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Struggling to keep up the reading momentum

I see my students reading, and they say they’re reading, but something isn’t quite right here.

They’re not finishing books as quickly as they did last semester.

My hunch is that they can’t possibly be reading for 30 minutes every night, the basic homework assignment.

But then on today’s Third Quarter Reading Survey, most students reported that they read 4-6 times a week.

How is it possible that they’re progressing so slowly?

Here are some of my ideas:

1. They’re not reporting the truth. I’m not saying they’re liars. Rather, my students may be over-reporting, or remembering having read when really they were doing something else.

2. Their definition of 30 minutes of reading isn’t the same as my definition. Or maybe they’re “fake reading.” Students may think they’re reading simply because they have a book in their hand, even when they answer a text or watch a TV commercial.

3. Their reading pace — especially on their own at home — is slow. If a student can read 20 pages an hour at school, perhaps it’s 10 at home.

I need to figure this out, find out more details.

I have a pretty good story of why some of my students aren’t reading, but I’m not as clear on the overall trend. Whenever I ask them about their reading habits — or about their identity as readers — the data comes back positive. “I’ve read more this year than ever before” is a common response, and so is “I’m a much faster reader and can read for much longer now.”

Should I be happy with this anecdotal data? It feels good, but it’s much more important to know that they’re reading a lot and that their reading skills have improved.

If you have ideas about next steps, please let me know, and thank you! 

Please share your brilliant insights!