Inquiry Post 1: Reinvigorate Silent Reading using 21 Century Book Talks and Trailers!

My secondary school has had a Silent Reading (SR) program for the last ten years. Everyday students and staff are expected to drop everything and read from 11:00-11:17am. This reading culture was already built-in when I joined the library team 4 years ago; however, last year it made its way to the chopping block when our school’s timetable came under review. Some teachers felt that this time could be better spent in other ways like creating TAGs or “Teacher Advisory Groups”, having homerooms, working on study skills or homework, etc. The library team received feedback from staff members that students were not reading during SR, that students were coming late to class during the SR period, and that not all teachers were enforcing SR rules.

In an effort to advocate for SR and improve our library program, I joined the timetable committee and offered to collect data on students’ reading habits at home and at school. I surveyed the whole school by grade over a period of several months using an online survey tool and then presented the results by grade to the timetable committee, our admin team, and to the entire staff at a staff meeting.

To summarize, here were the end results regarding SR:
 The majority of MSS students (82%) think that reading is an important skill that should be practiced at school
 Less than half of MSS students (44%) read a few times per week or more at home
 The majority of MSS students (74%) would like to keep SR and they prefer to keep it after break (82%)
 The majority of MSS students (75%) read at least few times a week or more during SR

Our Library team circulated a newsletter to staff outlining our commitment to support & improve SR at MSS by:
 Collecting student input for ordering new books
 Encouraging staff to book library time to bring class or small groups down to get books
 Promoting books and reading with displays and programming in library (Library Club, Grade 8 Orientation, Book Talks, monthly displays, etc.)
 Encouraging staff to speak to the library team or Literacy Helping teacher for help with individual cases
 Encouraging staff to participate in SR and role model reading

This year, I would like to take our book talks and book advertising one step further to help promote reading at MSS. Ultimately, getting every student in our classes to read every day is a major challenge. I think that finding each student a good book to grab their attention is key to turning students into life-long readers. How can we reach more students? I started investigating 21st Century book talks and found a cool info-graphic on Pinterest-my main go-to website for library display ideas.

The info-graphic can be found here.

In a nutshell the graphic suggests that we “inspire student reading using technology tools to create and share and redefine the way we talk about books.”
This semester I currently have six library TAs (teaching assistants)! I plan to enlist their help to create 21st century book talks and trailers using our library iPad minis following “The Process” outlined on the info-graphic. TAs will be able to pick whatever book they want to promote or advertise each month using the different Web 2.0 apps listed on the info-graphic, such as Animoto, iMovie, etc. The trailers and book talks can be uploaded onto our library webpage, school twitter account @MSSpanthers, and facebook page Merritt Secondary School. We can also generate QR codes for the trailers/book talks and place them next to the book on the shelf using our shelf labels. I am excited to present this project idea to our team of library TAs next week. Hopefully I will be able to share some examples on this blog soon! Stay tuned…

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5 thoughts on “Inquiry Post 1: Reinvigorate Silent Reading using 21 Century Book Talks and Trailers!

  1. I appreciated reading your inquiry blog post. Thank you for your description of your secondary school and your role as a teacher-librarian. You are a great example of advocating for your library; I am sure the students and staff were grateful since the silent reading program is part of the culture of reading in schools. All the best on your educational explorations.

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  2. Fantastic post! What a great way to backup your goals and reading expectations with some solid data! I was very pleased to see how much students valued reading and time in their day to read silently. I hope that any teachers at your school who saw the results agreed that it was important to keep and to support. Also, excellent infographic! Lots of helpful advice and suggestions there. Finally, good for you for utilizing your TAs so well in promoting reading. Great post, good multi-media, great tagging and good writing!

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  3. It’s awesome that you were able to advocate successfully to keep silent reading time at your school. I know it is difficult for secondary teachers to take time away from teaching, especially if they don’t see the value of SR. I think using technology to update traditional book talks is great. I was thinking that it would also be good to get some students to create book talks/trailers of their favourite book, an extension of students writing book reviews which I have seen in some libraries. I will echo Aaron’s comment, fantastic post!

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  4. Lia, you fought hard to keep silent reading in your school! Good job. I love that you tied some research and survey work into it. It is soooooo important to keep silent reading in classrooms and so easy to let the rules slide and let students do other things!
    On Thursday afternoons at my school, I do School Based Team coverage for teachers. Each class that I have covered begins the afternoon with silent reading. At first, the afternoon is a bit noisy, as I am getting instructions from the teacher while he/she is walking out the door to get to the SBT meeting. But then, I remind the students of the expectations and quietly begin circulating the room and writing out ROARs (good citations) for students who are following the instructions and reading independently. Within 10 minutes, almost every student is reading quietly and has received a ROAR. After 20 minutes, I announce a change of activity and there is usually a collective groan and shouts of, “Can’t we keep reading, just 5 more minutes?”
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE silent reading. Research has shown that reading from books (not screens) actually reduces heart rates, stress and anxiety. Of course there is time for screen reading….but each day needs to have 20 minutes of good old fashioned paper variety that requires no batteries, charging cords, software updates, and downloads…..just eyes and a finger to turn the page!

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  5. Thank you for posting a thought-provoking piece. I really liked how your school approached the research around silent reading time. Many teachers in my school also admit that they are eliminating silent reading time in their classrooms because students aren’t reading and there are so many other lessons they need to teach. I find this quite troubling as well. I really like the info-graphic, it reminds me that there are many ways to promote reading and responding using technology. It will catch the attention of our students I think as our intermediate students are constantly on their hand held devices. Also, I envy that you have 6 TAs! That is great, I am glad they will be able to help you deliver a meaningful program 🙂 Hieu

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