December 7, 2015
Celebrating Student Reading Engagement
- 9 out of every 10 students would feel happy about receiving a book for a present.
- Almost 9 out of every 10 students think the school library is a fun place to be.
- Almost 9 out of every 10 students can identify favorite books.
- Almost 9 out of every 10 students believe becoming a good reader is important.
Also worth celebrating were the results we found in how students perceive themselves as readers, referred to as self-concept of reading.
- 8 out of every 10 students feel good about reading.
- Reading is fun for almost 8 out of every 10 students.
- Almost 8 out of every 10 students like to read books independently.
Overall our student reading engagement results were 79%. This is high. I believe we see positive results because our students have access and choice in quality literature, plenty of time to read these books, and smart guidance by teachers during independent conferencing and guided reading time. We have a lot to celebrate.
Every school and every teacher has areas for improvement. The reading engagement data tells us that students do not view literacy out loud as positively. Literacy out loud activities include students sharing about they are reading with peers, giving book talks in class, and important conversations about literature in small groups, individually with the teacher, and as a whole class.
When comparing these lower reading engagement results with the tenets of engagement observed during my initial instructional walks, a pattern emerged. Student discussion is happening less frequently in classrooms, compared to other tenets such as authenticity, clarity of the lesson, and providing feedback. See the graph below. (Note: While the results are for grades K-2, similar results were observed in the student surveys in grades 3-5.)
We made a point on Friday on not making assumptions about this data. For example, Monica suggested that maybe students need to be informed that when they read their own writing to the class, that is a form of literacy out loud. Also, when looking at data we should not blame ourselves or others, but rather consider the system. Lisa Sonnenberg noted that because of all the accountability on schools today, it is a challenge to integrate these strategies. Lack of time is also a reasonable factor for the lack of student conversations. Reading about instructional trends at the national level. these results are not uncommon.
In the Danielson Framework for Teaching, one of the components is "Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques" (3b). Here are the critical attributes at the proficient level (3) on the rubric:
• The teacher uses open-ended questions, inviting students to think and/or offer multiple possible answers.
• The teacher makes effective use of wait time.
• Discussions enable students to talk to one another without ongoing mediation by the teacher.
• The teacher calls on most students, even those who don’t initially volunteer.
• Many students actively engage in the discussion.
• The teacher asks students to justify their reasoning, and most students attempt to do so.
What we can do right now is a) celebrate how well our students perceive reading and themselves as readers, and b) take this data as information to reflect on and consider the possibilities. What you shouldn't do right now is try to implement a bunch of questioning and student discussion techniques at one time. The other excellent teaching strategies you use might get pushed out. Also, when I show up for one of my instructional walks, don't drop everything you are doing and have an impromptu literature conversation. Instructional Leadership Team and I will talk about next steps on Tuesday, December 15. I'm really happy to see what we are doing well and where we could grow further as a community of learners and professionals.
Michelle Steffes had her students record themselves reading their original stories using Explain Everything and an iPad. Before they could publish them to YouTube, students had to listen to themselves reading and decide if it was good enough. This is where technology can be necessary, increasing reflection and self-assessment. Michelle posted links to their work in FreshGrade.
Parent Carnival Meeting
If you remember, remind families through students or online communications about the parent meeting for carnival tonight. We have to have enough volunteers for it to run in the spring. I sent out a Skylert message with this information on Friday.
As I mentioned at our staff meeting, I wrote a book about thoughtful uses of classroom technology for ASCD. A number of teachers at Howe were profiled in this text. My author copies should be here tomorrow. My family and I are having a small celebration at my house on Saturday evening. If you would like to stop by and join us, email me. No expectations - only an offer (plus free food & refreshments :-).