This is capturing a recent email conversation I had with the school my grandson attends. I found out they were having students read from any book they chose three times a week and during the school hours. Nicky is an at risk student so I assumed life skills training duties in February. Our goal is to go from all F’s to C’s & D’s this year. Right now we are at 2 C’s, 1 D, and 2 F’s. I bolded the text below as an indication of what I’m looking into next.
<teacher>, this is very frustrating to <us>. I didn’t realize the teachers were using student time to grade papers and such. We as a family talked about it last night in detail. We never did reading in school unless it was from a school text book and even then it was a group event with a student reading and questions being allowed.
Seems like a major waste of students’ time compared to using the time for structured learning. How times have changed.
From: Teacher, Copy: school official
You are misunderstanding the silent reading sessions a bit. I’m sorry if I didn’t explain it very well.
Silent Reading is a school-wide commitment to promoting reading. Teachers and students alike read during this time; no make-up work, no grading papers, no e-mail, no phone calls, no trips to the restroom. Just reading. Everyone in contact with students reads at that time. Even staff that does not have contact with students are encouraged to read. No instructional time is lost; this is time that is homeroom, so for three days they read, and two days are time for club meetings, ASB, student organizational work, students getting help with homework, etc.
I hope this clarifies the reading time a bit. If you have any questions about it, please feel free to call either myself or <school official>. Thanks.
Picture by Allie Proff – 2009
To: School Official Copy: Teacher
<school official>, back in the day the homeroom time was ten minutes and the club time was *after* school. Why do we take up dedicated school time with extended homeroom and club time? And then we use some of that time for reading by the student.
Don’t get me wrong, I luv reading and think is valuable. But there is precious little time in a school day for all the things a student needs help with. Nicky can’t tell me the capital of Washington state, the vice president’s name, or what the word maintenance means. But he has time to read on his own wherein he selects books about fighting and wars which he is intensely interested in. With coaching he will listen to conversations outside his areas of interest like music, Germany, politics. But not on his own time.
I would really like to understand this reading program.
From: school official
Here is some information about that time that may help understand some of its value.
Not all clubs are allowed to meet during this time on Tuesday and Thursday. The clubs that do meet do so only periodically and they must have a curricular connection or instructional value to them. For example, the Environmental Club may meet because of its link to environmental sciences but the “Games” club may not meet during this time.
Tuesday and Thursday homeroom time also serves as an academic support time or advisory time for students. Most schools have an advisory time in their schedules. Not all students have supportive home environments that value education. This time is critical for their success. Students get help from teachers, make up tests, gather notes and also complete homework during this time. This time is a total of forty minutes a week.
Our reading program encourages everyone to read during this time. Research shows that if students are allowed to select their own reading material, their reading productivity rises dramatically over prescribed reading assignments. Our goal is to promote the reading.
As students begin to identify their passion and fields of study for professional career options, they begin to sharpen their knowledge base and expertise through selecting their own reading. In the busy day of today’s students many may not encounter reading for fun and casual “mental imaginary vacations” except during this reading time. I firmly believe that most of our students do not read enough and that busy working parents often find themselves with a lack of energy to be the reading role model for our students.
I do agree with you that every instructional minute should “count”. It is critical that our teacher’s maximize their classroom time to truly teach each subject. Many students read texts or material that is required for their other classes during this time. I am always a bit surprised that student and parents do not utilize the before and afterschool time with teachers for assistance. The thirty minutes before and afterschool could benefit many.
Is this time perfectly supportive for all? Perhaps not, but in short, I believe that no time spent reading is counted as a loss and the forty minutes a week to support academics and a few selected clubs is important for many.
I appreciate the time you have taken to email us. I like your passion about this!
Sigh… does this make sense to anyone else? BTW, Nicky has observed that teachers routinely use this time to work on their grade books and grade papers.