This post is about convincing heritage speakers that independent reading is important
Yesterday, the second true day of instruction, we started our heritage speakers class looking at the books that we have in our class library. Each student had a book that they inspected for a minute and then took notes about whether they were interested in reading it. After circulating the books for 20 minutes each student had a list of twenty different books with notes about their interest. They passed those interest lists in to me, and I am looking at them to help me make recommendations when needed.
Today we started with ten minutes of silent reading. My heritage class period is normally divided into thirds: one third for reading, one third for either academic instruction or speaking games, and one third in which we dissect the novela that we are watching together. I think it is fair to say that most kids are not sold on the reading yet, but they do politely open the books when asked. While I still have goodwill I need to convince them that silent reading is important!
After reading they completed their reading log entry (you can download my reading log form here). They did not know that there was accountability and some were quickly going back to actually read when I passed out the reading logs. When they finished writing they returned the books and passed in the logs. I read the logs every day after school, take notes on words or phrases that I need to write on the board whenever I use them so they can see the spelling, write comments when needed (not often), and then I stamp the forms so that they can see that I have read them when I give them back the next day. By the end of the week I give a grade based on completion, so the reading log gets kids who missed class to come to a lunchtime reading session before the end of the week.
The academic part of class was supposedly a spelling lesson: the day before we spoke about what they want out of this course and students overwhelmingly said that their spelling was bad. This lesson supposedly was about words that begin with H, but really I want to communicate that the most effective way to develop good spelling skills is not through word lists but rather through extensive reading. Click on the picture above and you’ll see that we brainstormed words that begin with H in the middle board, and words that were suggested but do not begin with H were written out on the side boards. I then asked them how they knew that these words begin with H? Do people ever say “I’d like some horchata with an H”? Of course not. I then suggested that they must have learned to spell all of these words through reading.
I then paraphrased a quote from Krashen, emphasizing that this common sense conclusion that we learn to spell through reading is supported by the research of some very intelligent people. I am going to drive this point home over and over again throughout the next few weeks so that they understand that our independent reading at the beginning of class is doing them a lot of good. Right now they need a reason to read… they want to please me, but I know that the honeymoon phase of the class will end sooner than later. Hopefully by that time I will have convinced them that pleasure reading is important, and with a little luck they’ll be having such a good time with their books that they won’t care!