Self Directed Reading (FVR) observations

Today students turned in Self Directed Reading Log sheets with 22 reading sessions logged.  We started the semester reading for 5 minutes twice a week.  We are now reading for 8 minute sessions.  I’m happy with the progress and overall students are progressing and demonstrating what they are understanding.  Here are a few observations from this semester.

  • Reading in Latin to understand Latin without translating is difficult and I am in year 13 of reading Latin!  I’m not 100% sure where I might fall on the reading proficiency scales at this point, but I have made huge gains in the last 2 years since I started teaching with comprehensible input as the focus.  But I find reading anything above level E in my system is difficult for me to read from Latin without attempting to translate.  Think about what that means for students?  An AP student, who has been reading both the actual Vergil text and the tiered readings from operation lapis, picked up the Perseus et Medusa text by Andrew Olimpi and exclaimed “Hey, I can read this!”  In my view that is a big win considering my own struggles above that level.
  • There are so many distractions from my day that affect how much I’m processing.  If an activity didn’t go well the previous class period, it takes me a minute to shake that off during the reading time.  A recent important email or to do list clouds the imagery my mind is able to make.  I have to consciously bring myself into a place to read most sessions. Remember, I’ve been reading Latin at some level for 13 years.  The affective filter in students has to be extremely high, especially if they pick something above their level.  Not only is it okay for students to read titles in my level A and B groups, I need to encourage them to start there.
  • Most students are reading in Latin and the few who are not are reading textbooks in English about Latin or the ancient world.  There is quiet, no matter how chatty the class period is.  Even though a few students complain about reading, I think almost all of them cherish the quiet it brings to their day.  It brings a sense of calm to me in the middle of the hustle and bustle of an instructional week.  It sets the tone for me as an instructor.
  • Follow up activities that offer various ways for students to express what they are reading are key.  This is everything from student choice in creative expressions of stories to asking different ways for students to connect to their text to simply share out what they are reading.
  • Certain things from story lines show up in class stories and PQA.  Students who read the same stories have something in common which adds to community.

If you haven’t started your version of Free Volunteer Reading, plan to do it.  Start short.  5 minutes is plenty at first.  You will be setting the routine more than reading.  Build it up slowly and they won’t even realize they are reading more.  If you already have a program, what is working for you?

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