A limiting factor in the development of reading skills in students and an impediment to classroom management for teachers is the ability of children to read independently for significant periods of time. A valuable strategy to deal with both issues is increasing reading stamina.
Building reading stamina supports students to read for an extended time, trains muscle memory and supports an increased attention.
Teaching a procedure for independent reading enables students to read without direct supervision, enabling the teacher to work with a group (teach), or work with a student (teach, monitor or assess). Roles and responsibilities of the teacher and students can be clearly outlined for students on a T-Chart.
Both the student and teacher have responsibilities in the process. Students:
- Collect enough books
- Sit … (at my desk/on my own/etc.)
- Start reading right away
- Read the whole time
- Think about what I’m reading
Teacher responsibilities include:
That is, working with a student or working with a group.
How to build reading stamina
- Set a purpose for the reading. Explain how practice reading helps us to become better readers. Support students to make a chart which may contain some or all of the following prompts for improving reading:
- My phrasing and fluency supports meaning making and sounds like talking.
- I use the punctuation to regulate reading phrasing and fluency.
- I adapt the pitch, tone, stress and volume of my voice to match meaning.
- I problem solve quickly and efficiently.
- I self-correct if needed.
- I think about meaning.
- Teach for a procedure (above) which outlines student and teacher responsibilities.
- Start with a manageable time for all students (i.e. a time which can be achieved by all students).
- Instruct students to follow the procedure for independent reading for the designated time. Monitor.
- Gather students together. Invite discussion (paired/group/class) about the reading. Provide feedback on the application of the procedure. Troubleshoot where needed.
- Gradually extend the reading time and continue to monitor.
- Continue to share, provide feedback and troubleshoot as reading time continues to increase and reading stamina grows. Begin to gradually withdraw perceived supervision to build independence.
- When students are able to sustain the reading for the desired time, begin taking guided reading or guided reading/reciprocal teaching. Independent reading then provides another option for supporting independent learning.
Immediate benefits for students and teachers
Feedback from a teacher at one of our recent workshops demonstrates the quick and valuable gains that can be made using this strategy.
I attended your Toowoomba session last Thursday (26 April) and yesterday tried stamina reading with my 2/3 class. I did as you suggested and discussed the importance of reading and used that verse about the more you read the better you get etc, talked about what good readers do and then did the T chart ‘my job your job’. I allowed them to choose 2 books – their home reader and a guided reader from their box.
When I asked the children how long they thought that they could do it for 1 child said half an hour (and he probably could have) and some others said 10 or 15 minutes. They were really confident about being able to do it. We settled on 5 minutes to start with.
It was lovely to see every head down reading for the whole time. We shared something we read with a partner at the end. After complimenting the class on their great reading with stamina I asked them if they had enjoyed it and all said they had because it was so easy to concentrate on their reading.
Thank you for this great idea for making the most of independent reading time.
Regards Donna (Donna Gray, Highfields State School, 3rd May)
Fact sheet and workshops
The Reading Stamina Fact Sheet can be downloaded and used as a guide to the implementation of Reading Stamina in the classroom. A more in-depth examination and discussion of this topic is a component of the following professional development workshops.
- Reading Stamina (online short course)
- P-3 Reading in the Australian Curriculum
- Prep Reading & Writing
Have you implemented reading stamina in your classroom / school? What was the impact? We’d love to hear your comments!