07 July 2007

SSR and Accountability

I just read Steve Gardiner, Building Student Literacy Through Sustained Silent Reading and I agree that a book report is not the best means to hold a student accountable for SSR (sustained, silent reading). Students are too apt to just grab the text off the back of the book or to copy a blurb from Amazon -- the latter method is perhaps the most efficient for the student who is unwilling to read the book, just cut and paste! Oral reports take too much time, if they are made a regular part of the class routine, and have as much effect. Gardiner suggests book talks (discussions) three times a semester in addition to a reading record submitted at the end of each grading period. The reading records are scored on the basis to two things: one half of the score is a subjective evaluation of whether the student read an appropriate number of pages in the period for a student at his level. The other is a measure of the student's behavior during SSR. Students are penalized a set number of points each time they are disciplined during the grading period. These two scores, one for pages read and one for behavior during SSR, are weighted as test scores, and if students simply apply themselves during SSR they will score well.

Given Gardiner's extensive use of SSR, this seems to be a solid means of holding students accountable for their reading, especially since he strongly recommends that students be allowed to choose their reading (within limits, of course, developed and set by each individual teacher). Tests and book reports, in my experience, have never really motivated students to read when they didn't want to read. By setting an example and giving the students more control, Gardiner has succeeded in motivating students to read and to become lifelong readers.

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-- Update -- I have a Reading Record form for reporting the materials read for sustained silent reading (SSR).


"Ms. Cornelius" said...

Very interesting post!

I was once in a school that was going to make a grand, sweeping commitment to SSR. EVERYONE in the school was going to read during advisement time of Tuesdays and Thursday-- principals, secretaries, everyone.

Then the principals realized this was a good time to try to catch up on referrals. The phones would still ring. The teachers were asked to complete paperwork. And it fell apart.

Unfortunately, if we want kids to read, WE have to provide them with time to do it in the early and middle and even upper grades. And we need to be serious about it.

welcome to the Carnival of Education!

Ryan said...

Agreed, Ms. C. During SSR my 1st graders might not be getting all the context that they could out of the book they're interacting with, but by golly they're enjoying a book, and isn't that what it's all about?

I've also used SSR time to work with my kids who need it. It's a great chance for small group or 1-on-1, and there's more than a little value to that.

Ms. Q said...

While my high schoolers fought me tooth and nail about implementing SSR daily into their work day, their reading scores and abilities soared! I didn't have them do anything but read and write an annotated bibliography entry for each book read. The AB entry could NOT be just a summary--they had to make connections and relate it to something else they had read, seen, or participated in. When the kids saw how their AR levels had risen--most by at least two levels-many by three or more!--they decided it had been worth it and I really had been telling them the truth when I said all they needed to do to get better at reading was to read more!

Welcome to the Carnival and can't wait to read more!

vivek said...

Welcome new blogger!

Fantastic post- simple and cuts into the heart of this tricky matter. We implemented DEAR at school - Drop Everything And Read.

First it was tough. Then, in a moment of inspiration, we decided to allow kids to pick their own books. Teacher made piles of 'level appropriate' books and kids were directed to their pile from where they could pick any book they wanted.

It had an impact. Kids wanted to read, so they read. Scores went up.
I recommend it highly!

(btw I'm off blogger, now over at theredpencil.wordpress.com)

Books to Consider!