Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independent reading vs. independent reader

I am a big believer in setting up a schedule in your classroom that illuminates your beliefs and promises
From Google Images
for your students.  Crafting a schedule of your school day is difficult...there are variables you can control and then there are variables that are out of your control.  Writing down that language arts is from 1-3 pm is too vague...structures, beliefs, and promises of what happens during that time need to be marked out...on purpose...promised.

Independent reading is one of those times often listed in one's schedule for the day. I have always had a strong belief of what independent reading time should be:
  • enough time for students to become engaged (30ish minutes)
  • full of choice and just right books
  • teacher confers during this time to monitor comprehension, engagement, book choices to support goal setting
  • accountability- I use Status of the Class
  • no writing assignments, no completing other assignments...the only writing that does occur is when a student feels the need to write random jots of "while reading thinking" for future conversations
  • recommendations, sharing books, and creating next stacks take place before this time so time is not lost randomly searching for books, wandering through the library...the next book is always ready so eyes on print time is not wasted!
Then I started reading, Notice and Note by Beers and Probst.  These authors have challenged me to not just think about the independent reading time but actually define an independent READER.  What is an independent reader?  I had always lumped my definition with this time and reader together...thinking about them separately has stretched my thinking.  These quotes from page 6 have me rereading, thinking, and rereading again...

"Independent reading is the ability to read a text on one's own with deep engagement, with attention to what might sway the reader's judgement or acceptance one way or the other."

"Independent readers are not only able to read without depending on the teacher to help them make sense of the text, but also are able to stand independent of the text itself, choosing on their own, with evidence from the text to justify the decision to agree or disagree, to accept the author's vision and thinking or reject it."

Here are some other posts on structuring an independent reading time so the independent reader has time to be thoughtful.


  1. Your last quote is huge and deep. I also lumped together my definition of independent reading. Thanks again for stretching my thinking.

    1. You have to read this book! I can not put it down...they list their 6 signposts for thinking while reading and include bookmarks, graphic organizers, templates, sample lessons. This book is a must read!!! :)

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts:) You made me think about the structure of my time and setting aside more structure within my workshop. I just started this book. It's making me think a lot about kids as independent readers as well and their engagement and interactions with the text. I keep thinking about the role of talk and conversation with my readers...There were so many places my highlighter went over and I'm only less than halfway through!

    1. When we are both done reading we should compare your highlights to all of my post-its sticking out everywhere! :) Hope you blog about your thinking!

  3. I have this book in my stack of PD books to read. I have heard many positive things about it and your thoughts might just inspire me to move that to the top of the pile. I will check back and see if you have any more thoughts further down the road.

    1. If you do move it to the top of your pile...come back and leave your thoughts! Would love to know what sticks out or rings true while you read :)