Boys’ Literacy Part 4 of 4
Findings and legacy
From April 2011 presentation
Every child (boys, too) wants to read!
The boys embraced the Challenge activity, especially in grade 7
No classroom management issues during extended reading time
Relevant and engaging texts at various reading levels were available in the classroom for selection by the students
As teachers, at first we found it difficult to permit the students to engage in silent reading for such an extended time frame with the stressors of the curriculum; but, we and our students did see the results when we gave them this time
Year 1 – complex testing involving 100 students, balanced between grade, class and gender (Flynt Cooter RIC test)
Year 2 – the Ministry observed many studies had undertaken extremely detailed testing and encouraged all participants to scale back/narrow focus for years 2-3. In year 2, one class participated using SRA and CASI as tools
Year 3 –two classes participated compared to the school-wide results on the CASI. Marking of these tests was moderated randomly by all school staff sitting in a room together. The two participating teachers did not mark our own classes’ tests.
The Year 3 Experience
Given the make-up of both participating Challenge classes their success rate could not have been predicted at a school wide level (by any stretch of the imagination ). 8B had 15 IEPs plus two ESL students and had more boys than girls. 7/8 D was a split with 6 IEPs.
Regardless, 7/8D and 8B were the two highest classes in the school
The following year, the grade 6 students in our French immersion program participated in the Challenge in their English class (25% of the class with an IEP). They demonstrated 100% level 3 on EQAO in reading and 80% in writing.
The Reading Challenge resulted in measurable improvements for boys, and girls. The two participating Grade 8 classes showed increased CASI scores and a narrower gender gap when compared to two other Grade 8 classes.
The benefits of the Reading Challenge seemed to carry over from Grade 7 to Grade 8. At the suggestion of Ministry staff, we looked at the sub-set of students who had participated in both Grade 7 and Grade 8. Those who had participated in Grade 7 did better on their Grade 8 CASI tests when compared to all Grade 8 students.
Better reading skills in an independent, quiet environment resulted in better behaviour for some boys. A small group of boys who participated in a literacy support program using high-interest/low-vocab novels improved several grade levels in their reading and reduced a steady stream of office visits to nil.
We became more convinced than ever that the Reading Challenge (or simply the concept of longer periods of silent reading each day) is an essential part of our reading program: reading for enjoyment not assessment, a stress-free environment for students.
We must provide a variety of texts at the correct level to engage students.
Students also need to be guided through challenging literature but exposure through read-alouds is important.
We integrated the teaching of CASI concepts and themes into responses to personal novels and non-fiction reading books.
During the course of the study, in addition to the Challenge, we continued to try to improve our teaching of reading. We made more use of group work, Book Clubs, reading responses, including guided responses, group responses and personal responses, read-alouds, and book talks.
Teacher modeling silent reading as well
Topics which involved heroes, crisis and social justice were very popular
Demonstrated remarkable improvements for girls as well!
Junior level at our school and one other, where a Challenge teacher was transferred the following year– continued with practices (as well as Intermediate classes.) The children were thrilled to use novels, magazines that were level appropriate, and high interest-low-vocab texts to build confidence.
Another transfer brought one of our teachers into the Primary level (2 years) – continue with DEAR time daily, provide leveled browsing bins, self-selected picture books, science/social studies books available and classroom library.
Continued use of prolonged silent reading in grades 5-8 at our school
Making use of the book room and leveled resources
Utilizing more technology for student responses to literature
Reading challenge was combined with Forest of Reading and Battle of the Books; students could choose books from these lists and participate in these programs while involved in the Challenge as their base activity
The grant allowed us to purchase a wide variety of engaging materials (Power, Power Zone, Bold Print magazine, New Series Canada, best sellers–Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, Lightening Thief).
Recent Twitter post (sorry, I lost the attribution)… “The top fifty books every middle school student should read:
1) A book of their choice.
2) A book of their choice.
3) A book of their choice.