Saturday, November 21, 2015

What can you do about fake reading?


A colleague recently complained to me about a group of fake readers in her class.  You know what I'm talking about! Those students that hold the book and try to look like they are reading.  They turn the pages and when they think you are watching they place their eyes on the book.  But we know they are often looking around or just staring at the pages.  Often they might read the words, but they aren't making any meaning.  They just can't seem to stay on task reading!

I see this problem every year, mostly in the beginning when many of my students unfortunately, have not had a lot of experience reading independently. And sometimes it sneaks back in and I have to do a few reminder lessons. Here’s a list of possible lessons.  I know it might sound like a lot, but it’s worth the time.
(If you have a couple fake readers, your other students are probably fake reading at some point also)

  • Do a mini-unit to build stamina during independent reading.  I spend the first couple of weeks of school doing this, but you can do it any time. (I have also needed to do a repeat with a small group of readers mid-year in second grade, and last year I pulled a couple of fake readers mid-year to “practice” our stamina.
  • Define stamina.  Tell students directly that the class will be building reading stamina.  I start with 3-5 minutes the first day of school. As soon as I see one student become unfocused I call time.  I tell them how many minutes we have done and set a goal for the next day. Some teachers even graph the stamina. (Always connect why these habits are important to them - i.e. they become better readers, this is what good readers do.) 
  • Model independent reading time. The good and the bad!  Make an anchor chart with the class, and review it every day until it becomes habit. Go back to it when these habits breakdown later in the year.

  • Model fake vs. real reading. (Here's some ideas from Pinterest)  I find naming the problem and telling them why it isn’t good for them helpful.  Students are often relieved to find out that they aren't the only ones that have a difficult time staying focused during independent reading.

  • Teach students Fix-Up Strategies. In my third grade class we create a chart that displays problems we have during reading. Once a couple of students share their difficulties other students begin sharing too. Then we can begin talking about what to do to fix those problems. I refer to this chart all year long and even add to it as we become more advanced readers. Once students can name their problem it's easier to focus on solving it!

  • Teach them how to select good fit books.  I have found lack of stamina and choosing the wrong book to be the key reasons students fake read. Sometimes choosing an easier book (or one we think is easier) can help students develop better stamina and feel successful. I also think it’s important to confer with readers to check accuracy and comprehension on their independent book, especially if they fake read.

  • Third reason students fake read… comprehension strategies or lack of… lessons on what good readers do (think) while they read are essential for all, but especially these fake readers.  Fake readers often have never experienced what it feels like to read and enjoy a book. This is constantly a topic of my small group instruction.  Pull those fake readers together for a group (level doesn’t matter) and give them a strategy to practice.

Independent Reading needs to be taught and modeled. Simply putting a book in their hands is not enough. We need to send the message that Independent Reading time is important. If you use this time to lesson plan, organize your desk, check in with colleagues or grade papers what message are you sending to your students? Instead, pull up a chair next to a reader. Take a few minutes to talk with them about their book. This will go a long way in teaching your Fake Readers the value of independent reading. They will long for you to talk with them!

Other than fake reading, what do these types of readers have in common? My experience has been they are my lowest readers. Not surprised, are you? But I also find they are my students that are performing "on grade level", but at the lower level of that group. I call them my "low average" students.

I hope one of these ideas helps! While Fake Readers are so annoying, I don’t believe most are doing it on purpose. I think there is some kind of “breakdown” in their reading that we have to address.

Here's some books that I have found helpful in teaching independent reading routines and comprehension strategies.