Activities and Lessons
for Homework and Family Involvement

Reading at Home & Sharing
~ Jan Goularte

For me, reading logs didn't work. Kids wrote down things they did not read, and parents often signed-off without even checking to see if the child read the material listed. It was a "school game" - something done for school because we have to. Instead, I had children read for a minimum of 30 minutes every night (3rd grade) and they met with a partner the first thing in the morning to talk about what they read. My goal was to get kids to love to read. No written work, no grades. They did not have the same partner everyday, but instead just chose someone when they walked into the classroom. They had 10 minutes to find a partner and discuss what they read. At times I would have to help someone find a partner, but not very often. I would listen in on discussions, and ask a question once in a while -but it was purely share what you are reading. They were encouraged to make notes as they read so they wouldn't forget what they wanted to talk about (I assured them I would often forget if I didn't have notes -sometimes just a character's name and 1 word to remind me).

After the 10 minutes we would gather at the carpet for sharing. I would randomly choose someone (names on cards) and I would have them tell the class what their partner had to say today. This taught them to really listen to what their partner was saying. I would choose 2 or 3 students to share, and an additional student if someone was dying to say something.
Great things that happened... kids got excited about reading! They formed book groups (2-4 kids reading the same book and meeting in the morning to talk about it). They read books that other students had talked about. Most (about 14 of 18) kept some kind of notes -I had provided a spiral journal for each student.

I did provide a list of "Thinking About Reading" ideas for discussion (glued onto the inside front cover of their journal) and parents were thankful, and used them with their child. The students used the list often in the morning during discussion time. This was the only homework and the parents knew that.

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