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Creating Independent Readers

Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 4 to 5 p.m. ET.
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 Creating Independent Readers(05/15/2013) 
10:02
Bryan Toporek: 
Good morning and welcome to today's free EdWeekTeacher chat, Creating Independent Readers. I've just opened the chat for questions, so please start submitting yours below.

We'll be back at 4 p.m. ET with guest Maddie Witter, author of Reading Without Limits. We hope to see you then!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 10:02 Bryan Toporek
3:55
Bryan Toporek: 
Thanks for joining us for today's free EdWeekTeacher chat, Creating Independent Readers. We'll get underway with author Maddie Witter in roughly five minutes.

In the meantime, please keep submitting your questions below. Thanks!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 3:55 Bryan Toporek
4:00
Bryan Toporek: 
Alright, folks, I'm passing control over to Liana Heitin, the associate editor of EdWeekTeacher, who'll be the moderator of today's chat.

Take it away, Liana!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:00 Bryan Toporek
4:00
Liana Heitin: 
Hello everyone and welcome to our live chat today, Creating Independent Readers. Our guest is Maddie Witter, author of Reading Without Limits: Teaching Strategies to Build Independent Reading for Life. We’re really looking forward to this discussion as the topic, I think you’ll agree, affects all K-12 teachers and all students at all ability levels.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:00 Liana Heitin
4:00
Liana Heitin: 
But first, Maddie would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:00 Liana Heitin
4:01
Maddie Witter: 
Hi everyone! I wanted to start by thanking you all for the job you do. Teachers do the greatest and hardest work out there and I’m grateful to learn from such a wonderful learning community.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:01 Maddie Witter
4:01
Maddie Witter: 
I am the author of Reading Without Limits. I was the director of instruction at KIPP Infinity Middle School in Harem where I taught 5-8 grade. I currently started a school in Melbourne Australia for all incarcerated youth in the state ages 10-21 where I work as a teaching coach. ^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:01 Maddie Witter
4:01
Liana Heitin: 
Thanks for being with us all the way from Melbourne, Maddie.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:01 Liana Heitin
4:02
Liana Heitin: 
Here's a question from Chris to kick us off.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:02 Liana Heitin
4:02
[Comment From ChrisChris: ] 
Is it better to have students read first and then go back and re-read, taking notes, or start off taking notes while reading?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:02 Chris
4:02
Maddie Witter: 
Thanks for the question Chris.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:02 Maddie Witter
4:02
Maddie Witter: 
I think both ways have their advantages.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:02 Maddie Witter
4:03
Maddie Witter: 
If you have students take notes while they are reading, students are able to capture what they are thinking right there while they are reading. We teach something called the magic ratio to our students.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:03 Maddie Witter
4:04
Maddie Witter: 
As they are reading, say in a ten minute period, for every ten minutes they are reading, seven minutes should be full on reading and three minutes should be notetaking. That way students don't note take too much or too little.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:04 Maddie Witter
4:04
Maddie Witter: 
But, adolescents particularly can be resistant to rereading- they already read it so why do they have to read it again?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:04 Maddie Witter
4:04
Maddie Witter: 
Therefore, I would also integrate- in shared reading especially, opportunities for rereads and notetaking then. ^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:04 Maddie Witter
4:05
Liana Heitin: 
Can you tell us a little bit more about shared reading, since it came up already?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:05 Liana Heitin
4:05
Maddie Witter: 
Shared reading is one component of the RWL program: choice reading, shared reading and guided reading.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:05 Maddie Witter
4:06
Maddie Witter: 
Shared reading is when you lead your whole class through a text that is a little bit beyond their reach. Think of it like helping your toddler to walk. You and your partner walk her (I just did this!) along the floor guiding her holding her hands.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:06 Maddie Witter
4:06
Maddie Witter: 
You choose a text that is grade level or higher and through a series of high level questioning and classroom discussions students unpack the texts. You also ask students to independent read and notetake the text. Therefore this is aligned to the new CCSS.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:06 Maddie Witter
4:07
Maddie Witter: 
Choose NF or F texts- but shared reading is best done with a text that YOU love- your infatuation will spread. ^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:07 Maddie Witter
4:08
Liana Heitin: 
Remind us what you mean by NF or F...
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:08 Liana Heitin
4:08
Maddie Witter: 
Sorry Liana! NF= nonfiction and F= fiction^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:08 Maddie Witter
4:08
Liana Heitin: 
Thanks! (Just making sure we're all on the same page--pun intended?!)
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:08 Liana Heitin
4:09
Liana Heitin: 
Speaking of the CCSS...
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:09 Liana Heitin
4:09
[Comment From Carol Rasco, President & CEO of RIFCarol Rasco, President & CEO of RIF: ] 
For teachers wary about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), what are one or two reasons they can be a positive to a child not yet embracing reading?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:09 Carol Rasco, President & CEO of RIF
4:09
Maddie Witter: 
By the way, I shared a transcript of a shared reading class and podcast here http://www.reading-without-limits.com/sec2.html
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:09 Maddie Witter
4:09
Maddie Witter: 
Thanks for the question Carol!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:09 Maddie Witter
4:10
Maddie Witter: 
The CCSS in its push for text complexity want to prepare our young scholars for college and career readiness. Who doesn’t want to be best prepared for the career of their choice? I know that I do! I think that message is a huge motivator. At KIPP, they make that message an analogy: we are climbing the mountain to and through college. I think that analogy is great.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:10 Maddie Witter
4:11
Maddie Witter: 
For a student not yet embracing reading, I suggest starting small. I liken teaching reading stamina to push-ups. It’s better to do 3 perfect push-ups than 30 sloppy ones. In the same way, it’s better to build on a class who can do 3 minutes of excellent reading then a class that does 30 minutes of distracted reading. Start small, then build.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:11 Maddie Witter
4:11
Maddie Witter: 
For a student not yet embracing complex difficult texts during shared reading...
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:11 Maddie Witter
4:12
Maddie Witter: 
I also think we need to be empathetic. Share your empathy regarding text difficulty before starting the text. As Carol Jago says, “forewarned is forearmed.”
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:12 Maddie Witter
4:12
Maddie Witter: 
Four years ago, when teaching Things Fall Apart, I forewarned my
students of an unfamiliar setting and culture, a complex vocabulary, and
of unlikable characters. I even shared that the text was too hard for me in
ninth grade, but I was confident that with their help, together we wouldn’t
just tackle this text, but would love it. Show cognitive empathy by sharing
potential pitfalls that are going to make the shared text difficult. ^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:12 Maddie Witter
4:12
Liana Heitin: 
Excellent. Here's an important one from Nicole:
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:12 Liana Heitin
4:12
[Comment From Nicole RNicole R: ] 
How do you encourage independent reading when the students you work with may come from environments (homes) that are not literacy rich and whose homes do not encourage that mindset?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:12 Nicole R
4:13
Maddie Witter: 
Thank you for your question Nicole. I agree with Liana- it's so important.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:13 Maddie Witter
4:13
Maddie Witter: 
First, I recommend teaching students to consider their athome reading space.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:13 Maddie Witter
4:13
Maddie Witter: 
Where's the best place (and worst place) to read at home? Have them jot down ten ideas. Then have them cross out ones that they don't like and circle ones that they think are a good idea. One of my students ended up deciding to read in the bathroom!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:13 Maddie Witter
4:14
Maddie Witter: 
Teach them the factors that would be distracting (i.e. crying baby, tv, etc). If at home isn't the best place to read, then they can do some at home reading after school in your classroom.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:14 Maddie Witter
4:15
Maddie Witter: 
Then, teach them how to build their stamina. As I mentioned, it's okay to start small. I'd rather that they were doing 5 minutes of great independent reading then 30 minutes of sloppy reading.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:15 Maddie Witter
4:15
Maddie Witter: 
Do a stamina building exercise that they can use at home.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:15 Maddie Witter
4:15
Maddie Witter: 
Create a www.donorschoose.org grant for bookmark timers. They are so cool. They are a bookmark and a reading timer (in our techy age you can use an app too!)
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:15 Maddie Witter
4:16
Maddie Witter: 
Have students track how long they read each night. Then, ask students to create a line graph representing their reading growth over a 2 week (4 week) period.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:16 Maddie Witter
4:16
Maddie Witter: 
Another thing you can introduce is something I"m trying this year- honesty journals. I wrote about it on my blog a few weeks ago.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:16 Maddie Witter
4:17
Maddie Witter: 
Ask students to write out how they are feeling about reading each night. If they didn't read and watched tv instead because they were tired- fine. SOmetimes I don't read every night too. Model the same process by creating an honesty journal yourself.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:17 Maddie Witter
4:17
Maddie Witter: 
Another one of my favorite ways to build at home reading stamina is something I write about in RWL. Create a reading calendar. Use a blank calendar template.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:17 Maddie Witter
4:17
Liana Heitin: 
(Here's Maddie's blog FYI: http://literacyteacher.wordpress.com/)
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:17 Liana Heitin
4:17
Maddie Witter: 
Have students decide their upcoming 3-4 books. Have them plan out how many pages they are going to read each night and then they put it in the calendar. Each night they self evaluate if they met their goal.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:17 Maddie Witter
4:18
Maddie Witter: 
New Zealand research John Hattie discovered that the greatest indicator of student success is self-efficacy (or self evaluating yourself) so I recommend building that reflection daily.^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:18 Maddie Witter
4:18
Liana Heitin: 
Great stuff!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:18 Liana Heitin
4:19
Liana Heitin: 
Here's a question from Ruthie on texts.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:19 Liana Heitin
4:19
[Comment From RuthieRuthie: ] 
Would you have the entire class read the same book, or let students choose their own, different books to read?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:19 Ruthie
4:19
Maddie Witter: 
Thanks for your question Ruthie. I would do both.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:19 Maddie Witter
4:19
Maddie Witter: 
First, I recommend having students choose their own texts on their comfort level. Comfort level as I describe in RWL is where they are able to really understand the text (the exact percentage accuracy is in the book).
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:19 Maddie Witter
4:20
Maddie Witter: 
If you can build a cultivated, robust library have students choose a 'choice book' and build in time for them to read their choice text.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:20 Maddie Witter
4:20
Maddie Witter: 
I also think they should have a shared text (for shared reading). This is the text that you use that's grade level or higher. Students also independently read this book.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:20 Maddie Witter
4:21
Maddie Witter: 
If you have time for intervention, I also recommend a guided reading block (taught by you or another teacher... reading teachers need all hands on deck!) In guided reading, you work with texts that are just a little too hard for students. You group students in smaller groups and they read that text (in groups of 5-8) as you guide them through it.^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:21 Maddie Witter
4:22
Liana Heitin: 
As a follow-up, Ramona is asking how much time to devote to independent texts vs. whole-class texts.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:22 Liana Heitin
4:22
Maddie Witter: 
Thanks for the question Ramona. It's a tricky one.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:22 Maddie Witter
4:23
Maddie Witter: 
It's tricky because it depends. Teachers have so many different timetables. Some teach 45 minute blocks a day. Some teach two hours blocks a day.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:23 Maddie Witter
4:24
Maddie Witter: 
I would say (nothing set in stone) But if you could divide equally choice/shared/guided. They are going to still get a ton of independent reading time because as I share in RWL you build in time for independent reading with all three. But again, there's a lot of wiggle room.^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:24 Maddie Witter
4:25
Liana Heitin: 
Thanks, Maddie. Here's another one on types of texts.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:25 Liana Heitin
4:25
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
What kind of books/literature do you find excites students who are normally checked out during class or indifferent to learning? Action books? Mystery?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:25 Guest
4:25
Maddie Witter: 
Thanks for the question!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:25 Maddie Witter
4:26
Maddie Witter: 
Right now I'm working with a group of students who are ver reluctant- most (nearly all) dropped out from school. They are all currently incarcerated. Many are years behind in reading level and wary of school.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:26 Maddie Witter
4:27
Maddie Witter: 
For our boys, they are really into graphic novels at the moment. This is a genre that is exploding- there are so many cool ones. The Walking Dead or Maus for the more mature readers. Books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Nerds for the younger readers.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:27 Maddie Witter
4:27
Maddie Witter: 
I also highly highly recommend series books (regardless of genre). It's really hard to start a book. Beginnings of books can be boring. You don't know the setting, plot or characters yet.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:27 Maddie Witter
4:27
Maddie Witter: 
With a series, you don't have to 'break up' with the character at thee end of the book.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:27 Maddie Witter
4:28
Maddie Witter: 
I find that series books are the #1 way to bring in a reluctant reader. Series books are comforting. THough, make sure you have every book in the series! There's nothing more annoying than starting a series then seeing that #3 in the series is missing.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:28 Maddie Witter
4:29
Maddie Witter: 
It's hard to make more specific recommendations without knowing the age of students you work with, guest, but generally, I would highly recommend graphic novels and series books like Anthony Horowitz books for your most reluctant readers.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:29 Maddie Witter
4:29
Liana Heitin: 
(For those who are interested, here's an interview I did on using graphic novels a few years ago: http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2009/05/04/graphicnovelsvannest.h19.html)
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:29 Liana Heitin
4:29
Maddie Witter: 
ooh! and another fun series that kids really like now is the lunch lady series. thanks for the link liana- graphic novels are so so awesome and a great hook for kids to get reading.^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:29 Maddie Witter
4:30
Liana Heitin: 
Yes, we've heard that quite a bit, too. Thanks, Maddie.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:30 Liana Heitin
4:30
Liana Heitin: 
Here's one about partnering with parents.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:30 Liana Heitin
4:31
[Comment From FrancescaFrancesca: ] 
How can teachers partner with parents for help in motivating students to develop better reading habits at home? Any strategies you have seen work with parents from underprivileged communities?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:31 Francesca
4:31
Maddie Witter: 
Thanks for your question Francesca.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:31 Maddie Witter
4:31
Maddie Witter: 
The timer app that I mentioned earlier works well with family help. Parents can use the app on their home to help their kids track their reading stamina.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:31 Maddie Witter
4:32
Maddie Witter: 
Another fun activity is a reading timeline. Create a timeline of a favorite book from each year of your life- from infancy through adulthood. Then, ask kids to go home and have their parents create a similar or abbreviated timeline.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:32 Maddie Witter
4:33
Maddie Witter: 
Students also love reading aloud. A homework assignment that can be a ton of fun is to have them go home and read to their sibling, the mirror, a parent... some parents may not have ever heard their students read aloud.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:33 Maddie Witter
4:34
Maddie Witter: 
I think that the most important thing is to be in constant communication with parents. I try to commit to make 1-2 parent phone calls a day. When I call, I don't update about achievement. Instead, I share 'soft skill' updates- how students have been working hard, persisting through difficulty, demonstrating stamina, etc.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:34 Maddie Witter
4:34
Maddie Witter: 
Recently one of our students finished the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. We called his foster mom. She was braced for the worst when she heard the school had called- she hadn't ever received a positive phone call. :-(
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:34 Maddie Witter
4:35
Maddie Witter: 
We told her that he had finished the entire series (after having not read a book in four years) in only a few weeks. She was so excited she got the series for his younger sibling. When he was released on day released, he read it aloud to him. She was so proud, as was our 18 year old student.^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:35 Maddie Witter
4:35
Liana Heitin: 
Soft skill updates--what a great idea. Thanks for sharing that story as well.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:35 Liana Heitin
4:36
Liana Heitin: 
Here's a question from a coach-to-be.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:36 Liana Heitin
4:36
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Currently, I am a K-8 math specialist and I just recently applied for a position in a particular region and one of the requirements is working with teachers K-12 in Literacy. Where do you think I should start to learn more about literacy from a coach perspective? I am very familiar with different components of reading I was Literacy First trained.. I just need a refresher.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:36 Guest
4:36
Maddie Witter: 
Thanks for the question!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:36 Maddie Witter
4:36
Maddie Witter: 
I'm currently working with a couple teachers now in the exact same position.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:36 Maddie Witter
4:37
Maddie Witter: 
In RWL, I end each chapter with special suggestions for literacy coaches and principles. But, that's a shameless plug.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:37 Maddie Witter
4:38
Maddie Witter: 
K-12 is a big range- congrats on such a cool job.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:38 Maddie Witter
4:39
Maddie Witter: 
My best advice for literacy coaches (beyond making sure that you have time to teach a class yourself- like guided reading) is to focus on the 'yet'.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:39 Maddie Witter
4:39
Maddie Witter: 
Sometimes kids aren't able to do something... yet.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:39 Maddie Witter
4:40
Maddie Witter: 
Brainstorm with teachers strategies that will help them incrementally build that academic or soft skill that they aren't yet demonstrating. Then, focus on that particular strategy for a few months.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:40 Maddie Witter
4:40
Maddie Witter: 
All too often I think we as teachers try something and abandon it when it doesn't quite work. With reading, stick with the routine for the year- and incrementally focus on how to make it better. Check out http://www.reading-without-limits.com/sec2.html for reflection videos from teachers (in a few diff. grade levels) on how they got through different routines that worked and didn't work.^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:40 Maddie Witter
4:41
Liana Heitin: 
Terrific. And here's a question pretty much every teacher has faced...
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:41 Liana Heitin
4:41
[Comment From Marlene ByrneMarlene Byrne: ] 
How do you get the kid who hates to read half-way liking to read
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:41 Marlene Byrne
4:42
Maddie Witter: 
Hi Marlene! Thanks for the question.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:42 Maddie Witter
4:42
Maddie Witter: 
I think that the #1 reason why kids 'hate' to read is because it's really frustrating. It’s imperative to first determine a student’s reading level- it’s hard to guess. A very articulate student may actually pose poor decoding skills and be reading on a grade 2 level. I recommend some of my favorite reading assessments in RWL.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:42 Maddie Witter
4:42
Maddie Witter: 
From there, you want to match a student's reading level to their interest level.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:42 Maddie Witter
4:43
Maddie Witter: 
I used to make the following rookie mistake. Say for instance a student really likes the WWF or Hello Kitty. I would tear up the bookstore or library looking for all the books on WWF or Hello Kitty.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:43 Maddie Witter
4:43
Maddie Witter: 
But, instead I need to match books to kids on a deeper level. I recommend giving a reading survey. Try to understand what makes a student 'tick'. Ask questions like:
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:43 Maddie Witter
4:44
Maddie Witter: 
Who is your best friend? Why?
What's something you are scared of?
If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
(etc)
Students don't have to answer all questions... just ones they are comfortable with.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:44 Maddie Witter
4:44
Maddie Witter: 
Then you can start matchign. Say for instance they said that their best friend is Mike b/c Mike always sticks up for them no matter what.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:44 Maddie Witter
4:45
Maddie Witter: 
You cay say that that really reminds you of the relationship in 'Tiger Rising' (or whatever other book with a same theme) Say- your best friend really reminds me of the character in Tiger Rising. It's a very different book to your life, but I couldn't stop thinking about that connection. Check it out.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:45 Maddie Witter
4:45
Maddie Witter: 
Also, give students a lot of choice when they choose books. But, as I mention in RWL, not too much choice.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:45 Maddie Witter
4:46
Maddie Witter: 
For some sts choice can be dehabilitating. They look at a library and don't know where to start. Choose a few books (based on their interest survey- I share a sample survey on www.reading-without-limits.com) and ask them to choose one.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:46 Maddie Witter
4:46
Maddie Witter: 
From there, I highly recommend doing a ton of stamina activities like the ones I mentioned earlier. Here's another that works really well for us in Australia:
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:46 Maddie Witter
4:47
Maddie Witter: 
I like using a stamina checklist. Create a list of habits that you think encapsulate great stamina- or elicit the habits from your students. Before starting ind. Reading ask kids to circle the habit they want to work on. Halfway through reading, ask kids to check off the habits they are demonstrating. Afterwards, ask them to reflect which habit they did the best, the one that needs the most improvement, etc.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:47 Maddie Witter
4:47
Maddie Witter: 
Another idea is to create a template with two thermometers- one on the left and one on the right of the page. Divide the thermometer up incrementally by periods of time. If 45 minutes red-hot goal for ind. reading, then make that the top of the thermometer, breaking it up in 5 minute increments.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:47 Maddie Witter
4:47
Maddie Witter: 
Before starting reading, ask kids to mark off how many minutes they can read using the thermometer on the left. After reading, ask how many they were able to do. We have a group of boys at the moment, ages 13-15 who weren’t able to read for two minutes as a group two weeks ago. Now, they are doing the max- 40 minutes. The thermometer was one thing that really helped them get there. This is also a great self-efficacy building tool.^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:47 Maddie Witter
4:48
Liana Heitin: 
Here's a comment from Kathleen that I think speaks to the heart of what you just said about understanding students, Maddie:
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:48 Liana Heitin
4:48
[Comment From KathleenKathleen: ] 
I had a teacher come to me (it's my first year in the high school library) and ask to spend time with her kids that were reluctant readers. She couldn't get them to read. She brought in food/drink and we sat at the table in the library, talked about books, shared experiences with the kids about reading and munched on breakfast foods with the table all set up with table cloth, etc. We had book talk (using books about topics they had chosen earlier) and they had to check out 2 books. Their teacher had a simple form for them to fill out as they read-like the journal you mentioned. I was so impressed! About half the kids (10 total) finished one of their books. Their teacher has brought them back 2 more times and those kids continue to read. Isn't it important to listen to the kids, see what they want, and provide that environment they need to see reading is important? Sorry that was so long.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:48 Kathleen
4:48
Maddie Witter: 
Thank you so much for your story Kathleen.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:48 Maddie Witter
4:49
Maddie Witter: 
"environment" is a key word there. She made it so comfortable. With food... yum!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:49 Maddie Witter
4:50
Liana Heitin: 
Only about 10 minutes left everyone, so get those last burning questions in.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:50 Liana Heitin
4:50
Maddie Witter: 
I think creating a cozy space is one of the #1 factors to improving reading motivation. In RWL I share Theresa's classroom. She got some used furniture donated from Craigslist and created the Cocoa Caliente cafe. Students on a rotation (or earned) basis read over int the corner of the room sipping hot chocolate. I think it's really important to emulate an enviroment where we love to read. Make your classroom look like your favorite bookstore. OR livingroom. I share more of my favorite ideas, many of them from KIPP classrooms, in RWL. I love your story Kathleen.^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:50 Maddie Witter
4:51
Liana Heitin: 
Here's a good question from Lester:
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:51 Liana Heitin
4:51
[Comment From LesterLester: ] 
What advice do you have on helping students meaningfully annotate texts? How can we help not to see note-taking as another difficult task associated with reading?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:51 Lester
4:52
Maddie Witter: 
Lester, your question is so relevant especially with the new CCSS.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:52 Maddie Witter
4:52
Maddie Witter: 
And I've been there with students really 'done' with notetaking.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:52 Maddie Witter
4:52
Maddie Witter: 
Firstly, I recommend no quotas (i.e. go home and write 8 annotations).
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:52 Maddie Witter
4:53
Maddie Witter: 
SEcondly, I recommend mixing it up. In RWL, I share several kid-friendly ways to hold students accountable to their thinking including i-Think pages and I Love Reading Pages. Routines are improtant, but we need to give students space to either choose their favorite way to annotate or experience variety.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:53 Maddie Witter
4:54
Maddie Witter: 
Our students love technology, so set up a class blog about the shared text. Pose a debatable question nightly for homework. Students respond to the question (with lots of textual proof of course). This is a really fun homework assignment- and then you don't have to carry 100 journals to grade. All the thinking is right there on your laptop.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:54 Maddie Witter
4:54
Maddie Witter: 
For annotations, I recommend narrowing the types of symbols you teach to a 10-15. I share how symbols that relate to the CCSS in RWL.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:54 Maddie Witter
4:55
Maddie Witter: 
You also need to meaningfully teach underlining/highlighting- what's too much and what's too little. Bring in an old book from your college days to show how you annotated in school so they can see the real-life connection.^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:55 Maddie Witter
4:56
Liana Heitin: 
Back to that technology piece:
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:56 Liana Heitin
4:56
[Comment From RuthieRuthie: ] 
Have you explored using e-readers in the classroom?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:56 Ruthie
4:56
Maddie Witter: 
Thanks Ruthie!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:56 Maddie Witter
4:56
Maddie Witter: 
E-readers are great especially b/c they can be linked to audibles too.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:56 Maddie Witter
4:56
Maddie Witter: 
Keep in mind though that some kids don't like reading on e-readers. e-readers with lots of apps can be a distraction, so set up routines around that.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:56 Maddie Witter
4:57
Maddie Witter: 
As mentioned, my favorite way to use an e-reader is also to set it up with a book on tape or audible. That's a great way to boost stamina too.^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:57 Maddie Witter
4:57
Liana Heitin: 
OK, one last question. More like a plea for resources.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:57 Liana Heitin
4:57
[Comment From StevenSteven: ] 
Is there a free list of leveled books available for download, for example, that would facilitate matching books with readers K-12?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:57 Steven
4:58
Maddie Witter: 
Hi Steven! Yes- check out the Fountas and Pinnell leveled book list as a place to start.^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:58 Maddie Witter
4:58
Liana Heitin: 
Ok...one more...
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:58 Liana Heitin
4:58
[Comment From Kevin D.Kevin D.: ] 
How can I help my students read for longer periods of time in class?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:58 Kevin D.
4:59
Maddie Witter: 
Hi Kevin. Thanks for the question.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:59 Maddie Witter
4:59
Maddie Witter: 
I recommend doing stamina boosting activities like the line graph, stamina checklist, stamina thermometers, stamina bookmarks, stamina calendar (all described in this chat). There are more in RWL and on the www.reading-without-limits.com website. ^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:59 Maddie Witter
4:59
Liana Heitin: 
Unfortunately folks, we’re out of time. Thanks so much to Maddie for leading this insightful conversation. And thanks to all of you for asking such great questions! Maddie, any final words?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 4:59 Liana Heitin
5:00
Maddie Witter: 
I am so honored and humbled to be working with such a great network of teachers. Thank you for doing such hard work with your kids. Thanks!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 5:00 Maddie Witter
5:00
Maddie Witter: 
^
Wednesday May 15, 2013 5:00 Maddie Witter
5:00
Bryan Toporek: 
Thanks, Liana and Maddie! That's a great place to end.

Folks, once again, thanks for joining us for today's chat, Creating Independent Readers. We'd like to extend a special thanks to our excellent guest, Maddie Witter, and our great moderator Liana, too.

Wednesday May 15, 2013 5:00 Bryan Toporek
5:01
Bryan Toporek: 
We'll be posting the transcript of today's chat within about 30 minutes, right here on this same page.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 5:01 Bryan Toporek
5:01
Bryan Toporek: 
Thanks again, and have a great rest of the week!
Wednesday May 15, 2013 5:01 Bryan Toporek
5:01
 

 
 
 

Creating Independent Readers

Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 4 to 5 p.m. ET.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous goal among reading teachers is to prepare students to continue reading into adulthood. In her new book, Reading Without Limits, former teacher and instructional expert Maddie Witter, provides tools for K-12 teachers hoping both to boost literacy achievement and inspire lifelong reading.

During this online chat, Witter offered practical strategies teachers can begin using “on Monday” to improve reading skills and motivation for kids across ability and grade levels. She answered questions on how implementing a combination of choice, shared, and guided reading can better prepare students for independent reading tasks. She also discussed ways to align reading instruction with the Common Core State Standards, adapt strategies for children with special needs, and prepare students for standardized tests.

Guests:
Maddie Witter, author, Reading Without Limits: Teaching Strategies to Build Independent Reading for Life (@Maddie_Witter)

Liana Heitin, associate editor, Education Week Teacher, moderated this chat. (@LianaHeitin)

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