Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Reading Requirements

Today I introduced the weekly reading log to my students. This document has been a staple of my English class since day one, September 7, 1993. I have required my students to read at least one hundred pages from a book (or books) of their choice 5 out of 7 nights a week from September until June for the last sixteen years. (Wow-- you know that's got to be way over a million pages.)

Back when I started, I knew I wanted them to read because reading is a skill that improves with practice, but if I thought of myself as a coach, I was definitely in the drill-Sargent-inspired, you-WILL-read category, and woe to those students who crossed me, mm mm mm. And woe to me, too, as it turned out, because some of those kids gave me a run for the money. Imagine not appreciating being forced to read.

These days, I'm a kinder, gentler literacy coach, and honest conversation is my motivator of choice. I told one class today that if they weren't reading, I wouldn't yell at them, but we would definitely have to have a conversation about it. "I'm going to ask you some questions, figure out what's going on, recommend some books, help get you back on track," I said.

"Yeah," I heard one boy whisper to another. "I think I'll just go ahead and read."

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