By Shannon Horton
More and more I notice students looking and finding an “easy button” when it comes to independent reading. They choose graphic novels because the pictures help them enter the story quickly, they choose realistic fiction about characters and places that are familiar to them, and they often pick up books they’ve read before. That’s not all bad, don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of graphic novels, books that reflect my own life, and even books written well below my abilities, BUT I also push myself from time to time and reap enormous benefits.
What methods have you found to push students in a direction that will get them out of their reading comfort zone? Here are a few ideas to get us started:
Read a chapter, or a few chapters, to hook students and help them with the work of getting into a book. List the books in your classroom or on Canvas for student reference. (So many of you have done this as teachers, and I’ve seen the positive results in the library.)
Make reading social. How can students talk about and recommend books to other students? This is satisfying for readers and can also hook new readers on books they wouldn’t naturally pick up. Could students be given a choice in how to share the books they love with their classmates? In Canvas start a discussion so that students can add books they recommend by attaching files, such as a picture with their book or a short video.
Self-selected, independent reading is key to developing readers. Give them choice! Praise and show interest in their choices! Let them be “lazy” and read something below their abilities. And, every now and again, find creative ways to push them.
P.S. If you want one of the posters that outlines the reading challenge, just let me know. I see it as a great way to advertise on your door how you’ve accepted the challenge yourself or to post in your room for students. I made it using http://www.canva.com/, my favorite tool for making posters and signs.
By: Liz Fox
During his keynote address, Trevor described the challenges of a jungle tiger vs a zoo tiger, and I immediately saw how applicable this was to our students. He describes this in a fascinating video. I plan to show at least this section to my students within the first few days of school.
Trevor referred often to the work of Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, who used decades of research on achievement and success while writing her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
He outlined the difference between a fixed mindset (avoiding challenges, not wanting to look bad, “I’m not good at math”) and a growth mindset (“I’m not good – yet.” “ I can learn – bring on the challenge. “)
The brain is like a muscle. Neuroscience shows that just when students want to give up is the window of opportunity where the brain is most malleable – brains are built to learn when stretched.
Good learning is not pretty. However, encouraging students to believe in their capacity and to embrace the difficult, they will learn. Trevor says, “Seek out the ugly; in the struggle will be growth.”
Next up: more on Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
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