Ten Steps to
University City, Missouri
When people visit my first-grade classroom during guided reading,they see a room filled with children absorbed in their own books. There are no literacy centers, no puzzles, no other activities but reading. Children are sitting with me at the reading table, others are in the classroom library, some are working on the computer, some are at their desk, and all are completely absorbed in the task at hand: reading. After about a half hour to an hour of observation, the visitor looks around and notices that the students are still reading and are still engaged in the task. The question they always ask is, “How do you make them read for so long?” Some teachers say that their kids would never do it. They ask me where I got these kids. Others ask me what the reward is or what the reward is or what the punishment is for noncompliance. What do I do to them to make them read? There is no reward, no consequence. The truth is, I don’t make them read. What I do is remove every possible, preventable obstacle to reading. I approach reading in first grade with one goal in mind: fearless, fluent readers. I anticipate distractions and remove them. I create an environment where they can read and give them the time and tools to become fearless, fluent readers. Every instructional or aesthetic decision I make in my classroom is enacted in light of that one lofty goal.
Learning to read and then being able to read anything is intrinsically rewarding. They don’t come into the classroom reading independently for extended times. What has to happen in order for this to work? How do I teach them to love to read? There is no other incentive: reading is its own reward. It feels good to be a successful reader. But there has to be a trick, right? Of course there is. Actually, there are ten.
Learning to read and then being able to read anything is intrinsically rewarding. They don’t come into the classroom reading...