My colleague, Mónica Romero (follow her at @elespanolmola) posted on Twitter an image of the total number of Spanish novels her level 1 students had read. I was intrigued. That’s not something I have done. So I asked her to write a short post about it. I hope you enjoy it. How are you encouraging and celebrate your students’ reading?
Last February we started FVR with novels in Spanish 1 and, since then, we have been reading 3 times per week for about 8-10 minutes each day. On the first day, I communicated to students the expectations and I also showed them, and talked briefly about, each of the books displayed. There are about 30 different titles. Students follow the routine marvelously as soon as they walk into the classroom and they see the FVR sign on the Smartboard and the classical music playing.
During FVR, we all read. Myself included!
It has been a very successful experience! Students are enjoying reading. They like to be able to choose what they read. I have students who come right at the beginning of passing period to grab the book they like before someone else does. (Yes, I need to get more of those popular titles!). There are a few students who are already reading during the passing period time; and others who have shared that this year they have read more books in Spanish than in English – Awesome!
I sometimes group students by the book they were currently reading so that they can discuss it. However, students told me that they did not like this way because some of them were ahead in the reading and they spoiled the book for them. I really smiled when I heard that because it was more proof that they were enjoying reading their book.
Occasionally, I ask them to write a report that I have adapted from this great one from Bryce Hedstrom But, overall, I do not make FVR a stressful time for them. When one student finishes a book, we make a big deal about it. We congratulate the student and applaud, and I ask the student to share with the class whether they would recommend the book or not and why.
Since I am very proud of the work my students are doing during FVR I wanted to come up with a way to display in the room their big accomplishment. I made a simple, very simple, board with 5 columns (one per period) to track the books they have read. For each book they have read, each student writes on a post-it note their name and the book title and they post it on the board that corresponds to their class’ period.
I was worried about students who are reading at a slower pace; I did not want anyone to feel embarrassed about not having their name in the board. So, I told student that since we all read “Las aventuras de Isabela” as a class in first trimester, they could write that book if they wanted. Some of them did and I think that helped them to feel better.
My first intention with this reading board was not to have a reading contest. However, my students suggested that idea in every period so I have supported it! So now we are having a reading contest to see what hour is the one that reads the most by the end of May.
Most of the students have already read, or are close to having read, two books. Some students have read three, and a few of them have already read four or more books!
Last Thursday, I asked students if they notice any difference when they read now. The majority commented that they feel an improvement; they get to read more pages in the same amount of time, it is easier to understand, and they do not use, or they use less, the book’s glossary.
I am aware that the impact of FVR in the language is something that will take more than just a couple of months. However, I think that the emotional impact can be noticed much sooner. During our ritual of FVR students experience and build success. There is also a positive energy that emanates from our quiet time, a sense of unity and community.