Friday, February 09, 2007

Is this SSR, 2.0?

(check the podcast that grew out of this post)

SSR 2.0aSo here's silent reading (SSR - "sustained silent reading") in my reading group this afternoon. Tried this out yesterday, and today the kids were much more comfortable, started getting into it, maybe a little novelty had worn off. What were they reading? Blogs! Who wrote them? Kids!

I'd been thinking lately how my own reading habits had changed in the last couple of years, with the huge increase in blogs, online news, and so on. When was the last time I actually sat down and read a book? The last time I flew back east to see my family. Yikes! I used to feel guilty about this until I took a closer look at the net of my reading. I read so MUCH more now than I ever used to. But it's a different kind of reading.

In third grade it's a constant struggle with many kids to get them to sit down and cuddle up with a book. The "goal" is that they latch on to a chapter book, get hooked, and want to read, read, read. Read what? More chapter books, I guess.

So my kids were (many of them) struggling to have this type of reading be a major turn on, despite lots of encouragement, rewards, and modeling from me. And I noticed that my modeling had slipped lately. Silent reading time was one of the only times of the day when I could sit down at my desk, check my email, read through my Bloglines. Feeling guilty, and somehow feeling it was the right thing to do, I've turned them loose on blogs - to read. Now this is very different from our blogging time in class. Many wanted to know if they could comment on blogs, even work on their own posts. Nope, I said, this is reading time. OK, fine.

SSR 2.0bThe classroom was the quietest and most focused I have seen in a long time during silent reading. Could have heard a pin drop, were it not for the new agey, light classical instrumental background music I always have going at this time. So, what did they gravitate to?

A few of the things I saw them reading: their own blogs, their classmates' blogs, Gordon Brune's kids, Doug Noon's kids, my blog (yes, this one), Wesley Fryer's blog, even. Those were easily reachable, via comment links or hyperlinks I had set up. And this was just day two. They are still exploring, seeing what is out there. It will be a while before they settle into favorites, and return to them on a regular basis. So much is made of young kids creating content, that I think it's real easy to overlook the positive aspects of young kids consuming content - created by their peers - and who knows who else?

I will likely not do this every day. There is still value in cuddling up with a book. But that is not they way I read anymore. By the time they grow up, I bet their reading preferences will be worlds away from where they and I are now. My hunch is it will not be cuddling up with a chapter book.

45 comments:

Sarah McIntosh Puglisi said...

How wonderful. I bet they loved it.

But Mark, the walls above! I see the snowflakes. It is just a thing of beauty to see them. Wow, we are still cutting the flakes. I took clear contact paper and put them on circles of it, then plastered them to windows and surfaces that let me. Your snowflakes are so beautiful.

Valentines coming. We worked on "love bugs" with heart bodies and 100 spots as it was the 100th day of school.Too soon.
Sarah

Jeff Utecht said...

Thanks for this Mark. I'm forwarding this post on to my 5th grade teachers. I would say SSR 2.0 is having the choice to read what you want, whether it be a blog, a web site, or a book. Allowing the students choice and making that choice something more than a library book is what I think SSR 2.0 is. It's having the freedom to chose not only your reading material, but your reading format. This is great keep it up!

Clarence Fisher said...

Very cool. I do this same thing with the junior high kids in my classroom. I have a sign up sheet and 3 kids each day can be on the machines reading and writing.

Mark Ahlness said...

Sarah, Jeff, Clarence,
Thanks for your thoughts. We shall see how this plays out. Who ever thought I'd have to be saying NO to kids who were supposed to read - but wanted to write instead!!

But they WILL get their chances at writing. Sarah, they are right now working on stories for Valentine's Day. Approximately half are fantasy stories, so they say. Can't wait!

Matt said...

Hi Mark,

Thanks for sharing this great idea!

There are many ways we probably need to rethink our reading and writing instruction in light of the "flat world" we live in today.

I wanted to mention a new website I am working on: BookLook. It let's kids post audio book reviews. We are just starting to do this in my class now, so there are few book reviews.

I'm hoping it will become a useful tool for other teachers as well. If you are interested let me know and I will give you an account.

Anne Davis said...

I love this! Thanks so much for sharing. I have always had kids read other blogs but this would be a great way to give them more time and to have other teachers see the value. I'm going to pass this around to teachers who would not think of this but I know would be willing to give it a try. Your statement "So much is made of young kids creating content, that I think it's real easy to overlook the positive aspects of young kids consuming content - created by their peers - and who knows who else?" gives us much to think about! You are doing some remarkable work with your third greaders. Add these blogicians to your students' blog reading lists: http://itc.blogs.com/minds
That is the class blog and student links are on the side! Thanks for a great post - we are reshaping reading, writing, and publishing in our classrooms daily!

Anne

Karen Janowski said...

Mark,
Awesome! I love it when you said, "the class was the quietest and most focused I had seen in a long time." All you did was challenge SSR assumptions and allow thinking outside the box. That translates to engagement, fun and learning! And isn't that our role as educators, to facilitate learning?

lchai2014 said...

This is a really cool way of being able to read during D.E.A.R time because all the kids get to read about different things going around all over the world.

quincy said...

I think tat kids my age (10-11) will enjoy reading on the computer. Most teenagers live on the the Internet, and when parents learn that they are reading and learning they will let them use it more. this may be the future, but there still will be nothing that can replace curling up and reading a book.

Quincy(a American in shanghai)

RolandOD said...

Mark, Great idea. I work with schools on content literacy and I know many do SSR and am going to pass this post along to some of them. I wonder if there is a way to track the blogs that the students access to create a map of how the connections spread and how the learning community network developed. If you are interested in this kind of concept let me know I'ld love to explore the idea with you. I think it would be incredibly interesting to the students to see how their blogging experiences expanced.

Tom Turner said...

Wonderful Idea! Will be sharing this with my teachers/administration as well!

Wesley Fryer said...

Mark: I think our adult pre-disposition to value non-digital texts more than digital texts comes from our own educational experiences. Great to read you are getting beyond that! I certainly am engaged with digital texts much more than analog texts, so it shouldn't be a surprise that kids are and can be as well. Thanks for not only providing these literacy development opportunities for your students but also sharing your journey with all of us! Digital SSR. I love it! Now this makes me think I need to write some blog posts that might appeal more to 3rd graders! :-) Have any of the students figured out how to use the "listen to this blog post" link yet?!

Anonymous said...

Mark, this is an excellent idea. As a junior high teacher in the Innercities of Miami, Florida and Peoria, Illinois I always struggled with silent sustained reading. Students were very reluctant to do this. The books were irrelevant to thier lives and frankly, boring at times. Finding blogs that innercity youth might find interesting might be challenging but it is definitely worth exploring. Thanks for your work.
Val Walker

Aundrea said...

its not Aundrea this is Tina from room 12 reading group i really want to talk in to that thing again!!!!!!!!

Dingwall Primary said...

Great idea! Perhaps your kids would like to take a look at the stories and poems on our writing blog -
www.dingwallwriting.wordpress.com

We are a large primary school in Scotland -the stories are by pupils aged 8 - 11 -and we would love to think our work was being read by pupils across the world!

Kristin said...

I just love this idea! I teach 7th grade, and silent reading can be a real struggle at times, but this I can see would really get the kids into reading because they will all be able to find something they're interested in. This is what we, as teachers, hope to spark in our students--a true passion for reading, or at the very least an interest. I will be trying this year maybe once every week or two. Anyone have thoughts on if that's too much or not enough?

Catherine Vivian said...

I think this is a great idea too. With only 2 computers in my classroom, it will take some rostering but I know I have children in my class who will love reading blogs for USSR, their own and others. I'm just beginning to add other blogs as links in my own class one: cvivian.edublogs.org

April W. TIP said...

Fantastic idea. I would never have thought about this. I think too this is great way to increase their awareness of multiple sources of reading. That reading doesn't just involve a book. A mixture of this and traditional silent reading would be a great mix. Thanks for the idea!

Christina said...

So, A year later how do you feel about your addition to SSR? Did it work? How did the kids like it? What types of blogs did they read? Were they allowed to post on them? Do you think your readers who were not so motivated became motivated?
Did any want to pick up a chapte book because of something they had read on another blog? I am a third grade teacher currently taking a master's class on intergrating tech anf literacy- I would be interested in hearing more about how this worked for you and if you are still doing it?

Duane said...

I too would love to hear how you feel about SSR 2.0 over a year later. Has the novelty worn off? Do they still plug in to reading on a computer? I feel this is a great way to expose them to the massive world of web 2.0. Has interest in traditional reading increased or decreased since you implemented this project. Please give us all the feed back you can.
Thanks!

Jennifer Grady said...

Wow, this is great! I teach Reading and would love to be able to do something like this in my classroom. I am constantly looking for interesting things for my kids to read. They are bored with the same old stuff. Thanks for the great idea!!

SSR said...

Hi Mark - Good to see what you are dooing for those kids! keep up the good work!

sporter said...

Mark, I have always said that kids are reading but not in the traditional sense we give credit for. I have seen kids reading some pretty technical game manuals. Good for you for recognizing this reading and being wise to allow them to read blogs and other student-created works.

holly said...

Great idea!
I teach second grade and the children would love this as a center option for silent reading. Thanks for the insight!

Deborah said...

Thanks for this idea. I also find that it is challenging for kids to sit down and read. Children love the computer and this incorporates both. Do you have any ideas for children that are younger than your students?

Tracy said...

Getting some kids to sit and read is difficult. What a great idea! It only makes sense that kids are going to want to read what their peers have written. Whatever it takes to get them reading!

A.Lamb said...

Wow! I have never thought about allowing kids to read blogs during DEAR time. I love to read books, but it is not for everyone. Thanks for opening us up to a new way of thinking

J said...

As a high school teacher, I ahve to admit it is hard for me to flex my own paradigm and shift into the digital reading mind, however my students are all about the internet. I am about to introduce my own blog, and after reading your article it would be great to have some structured class time to look at different blogs!

Gina Ripley said...

I love this idea so much that my wheels are already turning as to how to make it work in my 6th grade classroom of 33 kids with 7 computers.....

Cathy Bolton said...

Awesome idea! I am always telling my parents and students to read at home...read anything, anywhere, and at anytime. I plan to incorporate this reading style and activity into my 6th grade classes. Thanks for the fantastic idea.

Cath-

Anonymous said...

Great idea!!! As we speak I am texting this to the english teacher, she will be excited to use these ideas.

Dawn said...

This is a fantastic idea and I will be sure to pass this along to my colleagues. Reading seems to be a struggle even with the young children. I notice when we have quiet time to look at books the children become easily bored and distracted. I'm not sure if this is because they are not reading with their parents at home or if they are not stimulated enough.

Dawn said...

This is a great idea! I love it.
I will be sure to pass this along.

Kimsey said...

Hi Mark,
Just browsing and came upon this. What a great idea! I love how this new concept can get kids excited about reading again! They get a new perspective and outlook on others thoughts and ideas!

Deborah said...

Thanks for this idea. I also find that it is challenging for kids to sit down and read. Children love the computer and this incorporates both. Do you have any ideas for children that are younger than your students?

Robert Michek said...

Mark,

Having the children read blogs from other children their age is a great learning tool for the following reasons:

- It lets kids read about "what" other kids their age have to say. An 8-year old child in Boise, Idaho thinks a lot like an 8-year old child in Atlanta, Georgia. O.K. - other than geographical differences, these children think alike.

- Reading another child's blog entry is just another way of providing children with another great way to read! Social networking is here to stay (for now), and while it is hot, and the "in" thing, getting kids to read is challenging.

I'm a musician. I would rather read a blog about a genre of music, written by a musician, than reading a blog written by an English Major on the same topic.

An 8-year old is more than likely to be interested in reading a blog from another 8-year old. This is a great way to start online social networking between two schools that may be hundreds of miles away!

The content of the 8-year olds blog is "appropriate" for another 8-year old. Kids are growing up way too fast these days. Keeping kids within their age is probably a good start, and very appropriate.

I would designate time each week for kids to go online and read as part of my curriculum.

Currently, I teach Music in a private, middle school in Atlanta. I think that I may start an inner school blog allowing students to discuss musical concepts, or music that they like. I will provide the appropriate topics, and let the kids roll with it.

For now, starting it up in my school would be a great start! From there, I can start looking for other schools to start networking with.

Thanks for your inspiration!!!!

You can contact me at rmichek@davisacademy.org if you wish to further communicate!!!!

jill said...

I am a reading specialist and love your creative idea of blending SSR with technology. What a great way to motivate the students to read! I still think that no type of technology can replace curling up with a book and turning the pages, but I think that the most important thing is to get the students reading. I think teachers could easily incorporate this into their students' regular reading routines by taking their class to the computer lab for DEAR time once or twice a week. This can even be tied into reading comprehension and writing by having the students write their own blog or comment on other blogs. They could also write a summary of a site they visited. Do you regulate the websites blogs that the students' visit and do you provide them with a list of suggested sites? It would be great if you could post a list of current blogs that your students enjoy reading. Thanks!

Jay said...

Hi Mark,

I told my fiance and a lot of my fellow teachers about your program SSR 2.0. I like that they have a choice on what they woukd kike to read and what format, and I LOVE the quite.

Jay

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corriendo said...

What a great inspirational motivator as I begin teaching third grade for the first time. I can't wait to introduce this as an option!!

Victoria said...

Thank you for sharing!! I love the idea of students having choice in what they read. I have ever considered the option of blogs as a great read. Thanks!

Dissertation Writing said...

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Sheryl Rabinowitz said...

This certainly shows how children of the 21st century are learning. Anything on a computer catches their attention. So if this is how we need to adjust our teaching, so be it.

Becca Morris said...

Love this! Thank you for sharing. I am going to put this in practice in my classroom next year.

~Becca
Fun is Found in Fourth
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