By checking student reading logs I can tell that some students are not reading at home, while others are. I of course understand some of the challenges my students face when it comes to reading homework. My overarching goal is to instill a love for reading. To achieve that goal, I need to organize the reading environment to extend beyond the boundaries of the classroom.
I decided to have students share how they "fit" reading into their lives outside of school using a discussion format.
All the students were sitting at their desks for this discussion. This is somewhat unusual because normally we have discussions on the rug. I decided to have them share at their desks because I was curious if students would be able to use a large group voice and talk loud enough for everyone to hear them.
I started by asking students to think about the question of how they fit reading into their lives outside of school. After a minute of think time, I asked students to raise their hands when they were ready to share.
I called on a student who raised their hand. The first student said that they read at home after their little siblings had gone to bed because that is when it is quieter in their house. I charted this on an anchor paper. The next student said she reads in her room in bed. Then when she wants to write post-its to capture her thinking, she gets up and writes at her desk. I charted that and said you know most adults read in bed, too. And continued by saying that usually when you go to bed it takes ahile to feel sleepy so reading in bed is a habit that many adults have developed. The next student to share was very excited and added on that they read in bed, too. He was eager to share that not only does he read in bed but he has a lap table that he uses. He described it like the stand that he uses in instrumental music that holds his song book. This got another student thinking, and he shared that his mom is working on getting him a small table that swings out from the wall that he is going to use to write on. A couple of students said that they read in bed too, and that they use their night stand to hold their materials and to write on. One student was excited to share that he sleeps in a loft and his bed is close to the ceiling and that he reads in bed and then uses the wall to store and write his post-its. A girl then shared that her mom works until 11:00 p.m. Since she is not home, she lists all the chores the kids have to do as well as their homework on a white board. Everyone has to complete their chores and homework. After that the oldest child who is 18, then calls the mom at work. The mother then tells her where she has hidden the remote. In their household the rule is "No T.V. until chores and homework is completed. Hearing this, I remembered that all students received a whiteboard and whiteboard markers at the beginning of school in our supplies drive. I reminded the students of this and encouraged them to set up their own whiteboard to help them complete their homework. Another student shared that she always does her math homework while her mom is cooking dinner, then she reads in bed afterwards. A girl shared that she stays with her grandmother afterschool until her mom gets home. Her grandmother always see that she does her homework. She said this really works well because when she is home their are older step-siblings and they usually have their music on very loud in their rooms. She continued to say that it would be very hard to read in her own house. She also said that when she is at her dad's house she is not supposed to bring books because he doesn't want to be responsible for them. At this point more, and more students chimed in with the obstacles they face with finding a quiet place to do homework.
Many of my students live in extended family households and it is hard for them to have a space of their own. One student shared that he doesn't like to read because he has to be in his bedroom doing his homework while his mom is watching TV. He would rather be with her doing that. He went on to say that he likes when he goes to his grandma's house because she reads with him and helps him with his homework. We also talked about reading on the metro. Several students talked about seeing people reading on the busses. Another student got very excited when he remembered a trip to Tacoma he took on The Sounder. He described how he read and how great it was because it was so quiet and he saw other people reading, too.
I next led the discussion in the direction of who has grandparents who support their learning. About half of the students do. Open House is coming up so I will make sure I touch on the importance of having a place for homework and reading.
As students raised their hand to talk, I stood across the room and reminded them to talk loud enough for me and the student who I was standing behind to hear them. This was very successful in getting students to share with a loud enough voice. They were willing to be heard because what they had a chance to say was important to them.