Independent, silent reading is the cornerstone of my classroom. Students in my class read independently for at least twenty minutes a day, every day. I allow students to choose books to read during this time, and the students enjoy being given the time to read material suited to their interests. I do not require traditional book reports or end of book tests, those place unnecessary burden on the students. To be frank, those take away from the pleasure of reading. Many teachers have students complete complicated reading logs at the end of each chapter. This is not a natural reading pattern. As adults we do not stop at the end of every chapter and answer the review questions before moving on. If this were what “real” reading was like, nobody would do it. My goal in teaching is to foster a love of reading and help cultivate readers who are competent.
Therefore, the method I developed in my classroom is different. The following pages are provided to students for each book that they read independently. I even use this packet when students read in small groups, or when we read a whole group novel. I found that because students were familiar with the structure, they were able to think ahead and analyze more effectively as they read as a class and the discussions we had were richer. I no longer buy individualized, prefabricated novel units for each new novel we read. The method of novel exploration provided eliminates the need for that. This is also individualized for students with various reading levels. This packet is easily modified for struggling readers at the middle school level to high school students who are reading far above high school level material. Ideally each student would get a copy of the packet at the beginning of their novel, but if you come from a school with limited printing budgets you could make a class set of the material and have students write on their own paper and copy the charts. I had to do that one year when I used up my printing budget and was exiled from the copy room. I made a class set and placed the pages in sheet protectors and then bound them in ten cent folders. The kids laughed at my efficiency (and my exile from the copy room) but they embraced copying their packets just as easily as they had when they were writing on the photocopies.
I created this unit in response to my disillusionment with traditional reading response methods, as well as in response to pressure from our state and local administration that learning acquired during silent sustained reading be more measurable. I also needed to incorporate more writing into my curriculum to accommodate the new Common Core Standards. Basically, I needed to hold my students accountable so that I could then be held accountable to my administrators.
After sharing this method with numerous teachers in my district, I decided to offer this method to teachers on a broader scale in the hopes that more students will benefit from the process.
This book includes: the actual material to be given to students, the academic rationale behind the unit, and the common core standards that are covered (broken down by activity).
I sincerely hope that you and your students enjoy the material,