It’s Really Go Time Now

Posted on September 27, 2011Filed Under KBAR, Reading | 10 Comments

I was working on a post about a book every teacher should read. It’s called Nurture Shock, and I will finish the post about it later. We have a bigger issue to deal with here right now.  Over yonder in the comments sections, Mr. M appears to have a rather pesky coworker, and he’s also looking for a little help in the independent reading program department.

First of all… O. M. G. I can see why you have “disagreements” with this person. She is obviously insane. She should seek out a mental health professional at once.

A 140 page per week quota? What is this, a sweatshop? Do the kids earn piecework for every book and notecard they churn out? Your word exorbitant is not even sufficient to describe this. What does she do with the notecards? How does she prevent lying–both parental and student? (That book I mentioned says that 97% of adolescents lie to their parents about 3/4 of their real life activities.)  Is it tied to what she does in class, or is it there just because she’s supposed to have an independent reading program, and of course “mine has to be ‘rigorous’ because I don’t want any slacking”? WHAT IS THE POINT?

If you wanted to turn kids off of reading, and make it a chore, she sure has figured out one way.

I guess you won’t be inviting her to join our little party here…

Second, stop counting pages. Make them read for a specific number of minutes and make them record their progress and make them have a parent sign the log to enforce a little home supervision. You might use a form something like this. That way you can also tell how fast they read, which is a great indicator of reading comprehension.

Third, I have one word for you. Well, it’s not really a word, but I use it like one in my classroom.


Go ahead, follow the link. Read up. I have to go to bed right now, so I’ll be back tomorrow to further explain the wonders of KBAR and how easy it is to get the kids to do all the work.

Meanwhile, I’m sure that some of my loyal readers also have some sort of independent reading program they could lay on Mr. M, so he has some other ideas to choose from.

See you tomorrow.


10 Responses to “It’s Really Go Time Now”

  1. Mrs. M~ on September 28th, 2011 8:15 am

    Oh my goodness. I am in shock reading the comments from my not-husband Mr. M. 140 pages per week????? That is sheer insanity. I cannot believe that parents and students have not stormed the principal’s office in protest. Mr. M, you must speak up and intervene on behalf of all the students who are subjected to this. Mr. C is right–there is no quicker way to turn kids OFF to reading than requiring such an unrealistic amount.

    In our school we have tried every variation of “required free reading” imaginable . . . calendars, pages, minutes, days, etc. Nothing really worked and only created problems with both students and parents lying about the reading that was being done. A few of years ago we decided to try doing monthly free reading books outside of class. There are no requirements for reading a certain book, a certain amount of time, certain pages, etc. The students simply choose any free reading book they want, and they get it read by the end of each month. We then do various projects about the books to have some accountability. The projects are never huge, but they are big enough to ensure the kids actually are reading. The kids also keep running charts of all the books they read in 7th and 8th grade, then we pass those on to the high school.

    Since we implemented this, we have seen huge success. The kids read more than they ever did, and we do not have to mess with “grading” their daily or weekly reading, which never worked for us anyway. The kids actually enjoy the reading instead of seeing it as homework or another assignment for reading class.

    Good luck, Mr. M–battle on!!!!

  2. Mrs. M~ on September 28th, 2011 10:49 am

    P.S. I highly, highly recommend the book ‘Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It’ by Kelly Gallagher for anyone who teaches Reading/LA/English. It will really make you think!

  3. mrC on September 28th, 2011 7:44 pm

    @ Mrs. M.: I already bought it for my NookColor. Tip o’ the hat to Mrs. M. Thanks! Just started, and I’m already impressed. Also, I Like your school’s concept. I might adapt/mutate some of it into KBAR. A second tip o’ the hat!
    @ MR. M: What she (Mrs. M.) said! Storm the principal’s office! How long has this atrocity been going on? Those poor kids. And eighth graders too! The ones probably most likely to stop reading because “it’s boring.” I can’t even cope. Where do you teach? Maybe I could do an intervention.

  4. Mr. M on September 29th, 2011 6:22 am

    This teacher was moved from 5th grade to 8th grade 2 years ago and has brought a lot of her ideas with her. She is a teacher who is very stuck on her ideas and does not give.

    I am a teacher in southern Illinois and I appreciate all of the feedback and advice!

  5. mrC on September 29th, 2011 8:46 pm

    Those poor 5th graders. That’s even worse than torturing 8th graders (and a lot less fun). Again I say, Think of the children! Maybe find a disgruntled parent or two to complain to the principal and get the ball rolling. And go get that book Mrs. M recommended, Readicide. Buy an extra copy for your principal so (s)he understands. I was going to say to buy one for that “teacher,” but I know she wouldn’t read it.

    My mom grew up in Robinson, Illinois; home of the Heath Bar. I remember visiting my grandparents there and going to Olney and some other tiny towns to visit various relatives. This was in the early ’70s.

    Thanks for fighting the good fight.

  6. Christine (Mrs. B.) on September 30th, 2011 3:30 am

    That teacher needs to be placed in a mental institution. How did she even come up with that number? Why not 100? 50? 300? What if the book is less than 140 pages?

    Uh. She makes me sick. I’d probably never be a lit teacher if I had her as one growing up.

  7. Heather on September 30th, 2011 5:35 am

    I recommend the book THE BOOK WHISPERER by Donalyn Miller to anyone who is struggling with implementing independent reading and make it work! I have combined her approach to NOT requiring page numbers or a certain amount of time, with KBAR-style prompts (many stolen from you, Mr. Coward!) to scaffold the kids who can’t think of anything to write about in their notebooks. If I see that kids don’t have much to write about we conference about finding a book that is a better fit. Requirements never made anyone love reading.

  8. Mr. M on September 30th, 2011 7:08 pm

    @Heather: Your post made me chuckle, because I have read THE BOOK WHISPERER and enjoyed it and learned quite a bit from it. BUT, when my administrator met with the other teacher, she kept saying that she attended a workshop that Donalyn Miller put on and that the workshop is where she got the idea for the 140 pages. When I heard that, I was clearly baffled. I just ordered Readicide and am trying to get as much evidence that Mrs. D’s 140 page requirement is absurd.

  9. Mrs. M on October 1st, 2011 8:13 am

    @Mr. M–once you get started on Readicide, email Kelly Gallaghar and tell him what is going on. He will reply to you and give you some good info to share with your principal and the other teacher. Maybe words from an “expert” will sway them. Like we are not all experts! 🙂 You should email Donalyn Miller too; she would probably come unglued and call that other teacher personally!

  10. mrC on October 1st, 2011 11:50 pm

    This is fun! A long-range cyber-intervention! Mrs. M, you are money! Mr. M, go kick some butts and take some names.
    @Joan: Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you’re getting good results. KBAR is one of the cornerstones of my class, especially the first 6-8 weeks. The key is to let them choose the book, and help them find books they will want to read every night. I have given away so many books to jumpstart KBAR reading…”Here, read this. I know you’ll like it.” And then, when you read the responses you chat with them immediately about the response…more on KBAR tomorrow. And, full disclosure about one of the videos: the kid getting saved by Zeus in the bullying video is my boy.
    @Heather: I just finished Readicide, so Book Whisperer is now next on my list.

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