By Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist
As a child, I loved the Harry Potter series. Nightly, I would stay up late past my bedtime, trying to remain as quiet as possible, while finishing one more chapter. However, my interest in the series waned around middle school (middle school is a strange time). Then this past December, I decided to finish the entire series once and for all. I started with the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Five pages in, I was hooked and finished the book in three days. Now I was staying up late once again, trying to finish just one more chapter. I had forgotten the pure joy that a great book brings while curled up under the covers with a cup of green tea.
Reading is magical. Not only because of the joy it brings, but because reading has the power to prepare students for college, career, and life success. A story, news article, or book can provide endless entertainment and improve a student’s literacy skills. Talk about a two for one! Engaging students in accountable reading practice and encouraging growth is difficult, but by setting personalized goals, providing immediate feedback, highlighting progress on those goals, and allowing students to self-select books can turn the tide and foster healthy student growth.
Just like my goal to finish one more chapter before bed when reading Harry Potter, personalized reading goals encourage a growth mindset. Students in a classroom may be at different reading levels, but by personalizing reading goals, each student’s goals are unique to them, speak to their reading level, and provide a challenge. Realistic and attainable goals challenge students and naturally motivate them. This leads to students reading more books with higher levels of text complexity as they become proficient readers.
Have you ever been unsure of how you performed in something, so you would sit there nervously waiting, assuming the worst? Quick, immediate feedback eliminates that worry. Students instantly know how they are performing on reading quizzes and become aware of their reading strengths. Any obstacles or roadblocks students encounter are easily identified before they become troublesome, keeping students on track toward their reading goals.
Visuals reinforce progress. Think of when someone starts working out, they often give up shortly after starting because they don’t notice any progress. However, if they continue and don’t give up, they’ll eventually see progress and be motivated to continue working out. The same applies to students working toward their reading goals. By knowing how they’re doing on their reading goals, students stay motivated and continually improve.
One of my favorite things about reading is going to the library, physically picking up a book, reading the first page, and deciding if I want to read it. Allowing students to self-select their own books gives them a sense of control over their education. I can remember as a child walking straight to the sports section during our weekly class trips to the library because that’s what I was interested in. I looked forward to our next trip. Students discover interests, passions, and develop a love for reading by choosing their own books and authentic literature.
Of course, reading has much more of an impact than simply preparing students for college, career, and life. It exercises the imagination, improves social skills, and encourages us to be active citizens in our communities. When I’m asked what my favorite Harry Potter book is, I’m often torn. I love the earlier books because of the detail in which Hogwarts is described, but I also love the latter because of the emotion and life-changing events Harry experiences. Each book has gradually shaped me into who I am. Reading is a truly magical thing and we can only hope to implement accountable reading practice with students, so they become life-long readers and get to experience the pure joy that stems from a great story.
What do you do to encourage accountable reading practice in your classroom? Is there a certain series or topic that your students particularly enjoy? Let us know in the comments!
Interested in additional insight about practice? Check out our reading resources page!