The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 17

classroom, teachers need to meet the expected evidence-based approaches in the classroom with fidelity, teachers should self-monitor to make sure the practices are effective, and be willing to change to a different practice if it is not working (Greenwood, Tapia, Abbott, & Walton (2003). It is believed that teacher enthusiasm and willingness to allow for student self-selection of books can help to build a positive learning environment for independent reading. Johnson (2001) said this, “Students never engage with a book in the same way, so why should each assignment be the same? If I give them choices they can pick which one they can best succeed with” (p. 26).

Survey of Teachers’ Perceptions

Last year one second grade team began implementing independent silent reading as part of a balanced literacy approach in their classrooms. During grade-level meetings it became clear that each teacher was bringing different perspectives, ideas, and classroom instruction to the implementation of independent silent reading in their classrooms. During team discussions teachers discussed the purpose of independent silent reading, what independent silent reading looked like in the classroom, how much choice students should have in choosing books to be read, and what types of assignments, if any, should be attached to independent silent reading. The grade-level team agreed that their job was to build a love of reading inside and outside of school and to be excited about independent silent reading for their students’ sake.

The purpose of this study was to examine these teachers’ perceptions of the impact of a grade-level emphasis on independent silent reading in eight second grade classrooms within the same school district. Eight second grade teachers in one school in southwest Missouri completed a voluntary and anonymous survey through surveymonkey.com where they were asked their perceptions of the importance of independent silent reading.

Based on the survey responses of these teachers, all eight teachers implemented independent reading every day. They each allowed a minimum of 15 minutes a day to 45 minutes of independent reading time usually in the mornings. Two teachers indicated that afternoons were the times that worked best for them.

It appears the teachers valued independent reading and believed that their own attitudes did influence their students’ views of reading. Interestingly, half of the teachers talked about the importance of the love of reading. One teacher stated, “If the teacher shows that reading is important, students will see it as important and develop a love for reading,” while another said, “I love to read and I make sure my students know it!” A third teacher stated, “I feel like independent reading time holds great value to my students, not only in skills but in developing a love of reading,” and another said, “student gained stamina and a love for reading through independent reading time.”

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Growing Lifelong

Readers

E-mail sent by one of the authors:

Seventeen years ago I had an article published in The Missouri Reader titled “A Night to Remember: The Night I Knew They’d Be Readers” where I talked about an incident when I knew that both of my sons would grow up to be readers. My oldest son who is 28 years old now sent me a text with the attached picture of his cat resting its head on the book while he read. They did grow up to be readers.

Dr. Beth Hurst

Professor, Reading/Literacy

Missouri State University