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Flexible Sustained Silent Reading

February 23, 2005

I find that in class reading time spent listening to an audio book is excellent. I offer my students the option of reading silently or listening to the book. Often, students find reading aloud to each other helpful. The key is flexibility on your part. First, when I give students the time to read in class (without my prodding about meaning and symbolism and such) I let them sit anywhere in the room (at their desk, on the floor, in the hallway, wherever they feel comfortable). Second, I give them the option of reading to each other or listening to the audio version. If you have a separate space to put your tape listening bunch, it's helpful because the silent readers really like it silent. Any read-to-each-other students go to the hallway. I give them their assignments in packet form (the whole book mapped out day by day). It's usually more than they can read in class, but I have given them the chance to start the assignment with my assistance readily and unobtrusively available. Then whatever they don't finish in class is to be finished for homework. I always give a few guided reading questions to help them get the main idea and flavor of the chapter(s). I remind them that I expect everyone to be reading and expect them to ask me questions about anything as they are reading. Surprisingly, this takes about the same amount of time as assigning the book for homework, and you have the perk of seeing them read or seeing them have difficulty and can step in to help them. When I taught middle school, my 7th graders finished reading Twain's Tom Sawyer in 10 class days (45 min. class periods). After they have read the whole book, then we have fun with all the ins and outs of the book and the author. You'll love the results. Give it a try!


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