Sunday, May 11, 2008
Reading for Pleasure
Blame it on the busy life of someone trying to hit the ground running after long service leave AND stay in the holiday mode for a while but I've been remiss in blogging lately. There are many subjects I want to write about, still percolating in my mind and will no doubt find their home here in due course. But on last week I was able to take a photo of my students in the reading area of the library (a designated part of the library with comfy chairs and small round tables) and I hope I was able to show some of the love of reading that this practice our school has adopted has generated. Late last year when the program had been running for a year the library gave me some date to show that the amount of fiction borrowed had increased by a significant amount compared to the last years records. What I wanted to have was a place and a time in the curriculum where our teachers put their money (investment of time) where their mouth is. If we value reading for pleasure and see it as something that will enefit the students in their quest to become conscious life-long learners we have to give a time and place for it in the curriculum. iT's no good saying there is too much material to cover, that we don't have time. So in our school the reading for pleasure is exactly that. It is not associated with any assessment or extra work. There are no restrictions on what they can read - it can be fiction, non-fiction, magazine, newspapers or picture books. They do not have to finish the book or report on it in any way. The only requirements is that they don't chat to each other while reading (and I am even in two minds about that) but I want to generate at atmosphere of calm and peace and pleasure associated with reading. Each English class from Year 7 to Year 11 has a half or one period a cycle devoted to this and it is great if the teacher can model reading for pleasure as well. It is hardly a chore for English teachers. So why was I a bit miffed when I explained to a parent what our system was and he said "wish I got paid for sittng around and reading!" Any way the students love it, the borrowings are going up and when we do have student volunteers talk to the class about books they are reading at the end of each session, I get to hear how much they value our system. I think Stephen Krashen, who inspired me, would be proud, and I thank the librarians at school for organising it all.
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