Thursday, October 9, 2014

Luxuries for Readers Needing Support: Independent Reading Time

Walking into the classroom to support readers, I glance around to find the students I support in a small group reading a book with their teacher.  Research has demonstrated that one of the most important pieces for readers needing support is strong classroom instruction so this time with their teacher is important.  While I wait, I begin to walk around the room to talk with students I have on a list to watch as well as other students working in the classroom.  Soon the readers I came to see leave their group and, because I am on a schedule, I use my remaining time to have them work with me.  Of course, because they've worked with both of us, they have little time left for other reading today.

The teacher and I talk after school about this continuous dance between reading support and classroom instruction to make it work so we can both work with students to help them catch up to peers.  I love these conversations.  I'm always amazed by the willingness of teachers, whose plates are so full, to grapple with these big questions and find solutions.  We both want to make the best use of student time and both understand the need to make quick shifts with these learners.

We both also worry about independent reading.  We know these students need time to read independently as much, if not more, than their peers.  Structured independent reading times give readers opportunity to:  
  • read continuous text
  • develop a reading niche
  • connect with peer readers
  • practice new strategies and understandings
  • build reading stamina 
  • to fall in love with books  (this should be first)
In this particular classroom, students have time immediately after lunch before they go to special to read.  This twenty minute block brings us some peace of mind, but we continually talk and adjust to make the most of the time students have available.  

The need to provide quality independent reading time to readers needing to make gains is a continual challenge.  The solutions are not always obvious or easy.  Additionally, what works in one classroom or with one student does not always work in other cases.  We push ourselves to keep an open mind, remain flexible, and continually adjust.  Ultimately, we need to see growth in readers and keep a close eye on forward momentum.  Independent reading is a luxury developing readers need to enjoy.  

I'd love to hear from you.  How do you make time to meet with readers receiving intervention and carve out time for student independent reading?  


  1. This is so timely for me Cathy. This year I am working with a special ed teacher. Initially we thought only pushing in would be an exceptional model, but we are finding that a balance needs to be found. She is also amazed by how much certain kids are pulled from the room. It's hard to know what will work best, pulling kids for added support or keeping continuity of learning by letting kids stay in the classroom for all of their learning. I am also always on the fence about group reading vs independent reading. There are so many low kids who need to spend time reading books on their own but we can't meet with them at more convenient times and so read to self becomes the first thing dropped. These same kids often tell me they just want to read to self. Circular problem.

  2. Today at the Literacy Connection event, Jennifer shared an idea where intervention students do have independent reading during their intervention time. The session would start with teacher work/mini lesson and end with teacher work - 5 minutes either end and then independent reading. She also suggested using EN and conferring notes be shared in one place for the classroom teacher and intervention teacher or a reading folder with a conferring sheet and goal form in a traveling folder.