Building Student Literacy through Sustained Silent Reading

Building Student Literacy through Sustained Silent Reading

Building Student Literacy through Sustained Silent Reading

Building Student Literacy through Sustained Silent Reading

Synopsis

Building Student Literacy Through Sustained Silent Reading offers a powerful solution for teachers who want to improve their students? reading ability: Let students choose what they read and give them the time to read it. For 27 years, high school teacher Steve Gardiner has used the sustained silent reading (SSR) program in his English classes to help students of all abilities and backgrounds improve their literacy. Gardiner writes with refreshing candor about his own experiences developing a sustained silent reading program. He demonstrates convincingly that giving students 15 minutes of uninterrupted reading time each day can help them discover their own abilities and develop enduring reading habits. Gardiner also explores SSR's effect on the various dimensions of literacy'reading and writing proficiency, vocabulary and spelling skills, and content comprehension'by summarizing current research and sharing feedback from teachers, students, and administrators. Finally, he demonstrates how teachers can adapt SSR for their classes? unique needs without interfering with mandated curriculum or lesson plans. In an environment where reading is an essential part of all subjects, Building Student Literacy Through Sustained Silent Reading shows how a simple and inexpensive program can not only help students achieve greater success in school, but give them a valuable gift: the joy of reading.

Excerpt

I didn't like high school English. Everything we read was chosen by the teacher. We read at a rate assigned by the teacher, discussed the parts selected by the teacher, and answered questions the way we thought the teacher wanted them answered. Consequently, I didn't enjoy reading and seldom finished assigned books, except one.

It was 1969 and the teacher let us choose any book we wanted to read. Advertisements for Mario Puzo's The Godfather bombarded me, so I chose that. Caught by the excitement and suspense, I read every single page, gave my book report, and scored the highest grade I had ever received in English class. I felt good.

The teacher, far too progressive for a rural midwestern town, resigned after his first year. I, along with other students, returned to teachers who assigned every book for the year. They were good books: Hawthorne, Melville, Thoreau, Emerson, Shakespeare—core curriculum in many school districts—but not the books I wanted to read. I simply wasn't ready for those books, so I didn't read them.

In college as a math major, I determined to avoid unnecessary exposure to English teachers, which was easy until an injury forced me to spend a week in bed. A friend visited and brought a couple of paperback novels. I accepted them (I couldn't be rude), but later tossed them on a shelf with a chuckle.

Later, the chuckle turned to boredom; I picked up one of the books and started reading, evoking the feeling I had three years earlier when reading The Godfather. I wondered if I would like other books and started looking around, asking librarians and teachers. By . . .

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