Thursday, January 14, 2016

11 Simple Ideas to Promote Reading No Matter What You Teach

You probably agree reading is one of the most important skills your students need to be successful. Since it is so important, there should be expectations for teachers across all subjects to promote and teach reading within their discipline.

But most content-area teachers don't have much background in reading instruction. They may not know where to start. While most teachers ask students to read materials for their class, they may not have strategies to support growing readers.

But even if you haven't had formal training related to reading strategies, you can still promote the love of reading in your classroom. The best thing you can do to improve reading is to to inspire more reading. When every teacher promotes reading, it makes an incredible impact on the learning culture of the school.

Here are 11 simple ideas to promote reading, no matter what you teach. This list isn't meant to be comprehensive. These ideas are just basic things anyone can do, even without training in reading instruction.
1. Share what you are reading with your students. It doesn't matter if you are reading professional materials, online articles, or your favorite fiction author. Talk to your students about what you are reading and let them know reading is something that you enjoy and that it is helpful to you.

2. Ask your students what they are reading. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn what your students like to read. What authors do they enjoy? What genres? When we take an interest in the reading lives of our students, it provides another way to connect and build a relationship. And, it also reinforces their identity as a reader.

3. Post a list in your classroom of books you want to read next. It's so simple to post a list of what you plan to read. And the more teachers who do this, the more variety of titles students will encounter each day. Your book interests might just be the spark a reluctant reader needs to get started.

4. Recommend a book or an author to a student. It's great to make reading suggestions to students. Again, it show the value that you place on reading. Even better, when you know your students interests well enough, you are able to make suggestions that are tailored to their individual preferences.

5. Allow students to choose what they read. When students feel they have little choice in what they read, it can kill the desire to read. Every class has material that is required reading, but allowing students to make some choices can be very helpful. Even if there is a certain topic that is important to your classroom goals, it's still possible to give students reading choices related to the topic.

6. Create a classroom library. Several teachers in our school have recently established or expanded classroom libraries. A classroom library is a selection of books readily available for students to check-out and read. It gets books closer to the life of your students and classroom. You can ask for donations to start your library, or ask your school librarian to loan books from the school collection to be used in your class. 

7. Let students see you reading. Find time in your class to read in front of your students. It could be reading something related to your class, or it could be reading for the sake of reading. When students see you reading it sends a powerful message.

8. Have your students read regularly in class. All too often subject-area teachers are presenting content using outlines, study guides, and handouts that minimize the need for students to read. Ask your students to read regularly in class. Have them read with a pencil in hand to take notes and process information.

9. Do a book talk with your students. Talk to your students about a book you have read. It's a great way to reveal a little more of your personality and promote reading at the same time. A book talk includes a synopsis of the book describing some of the key elements and explaining what you liked or didn't like about the book.

10. Celebrate reading in your classroom. We strengthen values in our culture by what we celebrate. We can celebrate reading by talking about it, modeling it, and supporting it. Tangible rewards are not helpful to build independent readers. But class goals and celebrations can support a culture of reading. 

11. Share your reading goals with your students. What are your reading goals? Do you have a specific number of books you would like to read this year? It's great to set a goal and share it with your students. Maybe they will set a goal too. As they follow your progress and cheer you along, they will be more likely to choose reading for themselves.

Question: What other ways do you promote reading to your students? Share a comment below or on Twitter or Facebook.

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