Thursday, June 25, 2015

Struggling Readers and Book Clubs

It seems like lately all I post about on my blog is for linky parties or challenges.  I do have to say it does motivate me to write more posts especially if I get comments. But it is not the real reason I started this blog, that was to share my classroom ideas.

In my classroom, I try to motivate kids to read and to read a lot.  Practice makes perfect right?  In fourth grade it can be magical!  Just think for a lot of the kids, fourth grade is the year that they read a novel (chapter book) for the first time all by their self without Mom or Dad reading to them or with them.  It may be the first time they actual finish a novel by themselves! I know you always have those higher readers that love to read and have been reading books forever and I LOVE those kids.  But I mean the average to lower kids who struggle or just hate to read.  Now to see that light turn on to reading,  that is the reason I LOVE to teach.

Here is a few things I do during my class to motivate and support those types of readers.

1.  This is number one, I am extremely enthusiastic about reading.   I read with my classes and during independent reading.  I talk about books I am reading or my own children are reading (because I read everything my own children read) and bring them in for kids to read.  I challenge the kids to read 40 books and I also do that challenge during the school year.  I take AR quizzes with the kids on books we are reading in our book clubs or on books I have read. I read books the kids recommend to me and talk to them about those books.  I also model what good readers do, how and why I read and the variety of types of reading materials I read.

2.  I give one class period  a week totally devoted to independent reading.  I usually like to conference with the kids at that time but sometimes I also read during that time. Model, model, model! Kids learn so much by watching those around them.

3.  I have even picked a kid that is really struggling but is almost there and read a book with them.  I have the student pick a book they would like to read and I get the same book and we form a mini book club.  I let the student chose how much they will read each day and I read that section with them and the next day we discuss what happened in the story.  When it comes time to taking the AR quiz, I am right there with them taking it too. It is a trick I have used with my own children with great success.

4. During my book clubs (my version of literature circles), I have audio books that the groups take turns listening to.  I have 2 ipads and my phone which I download audio books from the library (free) or I purchase from Amazon or Audible.  Audible is a $14.95 membership that you can download one audio book per month.  The first book is free.

 Since my book clubs usually have between 4 - 6 kids I use a headphone splitter that has 5 ports that the kids can plug their ear buds into. Sometimes we have to share ear buds to get the entire book club on. The kids then listen to the section for the day while reading along.  Nothing is sweeter then hearing a group bust out laughing because of a part in their book.   Since I only have 3 devices and I usually have 4 - 6 book clubs going we take turns each day using the audio books.  The groups that are not listening to the audio book either read out load together, in partners or silently.

 The kids get very passionate about their day to listen to the audio version of their book club book.  They love it!  I have read, that listening to a book while reading it can increase comprehension by 50%.  I definitely have seen those test score increase after using audio books.

By doing this I am supporting my struggling readers without the rest of the class knowing it and for those that are below grade level they can read a more challenging text.  My fourth graders hate being treated like a baby and reading what they consider "big kids'" books I am able to boost their self confidence in the process.  I also recommend to parents to get audio books with the actual book so the kids can read at home. The trick is they need to do both, read and listen to the book at the same time.   I have seen tremendous growth in my students' Star scores.  The best part is when I hear one of my kids say, "I actually like to read now after this year!"

Next post I am going to reflect on what I am going to do new next year to up the ante in my reading classes.  I have some great ideas brewing!

Have a great week and happy reading,



  1. Thanks for the great ideas! I taught 4th grade this year after being in 5th grade for many years. Do you have any books that you would recommend?

  2. Realistic fiction - Library Card (might be under mysteries), Stargirl, Mystery - Bunnicula, Westing Games, Historical Fiction - Bud Not Buddy, Number the Stars, The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Whole Class Reads - The Best Christmas Pageant Ever & James and the Giant Peach, Biography - Who is / Was books. There is more I just can't think of them all. My do a post about them:)

    Have a great summer,

  3. After 22 years teaching first graders, I am switching to 5th grade this year. I am thrilled that I found your blog! Thank you for sharing such awesome ideas to get our students to love reading! I look forward to reading your next post! Thank you for sharing your expertise!
    Tammy P

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