I have read great books where I will lose track of time and before I know it a couple of hours has passed by. I will sneak in another chapter when I should be doing homework. I try to make and find time in my day to get another couple of minutes of reading a good book. Reading is so important to Donalyn Miller and she tries to create as much time in her classroom for her students to read their book. The saying “Do as I say not as I Do” is not in Miller’s agenda, when the students are reading she is also reading. She models the behavior she wants her students to achieve. “The more my students read, and grow into a community of readers, the more they want to read” (Miller 50). This is one of our many goals we should be striving for in our classrooms. Reading is one of the single literacy activities one can do in the classroom to get more positive growth and positive effect on the students’ comprehension, vocabulary and writing.
In a time where most schools have very rigid curriculum schedules, how can we make time for reading? On a regular class day teachers are bound to get interrupted by other personnel, phone calls, and parents. Miller recorded in a one week being interrupted enough to lose 40 minutes of instruction time. In a regular classroom, students see this as a great time to talk, catch up and basically get off task. In Miller’s classroom her students have been instructed and ingrained to take out their book and start reading. Using “bell ringer or warm-up” activities are those worksheets or board work that is designed to get students in their seats quiet and ready for the day. She starts off her morning with some independent reading instead. This is a time when everyone is reading, and has set strict rules where this is not the time to catch up on homework, e-mails, or cleaning out binders. Another time for some independent reading is when they are finished early with a task. Most classroom have these “fun folders” for the students who finish early but when looking at these types of activities usually what it contained was just “busy work”. Usually picture day is a madhouse, with teachers trying to get their students to line up quietly to take their picture and then to proceed to be quiet while waiting for everyone else to be done. This is a great time to have students bring their book and read.
There are probably more moments within the day that could be best utilized by allowing the students to read, we just have to look deeper and find them. I will end this post with, “by setting the expectation that reading is what we do, always, everywhere, it becomes the heart of a class’s culture” (58).