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Middle School Reading

Discover Pinterest’s 10 best ideas and inspiration for Middle School Reading. Get inspired and try out new things.

To love to read. As teachers, it's one of our basic, core wishes for our students. Some students come to us with a hunger for reading. Give them a thick novel (or better yet, let them bring their own) and they'll happily sit and read for as long as we allow. All day even. We can pretty much guarantee these students fall asleep at night with a book tented across their chest, having squeezed out as much of it as their droopy little eyes could handle. Other students "like" to read. And others "don't mind" reading, if they don't have anything better to do. Others will read at school but rarely do it at home. And still others avoid it like the plague. I want to share five ideas to help get all these other students reading more at home. To be clear, I agree with J.K. Rowling when she said, "If you don't like to read, you haven't found the right book." Helping students find the "right book" is irreplaceable. So the ideas that follow are meant to support this quest, not replace it. Concrete, fun tools to motivate students. 1. Personal Book Bracket You may have seen the idea of a book tournament, often done in the spring running parallel to March Madness, where books are selected and placed into a bracket-style tournament. Students then read some or all of the books and vote for the winners of each match-up. Why not streamline it into a personal book bracket? Give each student their own mini-bracket, maybe an 8-book tournament or even just a 4-book tournament, and let them choose the books. They can read the books at home and the bracket acts as a bit of fun motivation to complete a book and move on to the next one until all books in the bracket are read and the student can decide on their "champ." Be sure to grab the book bracket template you see below! And if students work on another book bracket afterward, you can even have them combine the two brackets so the champs from each bracket "compete" against each other to be the grand champ. 2. The Tower of Books Challenge Tower of Books is an engaging independent reading challenge, great for replacing a stuck-in-a-rut reading log. (You know the one... that chart with good intentions of ensuring students are consistently reading but eventually becomes a roll-of-the-eyes chore void of any student motivation. Yeah, that one.) The Tower of Books Challenge is based on two core ideas: to widen students' reading choices and to provide a fresh and motivating way to keep track of what they read. Students are given a reading list with numerous genres and categories of books they must read to meet the challenge. For each book students read, they create a book cut-out from the printable files, fill in their book information, and begin forming their… Tower of Books! Towers can be built with 3D book look-a-likes, each one representing a book read from the category list, or they can be built with 2D book spines. You can read more about my Tower of Books Challenge HERE, or check it out in my TpT shop HERE. 3. Book Connection Chain For students who like puzzles and solving codes, a Book Connection Chain might be just the motivation tool for them. The basic idea is to make connections between the books students read. The puzzle-solving part comes into play by having students connect the books they read in different ways AND to connect them into a loop. Look at the picture below. This chain used six picture books, connected in lots of different ways, from characters to plot events to genres, and more. Some connections are rather obvious and some are deeper. The tricky part is connecting the chain back on itself, completing the loop. It often takes moving the books around into different orders to get the connections to work. If they're clever, students usually don't need to select books with a certain connection in mind prior to reading them. Rather, they can read what they want, and then work on the connection chain afterward. Be sure to grab that connection chain template from the picture! 4. Top 5 Bookshelf For students who love lists, or who love to rank things, ask them to keep a "top 5 bookshelf" at home. In a Top 5 bookshelf, students keep their current five favorite books in one place in their home. If they don't own the book (if it's a library book, for instance), they just record the book title on a note card as a placeholder. The key is the changing nature of a favorite five books. As students read more books, their favorites can change, and their Top 5 shelf would change as well. You could even request students to snap a pic of their Top 5 Bookshelf to share with the class! 5. "Real Life" Book Clubs Book clubs or literature groups might already be part of your reading block schedule, but if so, they are often pretty full of expectations and assignments. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. But what I'm suggesting here is a type of book club that's meant to encourage more at-home reading, and to do that, I've found it helpful to mirror "real-life" book clubs, in which a group of people read the same book and then get together to chat about it. That's it. No extra assignments or tests or projects. Allowing students to form a small group with a book everyone involved wants to read can go a long way to building in some natural peer accountability. I've found it's helpful to set up some simple norms to help the group run smoothly but without mucking it up with a bunch of strict rules. For example: Set one reading assignment at a time and agree on it together. Do the reading before the group meets. Bring your book to the book club meeting. Mark one part of the reading that would be interesting to chat about. In my experience, informal book clubs like these hit some peaks and valleys with any particular class, and students themselves learn a lot about what works and what doesn't just through trying them out. Giving students the tools they need (like copies of the books and 15 minutes of time on Friday to have a book club meeting) and then stepping back is often is enough for them to figure the details out on their own, and can be a perfect jumping off point for more organized, "official" book clubs you use to incorporate into your reading instruction. * * * Want some tips to give to parents about how to support their child's reading at home? I've got a post full of practical tips and a handy printable brochure you can check out right HERE.

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Seriously, that's it. And in that 2 minutes, you'll learn more about your students as readers than you ever would from a reading log that may or may not be

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I recently assigned a one-pager final project to my sophomores for their culminating Night project. I wanted to combine as many rigorous ELA content ideas as possible, while also designing a fun project for students that provided them with a bit of choice. To make this project rigorous, I required my students to include multiple MLA-cited quotations with a literary analysis explanation. These are skills my students have learned and practiced all year long, so it was a way for me to assess that skill. I also wanted to give my students an opportunity to express their creativity, and it came through. For the actual assignment, I created a one-pager choice board that is similar that requires students to connect four elements. Every student had to complete the quotes, questions, and images element of the project. From there, students had their choice of four different items they could include: a connection to a song, a timeline, a setting, or a figurative language option. By providing students with a choice, they feel like they have more say with their work. I reviewed the assignment with my students, explained my expectations, passed out the handout (which was printed double-sided with the instructions on the front and the brainstorming organizer and checklist on the back), and showed my students some examples. Keep reading the post. You can sign-up for my emails to receive a free Google Docs copy of this assignment which includes the assignment, checklist, planning sheet, and a rubric. I first assigned the project on a Friday to give my students an extra weekend to work on the project. I also provided my students with large paper (11x17inch) for the assignment. Only a few students took advantage of this extra time, but I recommend giving some extra time. I also dedicated two class periods to work on this project, and most of them needed to commit outside class time on this project as well. On the day projects were due, I provided my students with an opportunity to present their one-page to class. I did this as an extra-credit option. For each student who volunteered to present their project, I gave them an extra 5 points on their project). The Night One-Pager was an enjoyable project for my students, and it was the perfect final project to assign at the end of the school year. Subscribe to Receive the One-Pager You'll receive the one-pager assignment as a Google Doc link. Thank you for subscribing. Please check your email. Once you confirm your email you'll receive the one-pager. There was an error submitting your subscription. Please try again. Email Address I'd like to receive the free email course. Subscribe We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit This post contains an affiliate link.

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Dates Round 3 of the Bookopoly ReadAThon will go for the entirety of January 2021! From 12:00AM on the 1st of January till 11:59pm on the 31st of January! The Bookopoly Board You are welcome to dow…

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This battle of wills is perhaps the most epic, universal, and notorious problem that English teachers face, even more than grading struggles: getting students to ACTUALLY read that book, short story, article, or poem. Whether it’s an assigned text or choice reading, students have a variety of obstacles that make reading at home difficult. The struggle ranges from the innocent (forgetting to read) to the sympathetic (struggling to read) to the frustrating (too busy to read) to the malicious (choosing not to read, with no excuse). With an ever-increasing number of websites that make cheating easier, how can a teacher increase reading skills (and preferably a love of reading) if the student just won’t do it? Since students’ reasons for not reading vary, we teachers can’t only keep students accountable through assessment (although that’s important); we have to hack their motivation and ruffle their curiosity. Teaming up with me to tackle this question is fellow ELA teacher Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog. 1. Start reading in class. Sara: I have always found that if we start reading in class (either read-aloud or independently), they're more likely to go home and continue doing it. If we have built momentum, gotten the students hooked on the storyline, and talked through any immediate obstacles, then students are prepared to go it alone. For example, I personally hate the first chapter of To Kill A Mockingbird (even though I love the book overall), and I can't imagine teaching that novel without me doing an interrupted read-aloud to get students PAST that brutal opening faster. Kristy: When we read whole class novels, I do almost all of the reading during class time. Then when I need the students to complete some reading at home, they are more inclined because I do not assign it nightly. 2. Keep parents in the loop. Kristy: I remind parents through online portals and during in person meetings that it is a requirement of my English program for students to read at least 20 minutes nightly. Many parents thank me for this requirement as it gives them a reason to enforce reading at home. Sara: In the past, I have sometimes sent a mass email to parents letting them know what book we are reading, when it has to be done by, and any other relevant information (such as project info or why we are reading this novel). Some parents appreciate being kept in the loop and will help remind their child to read at home. 3. Help students learn pacing skills. Sara: Some students aren't reading because they truly don't know how to fit it into their lives (and other homework). I like to teach them that even a little reading every day is better than none; showing them the cumulative payoff of reading is easier with these pacing bookmarks. Students calculate a page goal per day and make a calendar to try to stick to their page goals. Kristy: I explicitly teach my students how to select novels that are the right fit for them. This starts the first week of school. We set goals together and use sticky notes to mark places in their novels and write dates on each sticky notes. These visual reminders help students see their weekly reading goals. Not all students need a visual reminder; some students also do well with informal reading check ins. I regularly walk around my classroom during independent reading time and ask students questions about their reading materials. I also greet my students at the door almost every day - they have to show me their novel as they enter. This quick visual scan allows me to track their reading. Sara: You might also like to read Kristy's blog post about Why Classroom Libraries are Essential and my post with Tips for Independent Reading Programs. 4. Ask questions that internet summaries can't answer. Sara: Pick the questions on your quizzes or checkpoints very carefully. It's fine to ask about summary, theme, symbolism, or characters, but just know that this information could be in an online summary somewhere. In addition to questions like “Which of these events did NOT happen?”, throw in a few questions that ask for opinions, author’s writing style, predicting what's next, and inference. Kristy: I use daily warm ups to check for comprehension when reading whole class novels. This only counts for a very small portion of a student’s overall grade for that unit. I plan assignments where students must demonstrate deep critical thinking, and not just repeat general comprehension information. During the assignment creation process, I try to create choice boards so students have several options to demonstrate their learning, but must complete one per column. This helps me differentiate, but also assess curriculum. Sara: In addition, Kristy has great genre-specific book reports that students can't possibly fake! 5. Ask for quotes. Sara: It's hard for students to fake that they read the chapter when they have to quickly flip through the text to find a quote or moment you're asking for. Ask students to show (or paraphrase) text evidence to back up their answer. Kristy: It is important to explicitly teach students about finding and use quotations from the novel. I start this process using the gradual release model - lots of teacher directed, then slowly moving towards student directed and independent learning. Picture books, song lyrics and short stories are a great place to start when teaching students to analyze song lyrics. 6. Model enthusiasm for the text, not just obligation and accountability. Kristy: Students come to me frequently and ask for book recommendations from the classroom library. I start by asking them what genres they like and pull engaging books from those areas. Then before I leave the stack of books with a student to look through, I pull my top three novels and explain why I think those would be a great fit. Sara: If you don't like the text or aren't passionate about the unit, students will pick up on it, and they won't want to read it, either. If you hype up the book, act like you can't WAIT for them to read what happens next, drool over beautiful sentences, defend its modern-day relevance, and put some excitement into it, then comparatively more students will give it a try. 7. Make social incentives. Sara: I never advocate for shaming students, BUT if there is a peer or social reason to read, that motivates some students. For example, if there's a group project and people are relying on a student to do his or her part, that helps. Or, if I tell students that they are allowed to publicly quiz each other on a chapter, then suddenly no one wants to be unprepared. Kristy: Students love to read what other students have recommended. Build time into your classes just a few minutes for students to share their likes and dislikes. Eventually it will become an organic process not needing teacher involvement. 8. Use assessments that force reading. Kristy: When I assess reading, students know they cannot Google the answers and that they MUST have completed their reading. Creative assignments in lieu of essays can be a great way to ensure students have completed their reading. It is quite evident to the teacher and to a student’s peers who has read the novel when presenting creating assignments. Sara: Even if the student didn't come to class prepared, can your activity or assessment MAKE them get caught up? Can you get students to act out a chapter, look for evidence of a claim, or illustrate a paragraph? 9. Ask a question they WANT to answer. Sara: I love using reverse psychology or a hook to frame their thinking. For example, for the short story “The Most Dangerous Game”, I tell students that I think Suzanne Collins copied this short story when creating The Hunger Games. That makes students want to read it to compare. (No, I don't ACTUALLY think Ms. Collins would plagiarize, but that's not the point!) Kristy: When we read the first chapter of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton - students want to give up on the book due to the names of the characters, but as soon as Ponyboy gets jumped outside of the movie theatre they want to know more. As the students become more invested in the novel, they answer reading questions and start to speculate about the plot of the novel. You might also like... Kristy's Independent Reading Journal Assignment & Forms Sara's Book of the Month (independent reading) Program for grades 6-8 or 9-12 Do you have more ideas? Tell us in the comments!

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