In last week’s edition of Nurrunga, Mr Leddie wrote about the findings of the Deakin University, QUT, and the University of Canberra reading survey titled ‘Teen Reading in the Digital Era’ conducted at Waverley College last year. All evidence pointed to the fact that our students are not engaging in reading as much as we would like. However, the students indicated that they would like to be reading more in 10 years’ time.
The question Mr Roberts and I have asked is ‘Why wait?’
Since Week 1, we have welcomed all Year 7 and Year 8 students and their English teachers to the library, providing them with the opportunity to browse the shelves, select a book and read. We have also read short stories and extracts from novels and autobiographies aloud to the students.
According to reading expert and academic Meghan Cox Gourdon, reading aloud has many benefits:
“Students who engage in ‘Reading aloud’ are used to listening, so it’s easy for them to do it. They’ve heard lots of language, so their comprehension will be comparatively strong. And they learn from experience that paying attention brings rewards. By contrast, technology distracts us and pulls us in different directions. Technology is training us to dart and react like hummingbirds, scrolling, liking, posting.”
I have personally enjoyed reading chapter 1 of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. If you haven’t already, read it quickly before it’s too late.
Over the course of these lessons, Mr Roberts and I have made some interesting observations, which may be of interest to parents, carers and teachers.
- Students are very happy to leave their laptops to the side of the room. (Maybe this is telling us something.)
- The boys are very keen to get the book of their choice into their hands.
- Boys respond well to short engaging texts targeting their interests and age level.
- We have seen boys take out a wide variety of books from a wide variety of genres.
- In general – and this does not apply to every student – Year 7 students have a preference for adventure and fantasy, while Year 8 race to the biography/autobiography and sport sections.
- Some students seem to naturally have the ability to sit and read, eliminating all distractions for 20 minutes or so.
- Other students struggle to settle down, but all students eventually find that quiet place and read (even if it’s just for 10 minutes or so). This is possibly the most encouraging fact of all; all our students want to improve their reading habits.
Reading for Pleasure
We have emphasised that the purpose of our reading lessons is to encourage the students to read for pleasure. We are not testing the students’ reading level or asking them to ‘study’ the book. We have discussed the many benefits of reading for pleasure and set reading goals. We have found careful selection of age-appropriate texts is leading to student buy in and heightened interest. We have thoroughly enjoyed watching the students on their personal reading journey. And we have learned that, hypothetically, students don’t have any problems with eating raw eggs.
It would be wonderful if our students could also ensure that they complete at least 10 minutes of reading at home on a daily basis. Cox Gurdon sees reading as, “an antidote to a world of fractured attention spans, one in which students are being increasingly deprived of what is an ancient and proven human connection”. If this is possible in just 10 minutes daily, students and teachers will soon begin to notice improvements.
What Reading 10 Minutes Each Day Can Mean
2023 Premier’s Reading Challenge has Started!
For more information please send your sons to myself or Mr Roberts.
Well done to the majority of Year 7 students who have remembered to complete and bring their NAPLAN writing booklets to their library lessons. I encourage all students to ensure that they return their work on Tuesday, 7 March at the latest, as NAPLAN is fast approaching.
Students in Year 7 and Year 9 will continue their NAPLAN preparations over the next few weeks, in time for their writing exam on 15 March.