Teaching Tips

Reading Circles: Reading for Accountability

Happy International Reading Day!  Since it is international reading day, I thought today’s Tuesday Teaching Tip should be about literacy, but more specifically, a reading strategy.

Reading is in integral part of our courses.  Many discussions or classroom activities cannot happen unless the students complete the reading.   I find that my students are reading and writing every day, but they do not always realize why they are reading and writing.  These skills have become a mundane and automated task almost without purpose.  In school they’re told to read “x” amount of pages and write “x” number of words, but they do not always understand the purpose behind the activity.  So they do not always complete the assignments, or if they do, they don’t go into depth.

Outside of class and requirements, students are constantly reading and writing.  Whether they’re writing an email or text or reading on Facebook, students are engaged with text.  So how do we get them to transfer these skills from a social arena to an academic one?  How do we help them realize that their consistent use of literacy skills can transfer to the academic world?

Mark Twain said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” This quote reminds me of the importance of reading and writing as a means of communicating and learning.  By explicitly providing opportunities for students to focus on their reading, we are encouraging students to dig more into the text.

In the classroom, one way to get students engaged in their reading is to hold them accountable amongst their peers.  Reading circles are based on Harvey Daniel’s Literature Circles, but they were renamed by Jane Gee since her undergraduate courses do not always contain literature.   Jane Gee explains that reading circles allow students to know their reading and writing purpose, to focus their attention on one task (their specific “job”), and to interact in a small group setting.  For specific roles and how she manages her Reading Circles, make sure to check out her blog here.

If you have other reading strategies that you found helped engage students, then please comment on them below.  Happy International Literacy Day!

One thought on “Reading Circles: Reading for Accountability

  1. I have found this to be so true. My students are much more likely to read and be prepared for class when they know the activity in class depends on their efforts. It’s funny how easy it is for us to assume that the meaning and purpose of the readings is obvious to students. I’m definitely working on being more transparent with my students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *