Kelly, a reader of this blog, writes:

Thank you for the thorough and interesting materials on your website.  I am experimenting with a bunch of them this year, especially the SSR and Quickwrite components of a daily schedule.
A quick question – would you allow students to listen to headphones while they are reading?  I know my students will ask this.  I am leaning no, and will start out without, but I did want to ask you what your opinion is. 
Also I noticed on the documentation that you recommend that there be no writing during the reading.  I’m just trying to have a good picture in my head… so students read, but do you encourage them to take notes and/or use a dictionary?  
I hope to hear back from you, and I’m very grateful for all the good stuff on your website and the philosophy that you share.
Take care,

Hi Kelly,

Good questions. You’re really thinking this through. Here’s what I suggest.


I would lean against allowing students to listen to music on their own devices, mainly because they probably have very little music that does not contain lyrics. Lyrics, especially lyrics in another language than the one you are reading, are very distracting. So for novice learners, no listening on their own devices. Maybe with seniors that have been with you for a long while music with no lyrics on their own devices could work. I’ve never even allowed that though. If you have music without lyrics that is calm and not distracting, you could play it on your device for all to listen as they read.


Writing is also distracting. We are asking students to read for pleasure, to read for meaning, to read because the content is interesting to them. During FVR they are reading materials that are INTERESTING and COMPREHENSIBLE to them (I’m not yelling at you here, just clearly and distinctly emphasizing this the way you will need to with your students). They will not get it at first because our educational system has trained them to read differently. Most school reading is neither interesting nor comprehensible to students. It is too often boring and hard to understand. But your class will be different. In your class kids will actually read. With this system I’ve had kids say things like, “You know what, Señor? I hate reading in English, but for some reason, I really like to read in Spanish,” and “This [book in Spanish] is the first book [in any language] I’ve read all the way through since I was in 4th grade.”


This poster from my website explains in kidspeak how to choose a book: it says interesting and comprehensible nine different ways. I kept asking students “What does ‘interesting’ and ‘comprehensible’ mean?” until I got some clear, simple explanations that made sense to students–not my teacher jargon that tends to lose them.


Here is a poster spelling out how they are to behave during FVR. Here are the two biggies: No, you can’t go to the bathroom. No, you can’t go get another book right now–that’s too distracting to everyone else that is actually reading. Choose different one tomorrow.


So, to be clear, they are NOT taking notes and they are not checking in a dictionary while they are reading. They’re just reading. On Fridays, if you wish, you can have them write a reading reflection about what they have read during FVR during the week.


Some students will always resist reading, even FVR-style reading where they get to choose what they read! Independent Reading Rubric. Do not give this independent reading self-evaluation to them every time they read. If students are reading every day in class, once or twice a week should do it.


These forms and many other helpful materials to support and assess reading are in my book Hi-Impact Reading Strategies.

Does this make sense? What gaps have I not addressed?

Please keep me updated and let me know how it’s going.