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Silent Sustained Reading as a Team Strategy

Silent Sustained Reading time should be a part of every team’s schedule! Everyone benefits when students have time to choose texts they wish to read, whether they be fiction, informational, print or digital!

  •  Providing time for students to read in school helps them develop the habit of reading for pleasure. Widely read students have more background knowledge than those who do not.  Marzano in Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement states “…the research literature supports one compelling fact: what students already know about the content is one of the strongest indicators of how well they learn new information relative to the content.(p.1)  Background knowledge correlates with academic achievement in all subjects, therefore it makes sense for a team to carve out time for silent sustained reading.
  • Reading leads to a wider vocabulary. A large written vocabulary is a huge indicator future academic success (Marzano).
  • Reading rate and fluency increase the more students read.  They need these skills to be well developed as they face more and more complex texts as they move up the grades.

Twenty minutes of independent reading three or four times a week is a fairly simple practice to implement. Robert Marzano in Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement summarizes the important characteristics of an effective SSR program:

  • Programs are continuous over several years.
  • Students have easy access to materials (classroom libraries, friendly well-staffed library).
  • Students are encouraged to read material that interests them.
  • The environment is relaxed and conducive to personal reading.
  • Students receive encouragement and positive feedback about the topics they choose to read about.
  • There is staff training that relates to the purpose and philosophy of SSR.
  • Students do not see SSR as just another class where they will be tested or have to show improvement.  SSR time needs to be non-threatening.
  • Students do need to interact with the text and with each other (sharing and discussing what they are reading).
  •  SSR needs to occur at least 2 times a week.

Team teachers need to model the behaviors and attitudes they wish to see in students: reading during SSR (not correcting papers!), sharing interesting books or articles or websites with students, and listening to students talk about their reading.

When researching SSR on the web, many sites pop up loaded with Thou Shall Not Do’s for students.  My suggestion is to create the feeling of a intellectually-fun book club atmosphere that includes using Web 2.0 tools for discussing what students are reading:

Team Androscoggin SSR Guidleines

Our SSR Motto: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss

  1. Choose texts that you are really interested in reading!  During SSR, we all will be totally engrossed in our self-selected text or sharing  something cool from our reading!
  2. When you want to share something with another reader, please be respectful of others who need it relatively quiet in order to concentrate.  Move to the conference area of the room and use soft voices.
  3. Use headphones when listening to an audio book.
  4. Do share with everyone a great “read”! Ask for a reader’ circle or post to our SSR wiki.  If it’s from the web, include the URL.
  5. Sometimes partner up with a pal and read the same text so you can talk about as you go along.  You might partner up with a favorite adult outside of school.
  6. If you finish with a book and are willing to allow others to borrow it, please leave it in the classroom library.
  7. Remember we all agreed at class meeting that everyone would either post to the wiki at least once a week or share out loud during Friday’s Reader’s Circle.
  8. Be brave and post a review online!

It is important that the team collaborate in the organization and management of SSR.  Students figure out very quickly which teachers are not committed to the program, and SSR will disintegrate pretty fast.

Below are some sites where students can either look for book reviews written by other students  or write their own and submit them for publication on the web.

URL’s for sharing book reviews

Be sure to check these sites yourself before sharing with students.

http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic87.htm   Lots of sites to find reviews & submit reviews

http://www.buildingrainbows.com/home.php Book reviews and discussions

http://flamingnet.com/  Young adult books reviewed by young adult readers

http://www.classicalcharter.com/ForKids/BookReviews.html  Book reviews from the students at Classical Charter School in Appleton, Wisconsin

If one Googles “student book reviews”  lots of possibilities come up, especially school websites full of student recommendations for good books

Resources for Teachers

Powerpoint of the basics of SSR: www.liberty.k12.mo.us/ms/LMC/SSR/SSR.ppt

Ideas for organizing & managing: http://www.smallschoolsproject.org/index.asp?siteloc=tool&section=sustain

SSR & the unmotivated reader: http://www.hotchalk.com/mydesk/index.php/component/content/article/148-language-arts-blog-by-theresa-hinkle/849-ssr-and-the-unmotivated-reader

General overview: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr038.shtml

A must read on the research controversy: http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/whatsnu_nrp-ssr.html

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