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Why Now Might Be the Time to Implement a Choice Reading Program
posted by: Melissa | May 05, 2020, 09:14 PM   

Coronavirus has seemingly turned the world on its head and has upended much that we’ve traditionally taken for granted about teaching. No longer do we see our students every day. There are no classroom routines or structures to help students manage their time or keep them on task. There’s little we can offer by way of rewards for those students who are diligently doing their work.


However, for all the upheaval that the current situation has caused, it has also brought opportunities. Districts, administrators, and teachers are easing up on grading and curriculum requirements making now a perfect time to implement a unit or project that never quite fit in with what the standards required. It’s also a great time to introduce a choice reading program into your classroom.


Choice reading programs give students control over what they read, unconstrained by the need to read in a certain lexile range or take a computerized quiz for points. The only requirement in a program like this is that students read and that they read a lot. While educators may rightly be wary of giving up control and worry about lack of accountability, there’s strong research to support both independent reading and voluntary choice of reading material on the part of students.


During the school year, it may be hard to fit in long periods of time that students need to read, but now our students are home most of the day, without school or extracurriculars to fill their hours. They may not be able to physically travel, but it just happens to be the perfect time to literarily travel. This is a benefit for our students, since that same research shows the amount of time spent reading independently is positively correlated with academic performance.


The goal then, for educators, is to get students reading and to keep them reading. One of the best ways to do that is to induct our students into a culture of enthusiastic readers, which just happens to be what a good choice reading program does so well.


Students need a way to connect and something to connect over other than the virus that’s disrupted their lives. Giving students a way to both escape and to bond with others, literature is the perfect anidote to the quarantined life.


If you’re interested in introducing such a program into your curriculum, you can learn more about student choice literature programs in books like The Book Whisperer, Reading in the Wild, Book Love, and Readicide.

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