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Thank you so much to everyone for their responses to this question.  I had
many requests for a HIT.   Following is my original post, the responses I
received, and some resources (related past LM_NET threads and web links) I
found useful on reading strategies.
By the way, the number one recommended reference was Stephen Krashen's _The
Power of Reading_

Michelle Walker

Our school has formed a Reading Committee just to deal with the issue of
improving reading skills.  We are looking for strategies, programs, ideas,
professional development topics, etc.

A little background: We have a very motivated committee, a staff used to
trying new techniques, and a staff development program that gives us
two-three hours of staff development time EVERY Friday. We have a block
schedule with ~100 minute periods.  The majority of our students come from
homes where the primary language spoken is Spanish.

We are working with two consultants to help us develop strategies, but I
know you all have a wealth of information to share, and I'm hoping you'll
take a little time to do so.

FYI- We are NOT considering AR, RC, or other automated reading programs.

We will most definitely be implementing some type of program that allows
more SSR time with reading materials of the students' choice. We're not
sure if we should set a specific time every day where no matter what class
they are in, they DEAR; if we should give the first 10-15 minutes of every
class to DEAR, or if we just have SSR in English class for a longer period
of time.  Would love your thoughts on this.

With SSR, is it best to just allow fiction reading, or should students be
allowed to bring magazines, newspapers, or non-fiction?

I would love to hear how other schools are using SSR, DEAR, or other
strategies to improve reading at the high school level.

By the way--There is a pot of money left from a school-to-work grant that
is sunsetting this year.  Originally the $ was to go to new technology, but
the tide has turned and it now looks as if we'll use most of this money for
reading materials -- both in the library and in classrooms -


My opinion on SSR is that nonfiction is alright.  Studies have shown that
boys become better readers when they are allowed to read nonfiction books
instead of being forced to read fiction.


One of our areas identified for NCA accreditation was reading.  We have
implemented SSR at the high school level this year.  We do ten minutes, 2x
weekly, first hour, in ALL classes.  We have also encouraged teachers,
parapros, administration and support staff to read during this time.  We
decided against newspapers strictly because of the noise factor in turning,
folding the pages.  As a general rule we require a book to be read, although
some allowances have been made for spec ed.  Our concern with the magazines
was that students would spend their time looking at pictures, reading
advertisements/catalogues instead of actually reading.

Thank you so much for your reply.  Just curious:  does the 10 minutes
reading time work well for you?   We're debating time limits, and I was
concerned that it might not be quite enough time for sittings.  Seems like
it takes me a few minutes just to settle in, reconnect with where I left
off in my reading and take off again.  Do you seem satisfied with the 10
minute time period?

That has been some of the criticism.  We have left it flexible to work with
the individual teacher/class style.  Our English teachers have actually been
the most resistant simply because they already do so much reading.  Some
classes the students enjoy the break from the subject and look forward to
the break.  A government teacher has her students do choice reading (from a
list) one day a week already, so we count that as their ssr.  Other teachers
may choose to do 20 minutes one day a week instead of 10 2x.  There has been
some grumbling, but I have had three students tell me they have never used
the library before and that they enjoyed the books.  Some other anecdotal
feedback has been that students who are reading for pleasure (not assigned
English books) are more likely to then pick up their books when they are
finished with their class assignments.  Other students do strictly read only
the ten minutes, never enjoy it, and give negative feedback.  But the
research points to time spent reading!  Hope this helps.  I would love to
know how it goes if you implement something like this.  It would be great to
compare notes.

Sorry I didn't include this in my last e-mail.  There is an article in the
Educational Leadership Journal (10/01) by Steve Gardner titled "Ten Minutes
a Day for Silent Reading".  You may find this helpful.  Rachelle


Below are some of the titles I selected for our professional collection.
Many are available through NCTE. Our school has concentrated on content
area literacy throughout the curriculum. All teachers were trained on
strategies such as reciprocal reading and literature circles. The
highlighted titles are the most useful for staff development. Reading for
Understanding is the most comprehensive. If you would like to talk with any
of our staff let me know.

Call Number Information

1.      371.39'5 D Daniels, Harvey, 1947- Literature circles : voice and
choice in the student-centered classroom.   York, Me. : Stenhouse
Publishers, c1994.   A teacher's guide to literature circles, discussing
what they are, offering advice on how to start literature circles in
primary through college classrooms, and providing information on management
problems, variations, and relating the reading groups to other areas of

2.      372.64 S Samway, Katharine Davies and Gail Whang. Literature study
circles in a multicultural classroom/.   U.S.A.: Stenhouse, 1996.

3.      428.007 R When they don't all speak English : integrating the ESL
student into the regular classroom.   Urbana, Ill. : National Council of
Teachers of English, c1989.   Provides principles about language learners
and language learning for teachers of K-12 students.

4.      PL 371.73 KIN Kinsella, Kate Reading in the content areas :
Strategies for reading success - level C.   Upper Saddle River, New Jersey
: Globe Fearon, Inc., c2000.

5.      PL 373.1 CAL Strategic teaching and learning : standards-based
instruction to promote content literacy in grades four through
twelve.   Sacramento, CA : California Department of Education, c 2000.

6.      PL 373.1829 DES DeStigter, Todd, 1961- Reflections of a citizen
teacher : literacy, democracy, and the forgotten students of Addison
High.   Urbana, Ill. : National Council of Teachers of English, c2001.

7.      PL 375 CA California Reading Association. What good teachers do to
help literacy happen : by California reading association.

8.      PL 428.0071 JAG Jago, Carol, 1951- Beyond standards : excellence in
the high school English classroom.   Portsmouth, NH : Boynton/Cook,
c2001.   Describes strategies English teachers can use to foster excellent
student performance at the high school level, and shares examples from the
author's own experiences in the classroom.

9.      PL 428.4 ALL Allen, Janet, 1950- It's never too late : leading
adolescents to lifelong literacy.   Portsmouth, NH : Heinemann,
c1995.   Chronicles the teaching experiences of Janet Allen, and gives
suggestions for helping students who are considered "at risk" learn to like
school and take an active role in creating their own curriculum.

10.     PL 428.4 ERI Teaching reading in high school English
classes.   Urbana, IL : National Council of Teachers of English,
c2001.   Contains ten essays that offer suggestions to teachers on how to
teach reading in high school English classes, addressing the varying needs
for reading instruction among high school students.

11.     PL 428.4 REA Readence, John E., 1947- Content area literacy : an
integrated approach.   Dubuque, Iowa : Kendall/Hunt Pub., c2001.

12.     PL 428.4 SCH Reading for understanding : a guide to improving
reading in middle and high school classrooms.   San Francisco : Jossey-Bass
Publishers, c1999.   Describes a reading apprenticeship approach for
getting middle and high school students interested in reading and improving
their comprehension, focusing on academic literacy.

13.     VC 372.4 DAN Daniels, Harvey Looking into literature
circles.   Portland, ME : Stenhouse Publishers, c2001.


There is a book called Reading for Understanding which has an entire curriculum
. It is by Ruth Schoenbach, Cynthia Greenleaf et al. I highly recommend it. It
is presently used in California. The ISBN is 0787950459


We had a DEAR program one year, but we didn't have 100% teacher buy-in.  (At
times I'm not sure it was more than the language arts department teachers!
Grrr!!)  We had books and magazines available in all classrooms including
PE.  During the summer before the program was instituted, I was given
authorization by my principal to hit thrift stores and used book stores for
books.  (I needed the authorization, so the district would reimburse me.)
If you have any thrift stores or used book stores in your area or within
driving distance (I drove to the Phoenix area which is 45-60 minutes away),
it will be well worth someone's time.  Check with your staff and see if you
have someone who frequents these kinds of stores-- most likely a reading or
language arts teacher.  This will help whatever monies you have go much
further, and you don't feel so bad when the books walk off, which they will

As I said the program didn't fly here, but next year the school's focus is
on reading.  We are instituting a reading elective for students who is
reading level is  2 or more grade levels below.  We will have over 1/3 of
our students in these classes.  As a result we have dropped several
electives and this has caused much heartburn for certain staff members.
Additionally some teachers will be teaching different subjects next year,
etc., etc.  I am glad that you are at a school where there is "a staff used
to trying new techniques, and a staff development program that gives us
two-three hours of staff development time EVERY Friday."  Count your


I don't know how your school is set up, but my daughter is a senior in high
school and she walks to the elementary campus to read aloud as a reading
buddy with little ones.  She has read one on one with children, and also to
an entire classroom.  They both benefit and it provides the sr. high kids
with the idea of reading aloud to children so perhaps they will continue
when they have their own children.

My daughter is an excellent reader, she does this as part of her community
volunteer work.   I've had 6th graders read aloud to my first graders when
I taught first grade.  Although my students were reading on a first grade
level, their listening comprehension was around 7th grade (Jim Trelease's
Read Aloud Handbook).  The little ones LOVE the big kids coming and
reading, the big kids get strokes and reading practice (they could use
chapter books also) and everyone benefits.

We also have a school in our community where community leaders adopt an
elementary classroom and come read 30 minutes every Wednesday.  The teacher
provides the books.  One man has read Hank the Cowdog, others have read
Junie B. Jones, Ramona the Pest, James and the Giant Peach, and other
favorites.  The kids really enjoy that program and look forward to their
special reader.

This is just a drop in your bucket, and maybe not at all feasible, but it
helps the lower level kids get in a little extra practice and inspires the
younger ones.

Jim Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook and video would be excellent for your
staff development.


Look at the IRA site on the Web.  What grade level?  Check for Barbara
Taylor's work, also Michael and Bonnie Graves with scaffolding.  The
Handbook of Reading Research should help, as will things from the NAtional
Council of Teachers of English.  The journal Reading Research Quarterly and
The Reading Teacher also have suggestions.  A college librry should have both.


Sorry you're not considering RC.  It really helped turn our kids into
readers.  We did other things too.  The first year of our big reading push
we had a word a day on the pa and a book a day.  All teachers wrote the word
for the day on their boards and English teachers worked with the words. Each
department had a week or two of words and teachers read them and sentences
over the pa. Last year we had a full year contest for the school to read a
million pages.  Kicked off with an assembly and finished with a whole school
picnic.  We used some of our grant money to pay teachers for hours to
contact businesses to provide prizes and incentives.  We printed the
businesses names on banners and put up on gym walls during bb season.  We
also listed names in parent newsletter. This year we added ssr once a week
and we bought some interesting books for each classroom--3 per room.  All
with short, fun stuff for kids who might finish a book or forget one.  Also
reading 1 book outside of class was added as a requirement for all English
classes.  We are not doing all the prize stuff this year, but are awarding
book store gift certificates to the top reader in each class and putting up
a plaque outside the library with top 2 readers and pages read for each
school year.  SSR is really better every day.  There is a good book on
research on SSR in secondary settings available from Amazon.  If you can't
find the title write me back and I'll check in my catalog.


Michelle - When I have read research articles in which the author asked
middle grade students what would make them read they said two things: 1.
Time in the school day to read. Their schedules are so hectic that they may
be unable to read once they leave school. 2. They liked the teacher reading
to them. They did not like round robin reading or listening to other
students read. Students also need access to books - and many of them - on
lots of topics that interest them (this is very important). Hope this helps
in some small way. Congrats on being able to spend tech money on reading.
Yes, I also  believe that the tide is turning.


Another LM_Netter put me in touch with an LMT in southern Indiana where
they have a very successful, award-winning reading program.  They have
built in an extra 20 minutes into their first period, and that 20 minutes
is devoted to SSR.  All teachers are expected to be reading during this
time, and the principal reads in different locations and classrooms.  Every
classroom has a classroom library (funds came from a state grant).  They
cite Stephen Krashen's Power of Reading as the reference they've based
their practices on.  They also have book clubs for both teachers and


Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SSR & DEAR as well as many
other programs and reading strategies

LM_NET HITs Sustained Silent Reading at High School Level

Strategic Reading Course

Department of Education Link to Reading Resources

"Improving the Reading Skills of Adolescents."  Educational Leadership

Michelle Walker, Librarian / Technology Coordinator
Hamilton Union High School
Hamilton Union Elementary School
P.O. Box 488 / Hwy 32 & Canal Street
Hamilton City, CA  95951
(530) 826-3261

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