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…