Sarah Andersen is a high school teacher in Michigan who has done so many great reading-related projects with her students. She blogs at YA Love and stopped by to talk about the different methods she’s tried to grow her own reader’s advisory techniques. Be ready to be inspired.
secret to get kids reading?” My first reaction was, well, there is
no secret. It’s all about enthusiasm and engagement. If a teacher
is excited about reading and is actively reading what her students
are reading—and sharing that excitement with her students—then
that passion will be contagious. The students will want to read. At
least that’s been my experience. I’m naturally an energetic and
enthusiastic person and that really shines through when I’m in
front of my students talking about books. However, I take it beyond
just talking about books with my students.
students is by showing them book trailers. I know I’ve shown them a
good book trailer when students ask, “Is this going to be a
movie?!” The book trailers that get that reaction almost always
result in the book being borrowed. I start every school year by
showing a number of book trailers since they’re so quick and
effective. A few book trailers that really hooked my readers this
school year are for I
Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, Please
Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, The
5th Wave by Rick Yancey, and The
Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I also have a
blog feature called Book Trailer Thursday and I show the selected
book trailer in class each week. It’s become such a habit that if I
forget, my students don’t fail to remind me what day it is.
reading is by telling them what they’re banned from reading. I wish
there wasn’t a need for Banned Books Week, but it sure does pique
my students’ interest when I start telling them about censorship
and book talking banned books. Every year I put together a Banned
Books Week display in my classroom. Sometimes I’ll put books face
out with a note card explaining why they were banned, but I always
make time to book talk them. Once I tell them about the books and the
reason for censoring them, along with my opinion on the matter, many
of my students are itching to get out of their seats and check the
books out. Once I’m done there is usually a line by the display so
they can sample them, peruse them, and borrow them to read during
SSR. Reading these books and knowing the reasons why they’re
censored promotes rich discussion between me and my students.
year of teaching in a brand new district, so I really wanted to make
a strong first impression with my students not only as a teacher, but
as a reader as well. Usually on the second day of school I’ll set
up a book pass for my students. This involves me pulling a variety of
books from my shelves for my students to sample during the pass. My
students are usually given three or four minutes with a book and once
time is up they pass it to the right and start all over again. This
is a fast way for my students to sample books they may never usually
pick up on their own. This year I made sure to include student
favorites, “oldies but goodies,” a variety of genres, etc. I
always keep this in mind when preparing a book pass, but this year I
paid extra attention to the books I included. Apparently I did a
really good job picking books this year because almost half of every
class borrowed a book that day! I love book pass day because it gives
me an opportunity to see which books might be popular during the
school year since there are usually a few books wanted by more
students than I have copies available. I’ll hold another book pass
when I get back from NCTE/ALAN this November (to share my book haul)
and probably another in the spring. My students often request a book
pass later in the school year to help them find more books to read.
SSR, I’m reading with them. This not only models the behavior I’m
expecting from them, but it also gives them the opportunity to see
what I’m currently reading. I took this one step further when my
friend Jillian pinned a picture of her reading
life display. I jumped on this idea and created my own reading
life display on my classroom door. I made sure to start this school
year with a reading life display on my classroom door. I’ve already
heard students talking to each other about the amount of books I’ve
read. One student is apparently trying to compete with me! Last
school year I took my reading life display one step further and asked
my students if they’d like to create their own, but on their
lockers. More students than I expected were thrilled by this idea,
which I ended up calling “literacy
lockers.” My students gave me a list of books they had read so
I could print out the book covers for them to tape to their lockers.
The English hallway looked really cool with so many decorated
lockers. It also sparked a lot of discussion among the students
because they wanted to know about the different books they were
seeing, especially the ones they saw on multiple lockers. A couple
students, who weren’t in my class, took it upon themselves to
create their own literacy lockers. I’m really hoping my new
principal will allow me to do this since I’m confident my students
will want to create their own literacy lockers.
I’ve created a reading community in my classroom:
Read alouds. I’ve been reading
aloud to my high school students since my student teaching
experience. Some of the most positive read aloud experiences have
come from reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Boy21
by Matthew Quick, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, and Dairy
Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. I’m currently reading
Wonder by R.J. Palacio to my seniors and one class of sophomores.
Author visits. This isn’t always
easy to accomplish, but if you can find a way to connect your
students with an author you’re sure to have positive results. I’ve
been really fortunate in this area because of Twitter and my blog.
I’ve brought Lisa McMann and Ellen Hopkins to my school to speak
with students. I’ve also Skyped with authors like Laurie Halse
Anderson, Charles Benoit, Gae Polisner, and Geoff Herbach. After
each Skype session quite a few students wanted to read books by the
author. They’ve learned about writing, reading, and what it’s
like being an author.
Seating charts. A while back
Donalyn Miller tweeted about arranging her seating chart based on
students’ reading interests. I’ve started doing the same thing
(without telling them this) and have seen more book exchanges and
heard more book discussions than before.
Class library. I guess I’ve
assumed that teachers reading this have a classroom library, but I
know what they say about making assumptions…. A class library is
so important if you’re trying to create a community of readers.
help you get books in the hands of readers, but nothing trumps
reading the books your students are reading. Knowing my students and
their interests, plus having read the books in my classroom library,
results in a strong student/teacher rapport. There’s nothing quite
like reading a book and knowing exactly which student(s) I should
recommend it to when I finish. Even though I’m in a new district,
I’m still thinking about my former students while I’m reading.
Thank goodness for Twitter, otherwise it would be much more difficult
to share titles with those students.