of my students admit to never reading a book in its entirety throughout high school.  That's a problem we can fix!

As my students engage in independent reading, I'm going to use activities such as novel data sheets (see below), Literary Tic-Tac-Toe Cards, book talks, and literary elements mini-flip books. These activities will help students analyze the books they are reading, and later they will take this information to use when they do speed-dating novel reviews and book tube vlogs. This is something I'm working on, and I haven't fully implemented into my
classroom yet, but I'm excited about getting students excited about reading again. It's been awhile...

Keep on stressin’ on,

Michon Otuafi

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