Are your students reluctant to read during SSR time?
Level up silent reading routines with a Game of Quotes
How many of your students spend silent reading time selecting a book? When I was an elementary school teacher, there would always be the kids who walk back and forth from their table to the classroom library getting a book and then getting a different book. They spend the whole time choosing books, never finding anything that interests them, only to begin this routine again the next day. In middle school, this dance of avoidance looks a little different. I still have an extensive classroom library, but the reluctant readers don't spend as much time pacing back and forth between the library and their table; instead, middle school readers do what I call pretend reading. They have a book open, but they are staring at a friend across the room, playing a silent game of charades with facial gestures. They sleep, leaving a trail of drool across the page of my book. They have an open book on their table and a notebook on their lap under the table in which they are writing love letters or doing work for other classes.
This game of avoiding reading has become far more sophisticated. I don't want to play the role of reading police and force my students to read. With all of the pressure on teachers to "cover" so much material in a short amount of time, I already feel this weird teacher guilt when the principal walks in my room and kids are silently reading. You feel like you got caught doing something wrong because you are using precious minutes of instructional time for silent reading. It's not that my principal has ever made a comment that made me feel this way- this is why I refer to it as "weird" teacher guilt. I'm not exactly sure where it comes from. When you struggle with teacher guilt, and the kids aren't even reading anyways do you just stop making time for silent reading?
I'm not micromanaging their reading time. They can choose any book they want. I don't have a box of books restricting students to a specific reading level. My library is extensive and updated at least once a month. When I order from Scholastic, I ask the students what books they want and order those books. I don't make them take quizzes to prove to me that they are reading. I read the books, and do a book talk every week to get students hyped up about something they may not have seen in the classroom library. I take them to the school library to check out books. I explicitly teach how to choose a book by examining the different elements of a book (the title, the summary, the reviews, etc.). What else can I do to motivate my students to read?
The idea came to me in a comic book store. They had a game aisle in this store, and I came across this card game called BYOB (Bring Your Own Book). I highly recommend this game! It is hilarious. I bought it, took it home, and immediately went to work trying to adapt it for the classroom. I thought this game could be a fun way to get students eyes on text. How can I make this work in the classroom?
I created a presentation in Google slides with a couple of prompts. I used animations so that the students wouldn't see the prompt until it was time, and silent reading instantly became a fun game! The room was filled with laughing, and page turning, and whispers of "I want to read that!" When was the last time a reading log or an online quiz caused a stir of echoes in the classroom?
It looked like this:
Students quickly learn that if they don't read during silent reading time, it's harder to find a quote for the prompt. When a prompt is revealed, a student who has been reading their book remembers a part of the book that they had read and can quickly go to that chapter or section to find a good quote.
When a student is winning several rounds with well chosen quotes, other students become interested in reading that book too. I think I am the one who is really winning this game though, because not only are my students reading, but they are also getting their classmates interested in new books!
You can get ideas for prompts from the BYOB game. It's about $15.00 on Amazon. I'd also recommend having your students submit their own ideas for prompts. This will lead to prompts that are more identifiable to this age group and give them more ownership of the activity because they're creating the game themselves.
If you belong to a book club, try bringing it to your next gathering. What a great way to add a little fun to your book club meetings! As you can see below, this game is fun for adults too.
If you've got an idea for a Game of Quotes prompt or for a different way to get students engaged during SSR I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.
I am an English teacher, Curriculum Designer, and Instructional Coach that is passionate about literature.
In each post I will offer a review of a young adult novel and suggestions for text pairings. These posts will often include links to digital resources for teaching the content referenced in the post, as well as digital lessons (I use Google Docs) which you can download for free. Subscribe to my blog so that you can get an email notification when a new book is highlighted.